How Are You Looking At Nature?

I have always found myself to be fond of nature and have a deep appreciation for it. I try to spend time wandering the woods or walking with Raven looking at plants on the property we live, along fence lines or empty lots. However, this past weekend had a complete new awakening for me because I slowed down and took a look around me. It all started on Saturday when I, after being inspired by Raven’s comments about being overwhelmed by stepping outside and being grounded with nature, took a barefoot walk through the Bois de la Houssière (some woods in Belgium I live near).

This post will take a three part look at 1) why barefoot time is so crucial, I am no expert in this Raven has much more she can add from her studies, but want to point out a few things; 2) why I slowed down and saw nature from a new; and 3) what I saw when I slowed down and its impact.

On Friday, Raven made mention to the overwhelming feeling she got stepping out outside from the energy she felt. Knowing exactly what she was talking about inspired me to take a nature weekend. I had spent a lot of time recently with my “day job” inside and had not been as active as I would like. The stressful work times were over and the weekend was before me. So I hopped in the car and drove the 20 minutes out to the large woods that we had visited before.

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The first thing I did when I arrived was strip off the shoes and socks, rolled up the pant legs, and set off on the trail. The ground felt cool, moist and alive beneath my feet. I stayed on the trail for only a short time before something caught my attention off to a side and like normal I stepped off the beaten path. This is when my day slowed down. I am not usually hiking barefoot through the woods and was reminded of this when I soon found the floor of the woods carpeted by expelled beech nuts. The woods are filled with beautiful towering old Beech trees and seasons of dropped fruit had left a nice layer. The nerves of my feet were immediately awake as I felt the hard sharp hulls digging into my feet.

I don’t aim to be any kind of expert but through my own reading and being educated by Raven’s studies (Nutritious Movement) we know this is vital to healthy feet. According to Katy Bowman, the manner to which we adjust our strides and the stimulation help to strengthen the small muscles in our feet and lower legs. Further, is the change in loads that come from varying the terrain we walk on. When we constantly walk on flat smooth even surfaces we miss out. But by changing the plane and surface, “You work the parts of your body that are stimulated by the tiny geometrical adjustments necessary to cope with them.”[1] I felt as though I changed loads constantly as I balanced along fallen trees, climbed root studded hills, and pinpoint stepped over thorny vines and nettle. Therefore I changed the loads and stimulated the nerves. And I’ll tell you I felt the stimulation.

These are great benefits to my barefoot walk; however, what I found equally amazing was how I saw the woods. I had to slow down due to not only the Beech nuts but also the Stinging Nettle, Poison Ivy and other thorns and bristles. Often times in the past I would stroll through the woods and see the sights around me, however, this time I picked my way through the woods at a slower pace which allowed all sorts of sights, smells and sounds to reach me. Of one of the most exciting things was my slow deliberate steps allowed me to come upon a young doe who was grazing through the woods. I moved slowly along with her and in doing so came across large brambles of wild blackberries. She was grazing through them and I joined her in for a few. We carried on like this for about 15 minutes, just watching each other, before I left her be.

 Not sure you can see my deer friend in the middle of the screen.

Not sure you can see my deer friend in the middle of the screen.

The other things I saw in plentiful as I slowed down was the vast fungal growth. There were so many different species and with mushrooms being a great interest of mine I took the time to photograph and take back hoping to identify some of them.

All in all Saturday was great but then came Sunday morning. I awoke to a cool overcast day. Still on a high from my time outside and the way I saw things fresh I took a walk into my backyard to check on the garden. Something led me to keep the slowed down approach and I made my way deliberately around the yard personally checking on each tree, plant and shrub. I sat down among them, clearing out debris and saw the micro life at work at the base of the plants. All sorts of new fungi were springing up, insects were busy at work breaking down the soil, and bees were busy amongst the flowers. I saw the flowers in vibrant colors and insects and spiders seemed so active. I felt as though I was on a strange trip but as I thought about it; I had taken my time to slow down, REALLY take a look around me, and appreciate nature. It had been a long time since I had really done that and I am so very thankful I did. My connection with nature feels renewed and the abundance that nature provides become so much more visible. As Raven and I continue our lifelong learning of plants, mushrooms, trees and so forth we will begin to find more and more of what nature is providing and hope you will join us.

 

[1] Katy Bowman, “Vitamin “Flat and Level” OVERDOSE,” https://nutritiousmovement.com/vitamin-flat-and-level-overdose/.