We have a tradition of going on an outdoor adventure every Mother’s Day weekend. This year we ended up at Rowena Crest in the Columbia River Gorge. There, on the drier side of Mt Hood, we took a short hike along the rocky plateau to see the bright yellow balsamroots and purple lupines that are currently in full bloom.
I've always loved these Mother’s Day trips because they give us a chance to reflect on nature in transformation. And Spring...it really is SUCH a time of change. As the flowers appear, so too do insects and other small creatures. On this trip, it seemed like more than half of our time was spent watching bees and pausing for beetles making their way across our path.
Every spring is a little different. Last Mother's Day, we were able to hike on Mt Hood to Mirror Lake, while this year, because of our cold and wet winter, that trail is still partially covered with snow. Mother's Day is thus also a time for us to reflect on the regularities - and differences - of the seasons from year to year.
Over the years, these adventures have become a special time for us to bond while also taking a break from the hectic pace of spring work and school schedules. Our lives can get stressful, and getting outdoors is proven to help.
How does nature help with stress?
Nature offers perspective. When you are out among the flowers or the forests or the rocks, you are among something larger than yourself. The bees care nothing of you, and why should they? They are busy doing their own important work. This is a remarkable thing when you think about it - that mere fact that there’s a lot going on outside of ourselves.
Nature is humbling when, for example, we stop think about how the bees' work connects to us. Their work gathering nectar plays a role in a bigger chain of events that ultimately has an effect on the air we breathe and the food we eat. This can also be comforting - to think about ourselves as connected to a world outside of us.
Nature also commands our full sensory attention - the sights, the smells of the earth and plants, the sun or the wind against our skin, or the strain of our bodies as we walk among the rocks. This is important because we live in a world of technology that tends that has been connected dulled sensations, and to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Getting outdoors can be restorative because it re-fires our senses (not just sight, but also sound and touch). This re-firing can have a re-energizing effect.
Trips into nature (whether a long hike or a short meander through meadows) can do all this and more.
You don’t have to drive an hour to Rowena Crest to experience the healing and humbling impact of the outdoors.
City parks (like the ones we feature in our monthly subscriptions) make it easy to get outside and explore nature for a few hours. A simple walk around the block can also offer lots of opportunities to explore. Even some time around the yard can offer surprising discoveries that kids especially, can use as entry points into a amazing world outside their own.
Bryna R. Campbell