Here comes spring time. Are you excited?

Do you feel the desire like I do to be outside more?

After a long winter, spring is such an uplifting time to be in nature with plants coming out seemingly daily to grow and flower, insects buzzing around, warm days, and bird song at its peak. So much to take in. And on the flip side, so much to miss.

There are lots of ways to be outside. It is easy to get out and just jam down a trail. Sometimes that feels really good as we benefit from exercise and vitamin sunshine. Yet, in this busy life, it is also important to slow down and quietly take in the world around us. Letting nature absorb your worries and fill you with goodness can be a great balm to a busy life that pulls you in a lot of directions. — Hub Knott

Your March Nature Mission: Develop a nature observation practice

One way we get our students at Living Earth to really learn about nature is to have them find their own personal sit spot. This is a place in nature you regularly visit to observe your area. The more you go, the more you will see.

pink flower just beginning to blossom on tree
yellow flowers budding on tree in springtime

Option 1: Pick a spot you want to sit and observe from. Sit down, settle in, and get comfortable. Look around for a few moments to get oriented. Breathe in some deep grounding breaths. Close your eyes, and over a few minutes activate your senses one by one—listen to the sounds both near and far, touch your body on the earth, feel the breeze or sun on your skin, smell the spring air or a leaf, taste, and open your eyes last. Even just feel with your gut, the landscape extending out from you.

Then for about 10 minutes, imagine you are sunken into the landscape and absorbed by the surroundings. Try to observe without judging. I liken this to sitting and taking the pulse of the place in nature right here, right now, never to be the same. It is a check-in with yourself and the earth.

Do this several days a week and you will slowly come to build a relationship with a place.

Option 2: If you are one that likes a little more guidance with some focused activities, I wrote a book, Living Nature Connected: A 30-Day Sit Spot Practice, that gives you daily prompts to help you more deeply connect with the land. You can order it here or pick up a copy at Hightor Gear Exchange or the Batesville Store.

I wrote the book to give you the best practices we have been implementing in LES programs for over 20 years. And, I also wrote the book for me, as I sometimes need reminders to connect with nature and practice the fundamentals. I have done these same exercises in varying forms over the past 30 years because they really help me sink into the peace of the wild and know my place. I know they will do the same for you.

So, this spring, take a fresh approach, get outside and REALLY observe this amazing planet that is your home. Take some quality time outside for yourself, as it will give you a gift that will help you feel like you belong a little more. And you do.

Mentoring Moment: Who builds nests out of mud?

Mentoring is the backbone of the Living Earth way. We, as instructors, are not here to prove how much we know or how smart we are about nature. We use our knowledge to assist kids and adults in a process of discovery and living fully engaged with their surroundings.

A little story: One day at summer camp, a bunch of kids and I were checking out a mud puddle for tracks. We found some mysterious patterns in the mud. Little dots in parallel lines, then some scrapings in the mud. Some of them had little balls of mud associated with them. The kids couldn’t figure out who it was—a mammal of sorts, a bird, an insect….. As a mentor, I kept my mouth shut as I knew this is a rich moment of discovery for these kids. I simply said, “look around, as the answer has to be here.”

They started thinking they might be insect tracks, but who? Who would want mud? Who eats mud? One kid soon saw a black shiny wasp collecting mud and fly away with a small mud ball towards the camp hall.

I asked, “I wonder what it is doing with the mud?” A kid quickly answered for the group with excitement, “Building a nest for its babies.”

I asked, “I wonder where?” They all looked at each other and realized no one had any idea.

I asked, “How could we figure it out? Which way did that wasp go?” Eventually, they deduced a plan after observing more wasps making mud balls in the mud next to where we sat, then flying away in the same direction.

They hatched a plan: one kid went about 20 feet toward the building, and another stood by the building. When one left the mud puddle, a kid yelled here it comes, and the spotters after a few attempts saw the wasps buzz right by them about 10 feet off the ground. They eventually saw that they went behind the building, so another spotter stood back there and watched for the oncoming wasps when they heard “here it comes.” Eventually, they found the hole in the building siding where the wasps were entering to make their nest.

This felt like a special moment—one where a mentor can prompt a group into figuring out a puzzle utilizing their own innate curiosity and desire to solve a riddle. The kids came up with a super creative approach to a natural mystery, and in doing so, they felt such a sense of achievement. If I had told them what to do, the result would have been way less cool.

Turns out, this is an age-old technique to find where bees, wasps, and hornets have nests. Yet to these kids, it was an adventure, a process of working together and discovery.

Want to feel more connected to yourself, others, and nature?

Deeper Roots Immersion, a nine-month gap program, may be for you. Learn more about the curriculum and instructors here.

book cover for Living Nature Connected. woman sits on log looking out over water