Top 10 Ways to Get in Touch with Nature
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
Contributed by Cara Hartley, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
In today’s fast-paced world of convenience and consumerism it is easy to forget that we are all inextricably connected to the environment in which we live.
Modern living does not have to entail constant proximity to concrete, cell phones and social networking sites. The following list consists of the top ten ways to get in touch with nature for ten minutes, ten days or ten years.
What better way to leave behind the stress and worry of twenty-first century living then to don your hunting gear and take a trip to the peace and serenity of the forest, listen to the chirping of the birds and the chatter of the squirrels, bask in the magnificence of a ten-point buck…and then blow its brains out? Realistically, hunting and killing animals for food is—when done with awareness—the most healthy and environmentally friendly method of acquiring protein from meat there is.
Fishing and hunting are similar in that there is an element of destruction to these sports. One is reminded of the adage about the perks of joining the army: you get to travel to exotic places, meet interesting people, and kill them. In seriousness, as long as what is killed is cooked and eaten, both fishing and hunting offer excellent utilitarian reasons to venture into the great outdoors. There is nothing quite like the taste of a fresh fish, wrestled from the depths of a lake or river with just the right fishing accessories, wrapped in foil and cooked to a crisp over a campfire.
For a gentler means of interacting with nature all one needs is spare time and a pair of binoculars. Admiring the beauty and agility of our avian friends through a lens is a past-time that does not require of its participants miles of transport in order to enjoy. Birdwatching can take place in the middle of a forest just as easily as on a city sidewalk. Although woodlands may offer a greater variety of species, those stuck in the concrete jungle can enjoy the citified antics of starlings, crows and pigeons. Bird feeders, hummingbird feeders and bird baths will help bring nature to you.
The choice between pedaling and horsepower is a personal one, but a bike permits one of the healthiest and most eco-friendly means of enjoyment of the elements. Bikes offer a great form of exercise, an unspoken but deeply felt camaraderie between fellow enthusiasts, and a way of seeing the world that is invisible from the window of a speeding car or bus. Whether your steed of choice is a mountain bike or a fixed gear, whether you are traversing rugged terrain or carefully manicured bike trails, the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors that a bike provides is not to be missed. Amateurs and pros alike feel empowered in cycling shorts and gear for that adventure to connect with nature.
Canoeing and kayaking are the more peaceful versions of this activity, but those with a need for speed are welcome to enjoy the sun, sand and surf over the roar of their engines. Powerboats do afford the rider with the additional recreational options of water skiing or tubing, but fishing, swimming, and simply enjoying the sights and sounds of nature can be done from any type of boat. Maintaining and outfitting your boat will become part of each week’s preparation for your commune with nature of the aquatic sort.
“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world,” so was said by Paul Dudley White, and this sentiment has proven true throughout the ages. Walking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, as it can be done anywhere, by almost anyone who can lace up comfortable walking shoes, during any time of the year. If time is of the essence and an epic hiking trip cannot realistically be planned, a brisk walk around the block will raise the heart-rate, invigorate the senses, and grant the walker renewed energy.
Gardening is the ultimate outdoor sport. Gardening entails getting down on your hands and knees in the dirt, pulling weeds, batting away insects, and taking part in the miracle of life. There is something magical about gardening, something amazing about planting a tiny seed, leaving it practically defenseless against the elements, and watching as it grows into a source of nourishment and beauty. With the price of organic food soaring you can select from a huge variety of vegetable seeds, and there has never been a better time than the present to cultivate your green thumb.
Whether day-hiking or backpacking, hiking provides a splendid way to get in touch with nature. Hiking can be done in the forest, mountains and desert, with or without pricey hiking equipment, solo or with a group. All a hiker needs is transportation to his or her hiking destination, an adequate source of hydration, comfortable outdoor clothing, and the will to overcome the potential obstacles inherent to this activity: sudden storms, exhaustion, animal attacks, and getting lost. With a little preparation and a lust for adventure these obstacles can be transformed into learning blocks, which is what constitutes a major part of the appeal of hiking.
A perfect way to appreciate the comforts of home is to leave them behind. Gather your camping gear: tents, sleeping bags, cook stove and backpacks. After a week spent in the great outdoors, battling the wind to cook food over an open fire, playing musical chairs in order to keep the smoke out of your face, losing tent stakes, contracting poison ivy, poison oak, and countless bug bites, freezing and/or suffocating in your sleeping bag, and swimming instead of bathing, nothing is nicer than a hot shower, clean laundry, and the friendly, familiar glow of the television over a microwave dinner.
1. Sustainable Living
Living off the land is the quintessential method of getting in touch with nature. However, the participant must be willing to forgo most of the things that today’s society deems necessary in order to live the traditionally defined “successful” life. The shaky economy, high unemployment rates, and general uncertainty about the future make living off the grid an appealing concept to more people than ever before. As uncomplicated and utopian as Henry David Thoreau’s Walden may have made a self-sufficient lifestyle seem, simple living is not as simple as it appears. Growing what you eat, using a gray-water system, living without electricity and relying upon hunting, fishing and personal agriculture for sustenance require determination, hard work, and infallible optimism.