|Nootka rose on a rainy day at Deception Pass State Park. Lainey Piland photo|
"Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes - every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man." ~ Orison Swett MardenThese days, I find myself grasping at every connection with nature that comes my way. I'm feeling the effects of setting aside the hikes and outdoor experiences more adventurous than a lap around the block during this last trimester of my pregnancy. I miss the rare mountain air, the hush of the forest, the feeling of raindrops splattering onto my hood from branches overhead.
In preparation for the big delivery day, I've been reading up on mindfulness practices to hopefully make things more manageable when the time comes, just ten weeks from now. The more I read, the more I realize how the time I've spent exploring in the outdoors has already helped me begin to develop some of the attitudes and practices of mindfulness.
There are times I've gotten lost in examining wildflowers, watching a hummingbird at the feeder in my backyard, listening to the sound of a breeze whispering through hemlock trees or watching gentle waves lap against the shore of an alpine lake. In devoting one's entire focused attention to a particular sight or sound, you can ground yourself in the present moment, observing it mindfully and intentionally. It's amazing how refreshed you feel after such a reverie, where time seems to have stretched a little further than it normally does and you look around with eyes newly opened to the beautiful intricacies in the world around us that normally escape our attention.
It is these beautiful intricacies that have so far helped me through the last few months bereft of outdoor adventures. Every birdsong, every dramatic view of a stormy sky, every whiff of fresh air wafting under my nose reminds me of the adventures I've enjoyed in past years, and the joys I can look forward to returning to in just a few short months. This brings to mind some well-loved words from Thoureau:
"But I was at the same time conscious of a slight insanity in my mood, and seemed to foresee my recovery. In the midst of a gentle rain while these thoughts prevailed, I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sight and sound around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once like an atmosphere sustaining me... Every little pine needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me." - from Walden