Monday, July 23, 2012

Nature Vacation

The five hour drive to Kings Canyon Sequoia National Park is mildly interesting until we actually hit the edge of the Sequoia Forest. The yellow hills, almond farms and mobile parks taper off in the distance and give way to majestic redwooods with amber glowing bark. It would take ten men to circle these trees with their arms outstretched. The soft, fuzzy bark is deeply etched with ridges and many with cave like holes, black scars from fire. We roll the windows down and breathe the fresh, highly oxygenated air and inhale the scent of burned wood.

"It smells like a campfire! Mmmmm marshmallows!" shout my sons from the back seats.
Our anticipation has me turn off the radio and just search the forest for signs of life. When I see a young deer, my heart is full with joy, more than any amusement park ride, I delight in catching a glimpse of evidence that we humans have not made every wild animal extinct. All is not lost.

Later, as I lie in our tent, cozy and warm and listening to the rush of the nearby mountain spring water flow, I hear the grunting of a bear not too far away. I am reminded that I am but a visitor in his neighborhood. We respect the distinction between human and wild life by locking everything up in the metal bear box.

In the morning the children will spend hours playing by the river. I will let the cool water run through my toes and bask in the warm sun on a smooth rock. My husband will read in his camping chair, partially in the water, while keeping an eye on the kids. The boys will laugh and splash and be the best of friends. My husband and I will catch each other's eyes with the recognition and awe that we created these awesome boys, this amazing adventure and this moment. It will be more restorative than any spa and we will be happier and connect more than at any amusement park or posh hotel. The children will get dirty and play all day in nature and we will point out opportunities to the fish swim or ants carry their food. And we will breathe...and find that nothing is lost. We are, in fact, found.

A recent Oprah magazine article stated:

Walk in the Woods

The Japanese knew that shinrin-yoku, or "forest bathing," does wonderful things for the body. But now researchers at Tokyo's Nippon Medical School have quantifiable evidence: In one study, women who spent two to four hours in the woods on two consecutive days experienced a nearly 50 percent increase in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells.

Read more:

May you enjoy many days in nature this summer.
Zen Honeycutt

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