A Dose of Vitamin N: 6 Tips to Unplug this Spring and Get Some Green

Melanee Evans delights in the raiment of a Northwest spring with her dashing husband and three puddle skipping daughters. Published in the Columbia River Reader March 15, 2012.

The graceful chartreuse of spring is upon us, and with it, more rain. While we’d love to pack our galoshes and raincoats in the attic, we still have a few months to celebrate nature in all its drenched finery. Fortunately, the luxury of living in the Northwest provides us plentiful and easy excursions that may benefit our health and happiness levels too.

In his groundbreaking book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, author Richard Louv connects a child’s direct exposure to nature to a greater ability to focus, higher test scores, healthy weight, improved mood, and increased creativity. Researchers also agree that what’s good for children, is good for grownups too. Studies conducted in Sweden revealed that exercisers who jog in green and natural settings feel more relaxed, restored, and less anxious and depressed than those who burn the same amount of calories in a brick and mortar building. Further studies suggest that adults who spend just an hour in nature experience an increase in memory and attention span, and increased productivity at work.

So this spring, instead of staring at the screen or hiding under a rock until summer, unplug from virtual reality and nourish yourself with a daily dose of Vitamin N instead.

Need some simple ideas to enjoy nature in spring weather? Here’s a few tips to get you started.

  • Sunrise: Arise before dawn, fill your thermos, and find a spot in nature to sit in quietude to watch the sunrise. Watch for the edge of the sun lift against the changing backdrop of the sky. March and April sunrise times vary, and can be found online.
  • Indoor Nursery: Walk through an indoor nursery or garden center, not to make a purchase or plan your next patio party, but to simply observe the plants and shrubs. If you want a token of inspiration, jot a few notes in a garden notebook, or buy a packet of your favorite seeds for an indoor herb garden.
  • Umbrella: Add a splash of verve to your nature walk and choose a fashionable umbrella in a vibrant color.The cheeriness of yellow, the bold energy of red, the sophistication of purple, the warmth of orange, and the friendliness of turquoise are lovely choices for a jaunt around town.
  • Lemon or Gardenia Tree: Buy a small lemon or lime tree, a gardenia or orchid plant and put it in a pot in a bright indoor spot.Take a moment each day to look at it’s beauty, breathe in its scent, and develop a friendship by sharing a happy word or two.
  • Shades of Gray: How many shades of gray sky can you identify? Observe the sky as a painter would, and give each shade a special name. Pewter, Sea Pearl, and Stone Harbor Gray. Colonial, Whippoorwill, and Cobblestone Gray. For more ideas, collect gray paint chips from your local hardware store and match them with the sky.
  • Puddles: Few spring activities revive our joy of childhood like splashing across puddles with a child. Leather shoes, rubber boots or barefoot, dancing to the beat of a child’s happy tune in pools of rain just can’t be beat.

What are a few of your favorite rainy-day nature activities for spring? 

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