June 08 2017
Happiness/Health & Wellbeing/Living in Brooklyn/Sanity

Pondering Nature is Exactly What Your Brain Needs

Here is the lesson I learn over and over again:  We can’t hide from tragedy or stressful realities, but we can’t wallow in them either. We have to have a release.  A few moments each day to reflect on that which is awe-inspiring, and which touches a deep down part of our humanity — this is essential to life.

Getting outside into nature is the perfect way to do this.  In fact, this is the premise for The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams, which I am about to start reading.

But for when you can’t get outside, I have suggestions for three books that celebrate the audacious powers of nature, and that are just overflowing with awesome.

They will inspire you.  They will get your spirit out of “below E” territory. And even more than getting you to just ponder the beauty and mystery that insinuates itself into every little green vein, they may just fill you with the motivation you need to get your body to one of those places, where worries and anxieties can’t help but look a little smaller in comparison to the trees and sky.

Urban Bestiary

A recommendation from Traci at Slow Nature Fast City, I was excited to give Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild a try, since I fell in such love with Traci’s other book recommendation, New Slow City.  The book is worth it for the insight on urban birds alone.

It answered so many questions I had about sparrows and starlings, creatures that I share space and air with each time I walk out my door.  Aside from the famous story about their presence being a result of someone’s (ill-conceived, as it turns out) quest  to bring all the birds in Shakespeare’s plays into the New World, I knew so little about these everyday avian neighbors.  And there is so much to know.  You might be surprised to learn just how fascinating these plentiful creatures are.

Above all, this book is about getting closer to nature, even when you do not live in proximity to much that is wild. I realize that this is one of the bold, underlined themes of my life.

Upstream

Mary Oliver is a poet, and so, every word in Upstream: Selected Essays is sheer poetry. Her musings about growing up and falling in love with Wordsworth, Emerson and Whitman brought me back to every English classroom of my youth that I wished would never end and deliver me to the horror of chemistry or biology.

It brought me back to my most favorite ever class in college, “English Romantic Poetry” and kindled every difficult to express feeling that goes with falling in love with words, with literature, with ideas. Especially in the formative years of your life.

The story of an injured black-backed gull that she and her partner took in is beautiful and tender.  Sweet and quiet. Likewise, her account of a small spider that took up residence in a stairwell corner moved me deeply.  The author weaves her observations of the mundane facts of the spider’s existence, together with the grander meaning so often inherent in the seemingly mundane. I am so happy I stumbled upon this book. Every word is simple, understated beauty.

Turn off your mind, relax and float… upstream…

Audubon, On the Wings of the World

AudubonThis stunningly beautiful graphic novel, Audubon, On the Wings of the World by Fabien Grolleau and Jeremie Royer, was a gift from my son.  I picked it up and started reading it the other day. To my surprise, I read the entire book in one sitting.

The format is cool and very interesting and I realized, as I read it, that I really did not know much about John James Audubon.  This is obviously a somewhat fanciful telling of his story, but it was so marvelously done that it accomplished what any great book rooted in non-fiction ought to – it left me wanting to learn more.

A great American adventure story, John Audubon risked life and limb for his passion, which was to document every bird in our still unknown, vast, wild land.

The scientific community generally rejected his life’s work at the time, finding his drawings too romantic, not clinical enough.  Of course they were romantic!  Nature is romance.

All three of these books share a theme.

Perhaps this is the only theme to speak of when it comes to nature.  Whether you live in a cabin on Walden Pond, or a high rise in Manhattan, nature can be found all around us.  Both enormous and microscopic, it’s hard to tell which end of the scale is more miraculous.  We must remember to pay attention to this beautiful, deep and important part of who we are.

Especially the deeper we fall down the digital well.

Especially on those difficult days, too often now, when the base, the callous and the depraved seem to crash over us like waves.

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  • Thank you for sharing your love of nature with us! Sharing nature with my family has been something I have consciously decided to do on a regular basis. We are now enamored about learning the names of the birds and trees in our neighborhood.

    • Thank you so much Hazel! I know the joy of learning about birds, their names and their calls. It is almost a shock how much fun it is, how that quickly that can become an important source of pleasure and happiness. Thank you so much for checking out the blog! -Linda

  • Thank you for the book suggestions, Linda. And I’d love to hear how you like The Nature Fix too.

    I love nature. Everything about it. When I’m out in it, whether I’m walking or biking, it brings an unmatched feeling of peace and appreciation. I’m grateful to be able to enjoy it as much as I do! 🙂

    • I keep wanting to start it but getting sidetracked. Primal Prosperity recommended Confessions of an Eco-Sinner which I really want to try while I am working to deal with this issue of understanding where all my money is going with all the stuff I buy. I have Nature Fix on loan from the library on my kindle and I just know it is going to run out before I can even start it. So much goodness to read! In any case, I get my nature fix from looking at pictures of your garden. I can only imagine the joy it must give in real life…

  • Thanks for the recommendations! I’d love to read The Nature Fix and just checked with my library, which has it. The Urban Bestiary looks interesting too. I’m curious to know about starlings. I needed to remove my bird feeders because they’d come in swarms, like a scene out of The Birds. They’d scare the heck out of me and Groovy Cat.

    • Oh God, I hear you. This summer I put some planters out on my fire escape and my husband and I both on more than one occasion have verbally abused a squirrel. Such a fine line between the wild creatures you want to come closer and those you say awful, horrible things to.

  • Great recommendations for some lazy summer reading! I’ll have to add these to my list 🙂

    Being outdoors has always been a love of mine and we are now working to instill this same passion for nature in our son.

    • Thank you cor commenting! I agree completely, sharing a love of nature with my children is a joy – it is really the only time I feel like we are 100% together, not distracted. -Linda

    1. Melanie 12:47pm 17 June - 2017 - Reply

      I was lucky to receive Mary Oliver’s Upstream for Christmas and loved it deeply. I will have to check out the other two!

      • Brooklyn Bread 06:40pm 19 June - 2017 - Reply

        I really loved Urban Bestiary – there are so many interesting insights. Even just about crows!

    2. Mrs. Groovy 08:19am 12 June - 2017 - Reply

      Only a real New Yorker knows what you’re talking about with your fire escape!

    3. Mrs. Adventure Rich 11:07am 10 June - 2017 - Reply

      Great recommendations for some lazy summer reading! I’ll have to add these to my list 🙂

      Being outdoors has always been a love of mine and we are now working to instill this same passion for nature in our son.

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:36pm 11 June - 2017 - Reply

        Thank you cor commenting! I agree completely, sharing a love of nature with my children is a joy – it is really the only time I feel like we are 100% together, not distracted. -Linda

    4. Mrs. Groovy 10:17am 10 June - 2017 - Reply

      Thanks for the recommendations! I’d love to read The Nature Fix and just checked with my library, which has it. The Urban Bestiary looks interesting too. I’m curious to know about starlings. I needed to remove my bird feeders because they’d come in swarms, like a scene out of The Birds. They’d scare the heck out of me and Groovy Cat.

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:38pm 11 June - 2017 - Reply

        Oh God, I hear you. This summer I put some planters out on my fire escape and my husband and I both on more than one occasion have verbally abused a squirrel. Such a fine line between the wild creatures you want to come closer and those you say awful, horrible things to.

    5. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 09:11am 10 June - 2017 - Reply

      Thank you for the book suggestions, Linda. And I’d love to hear how you like The Nature Fix too.

      I love nature. Everything about it. When I’m out in it, whether I’m walking or biking, it brings an unmatched feeling of peace and appreciation. I’m grateful to be able to enjoy it as much as I do! 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:42pm 11 June - 2017 - Reply

        I keep wanting to start it but getting sidetracked. Primal Prosperity recommended Confessions of an Eco-Sinner which I really want to try while I am working to deal with this issue of understanding where all my money is going with all the stuff I buy. I have Nature Fix on loan from the library on my kindle and I just know it is going to run out before I can even start it. So much goodness to read! In any case, I get my nature fix from looking at pictures of your garden. I can only imagine the joy it must give in real life…

    6. Hazel 12:20pm 08 June - 2017 - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your love of nature with us! Sharing nature with my family has been something I have consciously decided to do on a regular basis. We are now enamored about learning the names of the birds and trees in our neighborhood.

      • Brooklyn Bread 07:20pm 08 June - 2017 - Reply

        Thank you so much Hazel! I know the joy of learning about birds, their names and their calls. It is almost a shock how much fun it is, how that quickly that can become an important source of pleasure and happiness. Thank you so much for checking out the blog! -Linda

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