It is the time of the Autumn Equinox or Mabon and the harvest is winding down. Winter Finding marks the Norse onset of cold and winter, calling on Odin for inspiration and strength. Fall is here and that means the weather is bearable once more. The nights are becoming crisp and cool and there's a chill in the air. No matter where you live, a hidden gem of a mountain to hike, lake to kayak or beach to lounge on likely lies no more than a few hours away. Take your family on a nature walk and enjoy the changing sights and sounds of the outdoors. Listen for geese honking in the sky above you, check the trees for changing colors of the leaves and watch the ground for dropped items like acorns, nuts and seed pods.
Even for the most budget-conscious urban dweller, there are many ways to enjoy one’s natural surroundings without breaking the bank. If you live in an area that doesn't have any restrictions on removing natural items from park property, take a small bag with you and fill it up with the things you discover along the way. Collect with respect and honor. Bring your goodies home for your family's altar. If you are prohibited from removing natural items, fill your bag with trash and clean up the outdoors! Recycle what you find.
1. Stay in your state or area
Sometimes just a short drive out of your usual environment is all that is necessary to get away from it all. Each state has an extensive system of state parks, and often just a quick search on the Web with your state name and the words “state parks” will yield a hidden escape close to home.
2. Get out in the garden
Gardening in your own backyard or even on your balcony is both an excellent way to get outdoors and to grow a little bit of your own organic food. Whether a novice or seasoned gardener, resources abound such as books, gardening blogs and even groups that support the effort of local gardeners by offering classes and workshops on everything from composting to container gardening. Now is a great time to clean the old harvest and ready the garden for next year.
3. Consider a “staycation”
A staycation is a great way to enjoy all the amenities of a traditional vacation, but without traveling too far from home to do it. It’s great entertainment that’s good for your wallet and for the environment as well, as the energy used to travel is greatly reduced. Check with your local town or city parks and recreation department and get maps of local parks and hiking trails. Many cities have large parks to explore such as Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Central Park in New York City and Discovery Park in Seattle.
4. Hit the trails and pathways
There are thousands of miles of hiking trails to explore. For example, the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast runs from Maine to Georgia, and the Pacific Crest trail on the West Coast stretches from Mexico to Canada. The websites for these organizations are full of information to help you plan everything from a day hike to a month-long backpacking trip. Many of these organizations also maintain the trails and you find volunteering opportunities for trail cleanups or join a local hiking group.
5. Look for a national park
There are several ways to experience the extensive national park system – from making your way on a bike to rafting through the Grand Canyon, there is an outdoor adventure to suit every taste. From camping in Yosemite Valley in California to staying at Paradise Inn in Mt. Rainier National Park, there is also an accommodation for every budget. National parks offer a vast array of experiences and climates around the country.
Getting back to nature is not a new phenomenon. For hundreds of years, wealthy city dwellers have travelled to summer residences and summer resorts, and withdrawn to their cottages and lakeside retreats. They've enjoyed fresh air in their gardens and hunting estates. The more we rush, the more time we spend indoors staring at our screens and devices, the more urban our lifestyles become, the more we crave and need time away from it all. You will never tire of the positive effects of nature. Its calming, soothing and inspiring influence will never go out of style.
Divine Friends, we praise and thank you for the beauty and goodness of creation around us.