Like many people, I tweak my media channels so they generally align with my interests and opinions. One result is that since beginning this blog post series in January 2015, at least once a month I’m alerted to a book or article that supports my belief that we can all benefit from a daily dose of nature.
This month, I came across a recent research study by Stanford University scientists that found spending time in nature is good for our mental well-being: as we experience the positive distractions that come from being in nature, there’s a corresponding reduction in inward-focused, negative self talk. The research findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are summarized in this this article in the Washington Post and this article in The Atlantic.
One nearby nature practice that I’ve developed over the past few years is to walk to the nearest grocery store and/or nearest branch of the Calgary public library several times each week. I can get there and back in about 30 minutes (depending on the length of the self checkout line). As I walk, I observe the state of the cultivated and wild flowers, birds, ants, the sky, the colour and length of the grass and whether it’s going to seed, the way shadows fall, and anything else that sparks my interest. Here are a few things I noticed this month:
Nuttall’s Blister Beetle
I spotted this 2-3 cm (1 inch) beetle on a wild lupine mainly because it shines so brightly in the sunlight. I only had my phone camera with me at the time, so kept my fingers crossed that one of the photos would be properly in focus. I like to try to figure out what kinds of birds, bees, butterflies and bugs I see and I was finally able to figure out that it’s a Nuttall’s blister beetle.
These giant Allium flowers strike me as something from a Dr. Seuss book – one round flower, larger than my fist, bobbing at the end of a long stem, usually purple but sometimes white. I planted a couple dozen Allium bulbs 3 or 4 years ago and fewer poke through each spring. I think I should plant some more this fall, since bees and other pollinators seem to love them.
Rocky Mountain Mule Deer Fawn
After spending some time in Canmore and Banff, we arrived back in Calgary to find this Rocky Mountain Mule Deer fawn sitting on our front porch. It returned several times over the next few days, but I guess our comings and goings eventually persuaded its mama deer to move her babies somewhere quieter (yes, there were two of these cuties hanging around our yard).
If a bit of nearby nature has captured your attention recently, please share with a comment.