4.13.17 Born Again
Since the last time I wrote, just a few weeks ago, spring has arrived. Even now, a plague of iridescent grackles is strutting about the yard, two robins are colliding mid-air in a mating dance and the forsythia at the end of the drive is about to burst forth in a cloud of screaming yellow flowers. At night the racket made by the frogs is barely audible above the whoosh of rushing water, as every creek, brook and stream overflows from the snow melt and recent rains. Like the fiddleheads in their papery skins, I, too, am beginning to unfold and turn my face toward the sun. From the searching introspection of my darkest winter days has come a bright vision of the future. I have renewed optimism and my energies are focused on a new idea: The Outside Institute. I'm excited to share with you this fledgling venture that seems to be taking on momentum as the weather warms and the days grow longer.
The mission of The Outside Institute is to help people connect to the healing and transformative powers of nature. I'll be offering guided hikes, plant walks and foraging, as well as picnics and private dinners that showcase local foods, both farmed and wild. I am also partnering with friends—including bird-watchers, photographers, bee-keepers and natural dyers—to create diverse outdoor experiences. The website should be up within the next week or so, with more information and details on how to sign up for a walk or book a custom itinerary. At the moment, any inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is so much benefit to body, mind and spirit from being outside in nature. In Japan, the practice of shinrin-yoku, “forest bathing,” has been a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing for decades. It calms the nervous system, reduces stress and inflammation and lowers blood pressure. I would like to help people slow down, breathe deeply, hone their powers of observation and reconnect to a more primal state. As you know, I have transformed my own life through the regular practice of getting outside. Along the way, I have fallen in love with plants, fungi, ferns, mosses, birds and animals (including their tracks and their scat!).
I am having such a great time exploring private and state lands to expand my repertoire of hikes, so I can offer a variety of lengths, levels of difficulty and distinct ecosystems. The Upper Delaware Valley has marshes, boreal bogs, forests, meadows, mountains and glorious waterways, including rivers, lakes and ponds. I hope you will consider venturing up/down/over to these parts to join me in real time. In the meantime, you can get updates here and here. Thank you, as always, for your support and for sending good vibes my way. Here's to fun with flora, fauna and fungi! xo