Instant communication lifestyles are second nature to most of us today, yet maintaining our “first nature” is essential for mental and physical health.
Exposure to nature can decrease recovery times from operations, reduce the length of depressive episodes, and help children with cognitive and behavioral disorders. Children become healthy by exploring nature on their own terms and in unstructured play. Furthermore, by teaching each new generation the knowledge and value of nature we pass on both a strong conservation ethic and an interest in wise stewardship.
Here are 10 New Year resolutions to come alive in nature:
1. Get out early in the morning
Birds and wild animals are more active early in the day.
2. Learn nature’s names
When you know the name of birds, plants and animals, recognition is easier. Field guides or websites can help you with identification.
3. Join a guided walk
Naturalists love to show people the intricacies of local habitats. Check out BC Nature’s website www.bcnature.ca for local clubs.
4. Explore the beach
Strolling by the ocean is one of the most mentally-restorative activities possible. Every beach is different. Look for shells, seaweed, and treasures washed in with the tide.
5. Cycle the dykes
Marvel at huge flocks of shorebirds and waterfowl over Boundary Bay. Check the tide tables before heading out; an hour before high tide the birds will be closer to shore.
6. Feed the ducks at Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary
A lovely destination for young and old with an amazing diversity of birds. Huge flocks of snow geese are a not-to-be-missed winter sight.
7. Putter around a pond
Wherever there is fresh water, there is life. Listen for frogs, watch dragonflies darting around and look for fish. Herons, grebes, ducks and shorebirds are all attracted to fresh water. Serpentine Wildlife Area is a lovely wetland area with walking trails.
8. Take a boat tour or ride a ferry
The B.C. coast can be spectacular for marine life. Watch for harbour seals, sea lions and porpoises. Grey whales, humpbacks and orcas visit local waters seasonally.
9. Keep a journal
Taking observation a step further helps keep your brain active. Many birdwatchers and naturalists keep journals or lists of species they have seen. Some nature photographers and artists make visual records through the seasons. Super keeners set goals: to discover all the wildlife species in their garden or their local park.
10. Share your knowledge with someone else. Great friendships are made in nature.
Anne Murray is an independent writer, naturalist and author of two books on the natural history of Boundary Bay: A Nature Guide to Boundary Bay and Tracing Our Past ~ A Heritage Guide to Boundary Bay. She blogs at www.natureguidesbc.wordpress.com