Tuesday, January 28, 2020

One Mile Hike: Check!

 I made a New Years resolution at the beginning of the year to make a one-mile hike on my new knee in January. 
I’m happy to say, I made it with time to spare!  

  The Marshland Boardwalk Trail is one of our favorites short hikes at Santee Coastal Wildlife Preserve.  

  The trail begins through a canopy of gnarled old moss-covered oaks that have been around since the preserve’s  Eldorado Plantation days.

Not far along, it becomes one with a dike, an old road for transport between rice fields now overtaken by an extensive cypress swamp.

  Soon the path veers off to the right onto nearly a half mile of boardwalk, passing through a natural sculpture gallery of tall, straight cypress lines and cypress knee sculptures on both sides, as far as the eye can see.  

  The boardwalk is half mile long with a couple bends that block sight lines.  We always wonder, how do you know if you are the 4th person to be on the boardwalk or the 24th, which could, apparently, mean disaster!  The good news is, we’ve never met more than two other hikers so I guess we’re safe.  

The milky blue of this water was pretty. I wonder what makes it milky.  

Here, it’s milky green...

But mostly the water is clear and blue as the sky.  

After passing a few more cypress sculptures...


...the boardwalk ends at the panorama of an abandoned rice field where osprey wheel overhead, seeking fish for lunch.  It’s a lovely place to linger on an old bench in January, no biting insects to torment you, hungry for your own lunch waiting to be served under the big oaks, next to the car to block the cold wind.  

(There are no pictures of lunch because we were so hungry we forgot!)

Monday, January 20, 2020

‘Forest Bathing’

  While our President is busy ruining our national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges etc., scientists are finding new evidence every day of the benefits of spending time in nature.  


 In Japan, “forest bathing”, (a fancy name for walking 
in the woods) is popular, with walkers enjoying being enveloped in the natural air emitted by the forest.  When breathed in, the emissions raise levels of Natural Killer cells (NK cells) in the human body.  NKs are Good Guys that boost the immune system, fighting tumors and infections.  
Just by breathing them in!  

  It may sound woo-woo, but there is plenty of evidence for the benefits of taking in some fresh country air.  In a paper citing 26 research scientists’ work —you can read it here: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/7/eaax0903  
—the findings and recommendations for nature’s impact on mental health are also profound.  

  In one interesting study, essential oils from cedar trees (one of my favorite scents!) were released in a room where people were sleeping.  Their NK cells were measured and found to reach a significant spike as the oils spread through the room.  

  A Stanford University study claims 2/3 of humanity will live in a city by the year 2050, and another study found that already 86% of the U.S. population is not within 10 minutes of a park or green space.  No whiffs of tumor-reducing, immune-building, mental health-making NKs just around the corner for them!  

 I’m intrigued with these studies because I have always felt pleasant energy around big trees, in deep forests and other natural spaces. I crave it, I need it!  
  I’m reading a new book, The Nature Fix, Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, by Florence Williams, recommended as “highly informative and surprisingly entertaining”.  Here’s the description from Amazon in case you are interested in reading it.  

  “From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.”

  So if you are feeling a cold coming on, if you want to get a free dose of cancer-fighting NKs, or if you are feeling depressed by what is happening in the world ...

   I say head outside for a walk in nature and see if you don’t feel better!  

Monday, January 6, 2020

Close to Home

  It’s been exactly a month today since knee surgery and since I still have quite a bit of pain, especially when trying to sleep and when riding in the car, we are sticking pretty close to home.  A lot of this ...

knitting and enjoying books and movies by the fire in my rocking chair.  I have completed nine more hats for the homeless, so at least I have accomplished something!  

  I have physical therapy three times a week and we walk every day. I’m trying to increase my distance a half a block each day because I have a goal — to be ready for a 40 minute hike to a wood stork rookery to see the babies by April.  

  We’ve had lovely weather so it’s been a pleasure to do the walking outside.

  The camellias are in bloom and we have many in our yard.  The white ones bloom first, right at Christmas, and leave a covering of snowy petals on the ground all around as the blossoms wilt.  

Next to bloom are these, and we have six big bushes of this color.  They have no scent but they look just like giant waxy roses.

Last will be the delicate light pink ones but they weren’t blooming yet yesterday.  

This beauty, nearly as big as my hand, made its way into the house where they last a long time. 

What a treat to have sunshine and flowers blooming in January!  

Nothing like the weather back in Minnesota. 

My daughter sent this picture of Mason tubing at the ski hill in their town.  

I guarantee he’s half that size underneath all those clothes!

Bob enjoys the fireside in the evenings, too.  She was feeling poorly here after her monthly dose of flea and heart worm medication, but she bounced right back and was chasing squirrels the next day.

Rosie keeps her eye out for the marauding cats that like to visit the yard.  She does not like them in her yard and gets very vocal trying to warn them away from her perch in the window.  

We need to take the Christmas tree down soon. We haven’t anything important to do, it hasn’t shed a single needle yet, so why hurry?