Nature Therapy

“The next time you feel sad, put away your devices and go and sit by a river. Let it heal you. Go and walk in the forest, the trees will listen. Let the elements hold you. This life is fleeting. Let us tread lightly, we do not own any of it.” ~~Author unknown

My friend, S.a. Tudhope allowed me to use her photo of a creek that flows into Lake Washington in Washington state, USA.

This would be a great place to sit and contemplate. Perhaps to write poetry. Or just to be. We don’t spend enough time just being with no pressure, nor rush, no expectations.

For me, any body of water will do, even though running water is better.

Snake Lake in autumn.

I love reflections in water. And leaves floating on water.

Any tree will do, whether it has leaves or not.

I love the grace and elegance of bare trees, stripped to the essence of their treeness. Come spring, I almost hate to see them leaf out.

What do you do when you’re cut of from woods and water, like I am now. Like so many of us are now. And how some of us are always. You find nature wherever you can.

I’m fortunate enough to have this view from my balcony. This is how I get my nature fix.

To those of us who live in its lap, Mt. Rainier (14,411 ft., 4,392m) is known at The Mountain, as if there were no other. We have many mountains in Washington state, but this is the biggest one. The Monarch. The symbol of our state. The one that’s most visible from urban areas for miles around. This view is from Tacoma, but people thirty miles (approx. 50km) to the north in Seattle can see it, as can people thirty miles to the south in our capital, Olympia can see it.

But sometimes, too often, The Mountain hides in the clouds.

Yes, there is a mountain back there. Not all the white stuff is clouds, some of it is snow.

Mountains, whether you are on their flanks or looking at them from a distance, are also great nature therapy.

For when The Mountain is completely hidden by clouds or just to have something green close by, I have plants on my tiny balcony.

Autumn fern. Its frond are not dying; they’re golden because that’s the nature of autumn ferns.

Sometimes you have to bring nature indoors.

Peperomia. House plants help keep indoor air clean. And help the housebound to enjoy nature.

When the Tether Snaps

This poem was inspired by Mary Oliver.

Writing tethers me to the world.
To myself.
 What happens when the tether
snaps?
When words won’t come.
When loved ones fail us.
When friends betray us.
The tug of the abyss
is too strong?
 Sylvia Plath put her head in an oven.
Hemingway put a gun to his head.
Langston Hughes swallowed lye.
Virginia Woolf walked into a river
with rocks in her pockets.
 What will I do if the tether
snaps?
Whatever I do if the tether
snaps
and I fall
to lie and rot
like a tree in the woods.
I hope green things lean over me
and caress me.
Grow on me and feed on me,
like any nurse log.

Stopping to Pet Moss

Musings on Today’s Walk

I live in a rainy place. Moss is everywhere, but I never get over its wonder and beauty.

When I go for walks, I try to pay attention to things that get overlooked. 

Moss. Dead leaves. Blooming flowers. Wilting flowers. Raindrops. All sorts of small and seemingly unimportant things. 

I love this leaf even though it’s old, brown, and dry.

And, yes, I stop to smell roses and to pet moss. My hands like the feel of moss. It’s like botanical velvet. A carpet for fairies. I touch bark, feel the roughness. Like a child, I pick up leaves and pretty rocks and take them home. Is that because I never grew up?

I chose not to crop out this wilting rose. It has its own beauty. In Japanese flower arrangements, one wilted blossom is often included to remind us that life is finite.

As people get older, they too get overlooked and dismissed as unimportant, with nothing to offer.

I’m hardly the only person who has discovered the beauty of small, overlooked things, but the faster the world goes, the faster time flies, we forget to stop and look. Stop and to touch. To listen. And think.

Writers notice even the smallest details and describe them. Walt Whitman watched “A noiseless patient spider” and compared the filaments it casts to his soul, flinging gossamer filaments, hoping they’ll catch on something. Another soul. Another heart. Some of us cast gossamer filaments that never catch anywhere or catch on the wrong thing. Because of Whitman’s spider and Charlotte, I’ve never looked at spiders the same way.

Robert Frost noticed “A Considerable Speck” scuttling across the page where he’d been writing. How easy it would be to drown it with a drop of ink. The speck is so tiny it seems to have no room for feet, let alone a brain, yet it moves with purpose and seems aware of the threat represented by Frost’s pen. Of course, the poet doesn’t drown the speck but lets it go on its way. I no longer drown or squash specks. Most of the time. Fruit flies don’t count. Spiders do.

I fell in love with Japanese culture when I was in high school. I can’t remember if it was in my creative writing class when I discovered haiku. I was enchanted by the three-line, seventeen syllable poems. Or maybe I fell in love with Japanese culture at the Seattle Asian Art Museum while gazing at netsuke, tiny exquisitely sculpted fobs that fastened inro boxes to an obi. I love how the artists often depicted tiny creatures, frogs or beetles, in remarkable detail.

I just like the way this plant looks with its fuzzy white edges. I think it might be an artemisia. It grows in a planter next to the entrance of an apartment complex. People just drive or walk past it and its companions.
This picture appeals to me because of the contrast of colors and textures and the way the ivy looks like it’s embracing the rock.
Just because. Some people consider ivy to be a pest, but this one is helping hold a grassy slope in place.
A Noiseless Patient Spider
Walt Whitman - 1819-1892

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

(This poem is in the public domain)
The creation of a tiny architect.