nature, the new prescription

The Grand Mesa is cloaked by low-lying clouds and it looks like it’s raining on the other side of the valley. It’s cool out this morning. I squeeze in a trek before the rain commences out this direction. No cars are parked at the trailhead and the path looks deserted. When the weather looks this foreboding, it’s easy to blow off a hike or a ride and wait for sunny weather. I’ve noticed that since I’ve committed to these daily treks, it’s a rare day when the weather is actually extreme enough to forego a trek. I am invested. Besides usually, when it seems marginal like today, it turns out to be one of the better hikes: the sun isn’t intense, the colors are more vivid, the air is fresh – it’s peaceful.

I take the longer loop to check out the status of a blooming barrel cactus I’ve been tracking and notice sego lilies everywhere: mostly white, but some a muted pink, while others are full-blown hot-pink. With the cloud cover, the colors are vibrant, and red-orange-umber hues of the sandstone cliffs contrast with the stunning green vegetation that is dotted occasionally with the deep purple of larkspur and the orange of globe mallow. The air smells fresh and slightly sweet. My skin is cool. Magpies and song birds chatter. Soon I notice all my senses engage, and I recognize that I am fully in the moment. My tense shoulders melt and my spirit is at peace.

Nature as a retreat or refuge makes sense. It’s free, it’s sustainable, it’s right out the back door, and it works – it reduces tension, lessens anxiety, and lowers blood pressure. Now doctors are even prescribing nature therapy (Outside, May 2019, Ask Your Doctor if Nature is Right for You, by Aaron Reuben). I’ve noticed, too, in addition to what I personally gain from nature therapy, that I have grown to care about these open spaces, and the future of them – that blooming barrel cactus, the hot-pink sego lily – these things have become important to me. I feel invested in them and feel a need to protect and preserve them, making nature therapy a win for me and a win for the spaces I care about.

from the trail, lisa

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reader comments

Nature as a retreat or refuge makes sense! I love your transition. As always, a delight to read your blog. :) K

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