Nature column: Get out and discover our world | Don’t miss it

For eons, poets have written about the beauty of nature. For years, I have encouraged you to get out and enjoy nature. Today? Now is the time to act. Choose a way to connect or connect with nature now.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how to be flexible. Your day may already be filled with plans: meetings, meals, or family activities. This does not prevent you from connecting in nature. Take your lunch and go sit outside to eat it. No picnic table? Sit on the front step or on a small retaining wall. Talk to your colleagues or your family. These are connection times that occur outside in nature.

On a recent hike with friends, we stopped at a visitor center and the gift shop had a shirt that said “Get out!” As if to go out. My friend said to me, “Listen, Carol, this is the title of your next column. I agreed. We don’t spend enough time outside. As a nation, we have become too accustomed to our air-conditioned homes. Our lives are enriched and our immune systems strengthened by spending time in nature. Feel the wind blow over your face, the sun pricking your arms or the gentle splash of a raindrop hitting your head. These are links that occur with nature.

Where will your connections take you? Will your bike ride pass a pond full of fish, or will a walk stop at every flower bed along your street? These moments of connection with nature reduce our stress levels and should bring us joy. My adult children spent some time last night chasing fireflies. I don’t blame them. Watching the flashing patterns of these unusual insects is one of my favorite ways to pass the time while waiting for the stars to come out on summer nights.

My favorite relationships are those like this recent hike – the ones where I connect with friends in the wild. It is high time for us to stop overthinking and over-planning. For the rest of the summer, enjoy the great outdoors with your family and friends. You don’t need to plan a trip to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone to appreciate the beauty, mystery, and wonders of nature. Watch the clouds as they rush through the sky. What shapes do you see? What animals walk, crawl, or fly when you sit on a blanket in your yard? Which flower scent do you prefer?

Summer and nature go hand in hand. Easy meals of salads, sandwiches and fresh fruit can turn any day into a picnic-worthy occasion. Hot temperatures require you to keep your sandals and a few bubbles near the front door. Hot summer afternoons are a great time to sit by the creek and rock your toes in the water.

Make the most of each day – get outside – that is, outside, and enjoy nature all around you!

Carol Emmert lives in Anderson. She is the founding director of Heart of the River Coalition.

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