Hard frosts and wood fires
It finally turned cold this week for us, vaulting straight from Indian Summer into Winter. For us, that has meant a couple of days tending the wood stove, which is always fun. My son and I both like watching the fire, and it’s been a time of cuddling and discussing what might happen if we put different experimental substances into the fire to get it going stronger. I let him use paper, but nothing stronger!
So now that people will be turning inward, tending to cocoon indoors in the colder weather, how can we bring nature indoors with us? It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Many people don’t have access to a forest outside their back door, so how can we lower the barriers to interacting with nature when it isn’t easy to reach?
When we can’t go out and easily find contact with nature, we need to create that access for ourselves, as much as we can. One way to do that is to create a bit of nature in our house, and I’ve put together a pdf with some tips on how to accomplish that easily in whatever space is available. It’s available through the button below, if you’d like to take a look.
I recommend interacting with your nature refuge regularly, ideally in a daily ritual that integrates it into your life in a meaningful way. I’ll come back to that next week with some ideas on how to make that happen.
In the meantime, I hope you’re getting in some good cuddle time with your loved ones while the cold weather is here!
Nature through the senses
Studies have shown that citrus scents can lift your mood and even boost the immune system. As you’re thinking about decorating for the holidays this year, it might be worth including some citrus rind or essential oil in your potpourri.
Not all sights in nature are created equal when it comes to offering benefits to human health and well-being. Turns out, we respond positively to images that are fractal in nature, which includes things like trees, flowers, clouds – generally the things we tend to think of as pretty. The effect has been known for a few years, and this article on Myndlift goes into more detail on a recent study.
No surprise, listening to sounds from nature can help relax us, but it has to be a certain type of sound. For instance, bird song is generally considered calming, but not if it’s a jarring type of bird call, like a black bird. For years, I’ve tended to listen to cello music or Gregorian chant when I need to focus on a work task, but I may try nature sounds and see if they’re more effective. The Natural Park Service has a library of sounds recorded in national parks that might be worth checking out.
If you do have an indoor area with enough light and space to grow a tray of baby leaf lettuce, that would be a good way to get fresh, natural vegetables this winter. It’s amazing how much the taste of fresh salad can lift a gray winter day!
One of the learning moments we had this week thanks to the cold weather was a minor burn from the wood stove. I had intended to wait until all of our calendula flower harvest was finished drying, but I took a half cup of the already dried flowers and made a quick infused oil to daub on the burn. It’s a good thing to have around in case of emergency. If you have time to make a cold-infused oil, it’s just a matter of submerging the dried flowers in oil (like olive or almond oil) for a month or so, then if you want to take it farther and make a balm, you have the most important ingredient at the ready.