The first snow of the year always feels magical

Why does the first snowfall of the year always seem magical? ūüôā

The First Snowfall

The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

~ By James Russell Lowell

(An excerpt from his poem, ca 1855)

 

Forest Bathing – Mindful Meandering in Nature

Have you heard of ‘Forest Bathing’?

Forest bathing is a holistic practice focusing on our ecological health. It aligns with our fundamental need as sentient beings to interact with nature.

While studying the benefits of Biophilic design a few years ago, along with vertical gardens and terrariums, I discovered this delightful concept.

Forest bathing is an activity that can reduce anxiety, depression, and boost the immune system.

It doesn’t matter whether this is done during a ten minute break at work, or when a whole day is spent roaming through a provincial park. The simple act of observing nature offers positive mental and physical benefits to our wellbeing.

Being fortunate as I am, residing in a place surrounded by forests, my experience with this concept is not unlike that of a sponge – best served soaking up all of the goodness nature offers for free.

Originating in Japan during the 1980’s, and known there as ‘Shinrin-yoku’, the translation means either, “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. Already cornerstone of preventive health care in Japanese medicine, it’s becoming known to health practitioners here in North America, too. They are beginning to see the practical use of forest bathing as a prescription for healing, helping patients by connecting them back to nature.

Akin to the practices of horticultural, animal, and art therapies, forest bathing is a sensory-based activity. In partnership with mindfulness and a green-space, it’s a tool to help us connect with the natural world. By slowing down even just for a while,¬†we focus our attention on the beauty around us.

If only temporarily, forest bathing removes the daily distractions and stress caused by our manufactured schedules and hectic lives. Studies have shown that the aroma from certain trees in a forest has healing powers.

Forest therapy has a lasting effect on our wellbeing, lingering long after that walk in the woods.

Usually, a session entails a quiet, slow-paced walk. A group of people mindfully meander, immersed in the forest, engaging with nature, using all five of their senses.

This tempered walk is not the same as hiking. The goal is not about breaking a sweat, or hurriedly trudging on towards a specific destination.

Besides, who knows what one might come across whilst contemplating the trees and the forest? ūüôā

In conclusion, I’m currently immersed in learning how to be a forest guide. I’ll be offering a forest bathing session in Haliburton Ontario this spring.

For more information, or ff you would like to sign up for this forest therapy session, (held on Saturday, May 25th, 2019), please RSVP on Facebook – event listed -> HERE (Or) at our Eventbrite listing.

Thank you!

Forest bathing links:

Questions? Please feel free to get in touch through the contact form below. Thank you!

The Red Fox – A fabulous forest-lurker, neighbour, and totem animal.

Fox hunting for voles and mice.

Our backyard is a special place because of the abundance of wildlife in our neck of the woods. I am extremely fortunate to witness a diversity of animal/bird species who wander through on a regular basis.

One of my favourite visitors is the lovely Red Fox, (Vulpes vulpes).

These solitary hunters are intelligent, opportunistic omnivores, about the size of a small to mid-sized dog, and they rather remind me of a cat because of the way they play with their food, tossing the soon to be meal, (voles & other rodents) in the air with abandon, just before ending this celebration to seriously chow down on their catch.

Like many of us humans, the red fox prefers a diverse habitat! For them, that includes farm fields, forests, the edge of thickets, and even urban settings, where like the racoon they also thrive. From my experience in a rural setting, they hunt in and out of these habitats, which describes our backyard, and is likely why I see them so often.

The adult red fox has a year-round coat of red that is absolutely striking to see in the winter, as you can see it here in contrast with snow.

Yes,¬†there are¬†some people who find satisfaction by wearing these beauties on their own backs. I’m not one of them and prefer to see the animal alive¬†and well,¬†in its own¬†coat.¬†Luckily,¬†I don’t yet carry tomatoes & won’t pelt, (pardon the pun) fur wearing folk.¬†However, I¬†will¬†offer¬†an unequivical¬†icy glare and¬†judge you in a negative light.¬†But, I digress…

Fox with mange.

Foxes are shy animals. They’re mainly¬†nocturnal, but¬†occasionally one will see¬†these non-aggressive creatures¬†during the day.¬†If you see a fox during the day, it doesn’t mean¬†that they¬†are diseased with rabies or mange, though that can be the case. It more likely it means¬†food may be¬†more available for them¬†during¬†daylight hours in their respective environment.

If you’re interested in animal lore and totem animals like I am, there is a¬†phenomenal amount¬†of information available, making the fox¬†an interesting subject to read about in many folkloric and mythic¬†tales.

Consider the¬†term “to outfox“, which¬†means “to beat in a competition of wits”, similarly to “outguess”, “outsmart”, and “outwit”.¬† If you consider¬†Aesop’s Fables¬†from classical antiquity to Beatrix Potter‘s anthropomorpic stories, there are¬†numerous¬†stories involving¬†a fox in popular culture throughout history.

Fox focus

Within the spiritual realm,¬†they’re considered¬†figures of cunning or trickery, or as a familiar animal possessed of magic powers and transformation.

As for having the lovely fox as a totem animal, it suits me well.

According to¬†many¬†who’ve¬†interpreted the fox as a¬†totem animal messanger,¬†a fox will communicate its presence¬†in order to offer¬†the advice that¬†you should¬†think outside of the box. They also show us how to focus on our goals,¬†and to¬†use¬†our creativity in our approach¬†to¬†current¬†circumstances.

My feeling is that the fox encourages us to be aware of our own habits, (good or bad), adapt to our environment using all of our resources, and that we should refrain from certain distractions that may lead us off course when we want to realize a goal.

In any case, the Red Fox is a wonderful creature and participant in the planet’s food chain. They’re an animal that deserves our respect, and¬†it is a¬†real gift¬†to see them in nature.