May is a magnificent month. I have been able to spend the first days of May outside gardening, biking, hiking and just looking for the new beginnings of spring. Birds are flying around my yard with nesting materials in their beaks, and I see new migrating birds everyday. The spring ephemerals(wild flowers): Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauty, bellwort, and blood root cover the forest floor with their magnificent plants.
May is Mental Health Month, and I promise you if you spend 20 minutes a few days a week connecting with nature and May beauty you will be much happier! Get outside daily to see the daily changes and beauty of nature. Look around pay attention and get connected to the outdoor world! I watch for butterflies, birds and new sprouting plants everyday.
The Actions for Happiness Calendar has ways to make your beautiful May Meaningful. See below.
The power of trees is enormous. They add beauty and quiet to our lives. Trees work to keep our air and water clean, and they keep us healthy and happy. Be mindful of the trees in your life! Trees create that sense of belonging and community, see the video below.
“Whether you plant trees around your home and property, in your community, or in our national forests, they help fight climate change. Through the natural process of photosynthesis, trees absorb CO2 and other pollutant particulates, then store the carbon and emit pure oxygen. Planting trees helps fight climate change.” Arborday.org
Have you been outside today? Have you found beauty or something new in nature? If you haven’t spent some time outside today, do it now! This is the perfect time of the year to get outside, walk and experience nature. Relaxing time outside is a nature-pill.
It is my fear we have become such enormous TV watchers and phone addicts that we forget to get out of our houses and cars to enjoy the outside.
If you don’t have a yard, find a park or garden near you to which you can walk or bike. Hopefully it is quiet and a place you can experience the new buds and flowers on the plants and trees, or see the birds/butterflies, or just watch the clouds pass by. Spend just a few quiet moments to just breath, relax and observe. Be mindful of the time you have outdoors.
A new study from the University of Michigan tells how time outside makes people so much happier and less depressed and stressed.
“Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.” Mary Carol Hunter
“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.”
“Participants were free to choose the time of day, duration, and the place of their nature experience, which was defined as anywhere outside that in the opinion of the participant, made them feel like they’ve interacted with nature. There were a few constraints to minimize factors known to influence stress: take the nature pill in daylight, no aerobic exercise, and avoid the use of social media, internet, phone calls, conversations and reading,” Hunter explains. Read more about the nature study here.
Take your free outdoor nature-pill, find outdoor beauty, plant seeds, touch, draw or picture, walk, observe, listen, and breathe.
Driving or using your phone doesn’t count, you need to find places near you. A place where you can take your nature-pill. I know you can find places if you try. Find a place outside that you feel made you feel like you’ve connected with nature.
Action for Happiness has the best calendar yet. How can we be more mindful in our lives? There are some terrific ideas for mindfulness below. I would add some outdoor time. Watch for signs of spring, and look for beauty everyday. I have seen new buds, birds migrating and flowers blooming. Enjoy and good luck
“The world around us,” she says, “we take it for granted. But if we pause a moment and look around, there’s so much beauty right in our own backyard. I want people to see that. I want people to realize this is not an ugly world.” Ellen Lentsch
This is an amazing story of a woman who climbed up the Red Wing, Minnesota bluffs, overlooking the Mississippi River, to take a sunrise picture everyday of 2016. Read the entire story and see her pictures here
“My vision is to create a world where we can live in harmony with nature” Jane Goodall
Earlier this month I took a road trip from Minnesota to Washington, D.C. We traveled the back roads through Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Everyday we would stop and hike in a park we came across. It was an amazing experience. Everyday we saw different trees and plants, different landscapes and birds, and a divergent mix of people. It was a lesson in diversity and beauty.
We stopped at monuments, state parks, county parks and national parks. The day we were at Gettysburg, I sat outside and ate lunch at the entrance to Gettysburg, and watched the people as they entered the park headquarters. I was struck by the diversity of people entering. It was a diverse group, of mixed ethnicity, and a range of militia t-shirts to “War is not the answer” shirts. The diversity was so interesting!
Parks and monuments are places we can all come together. They are places the wildlife can thrive, and where we all should feel welcome! In these politically divided times they are a place where everyone can meet, learn and enjoy. Parks and monuments of all kinds are what really show the strength of America! They take you to a history, gratitude and beauty of what our county truly represents. You leave feeling intense patriotism in your heart! Please support and love these amazing treasures.
To learn more about the battle of Gettysburg click here.
If each of us does a little bit, we can make a BIG difference!
Below is from the Minnesota Pollution control. View on their website here
Turf grass lawns require lots of maintenance—watering, the burning of fossil fuels for mowing and other upkeep, pesticides, and fertilizers—which impact water quality and can contribute to climate change.
Many of the non-native, ornamental plants we plant in our gardens have little value to wildlife. Some of these flowering ornamental plants produce no nectar or pollen for bees or butterflies.
You can play an important role in helping to preserve species and biodiversity in your own yard by landscaping and gardening with native plants. Replacing turf grass and non-native plants with natives—even in small sections of your yard or garden—pays big environmental dividends!
Some of the many benefits of native plants
Planting a variety of native plants increases biodiversity. We need biodiversity—it runs the ecosystem on which we depend.
Native plants provide food and shelter for wildlife. Many insects require a specific host plant to lay their eggs on and the young to feed on (e.g. monarchs and milkweeds). Animals require many different plants throughout their life cycles to remain healthy and robust.
Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they occur naturally. Many native plants have deep roots, and require little to no watering once established. These deep roots decrease erosion and filter stormwater, nutrients, and pollutants that would otherwise end up in our lakes, ponds, wetlands and streams.
Tips to get you started
Learn what you have. This will save you time and energy later on. Learn to distinguish non-native weeds from native plants. Manage the aggressive, perennial invasive plants that will compete with the native plants for space, water and nutrients. Leave or transplant any native plants you might already have in your yard.
Start small. Perhaps you have an area of your lawn or garden that needs a re-do. Areas of lawn where grass doesn’t grow well or that you are tired of mowing are perfect candidates to get you started. Reduce some areas of turf and add a pollinator garden or a raingarden.
Pick the right plants for the right place. Native plants come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Some plants grow well in full sun with sandy soils, others prefer wet soils or shady areas.
Variety is the spice of life. Try to have plants that flower in succession—different plants that bloom from early spring all the way through to the fall. Plant a variety of different types of plants—flowers, grasses, sedges, shrubs and trees. The larger variety of plants you have will support a larger variety of life.
Avoid neonics. Neonicitinoid pesticides are systemic pesticides that are taken up within the plant. There is mounting evidence that neonics are harmful to pollinators and other beneficial insects. To avoid harming beneficial insects, ask the retailer before purchase if plants have been treated with systemic pesticides.
Native landscaping doesn’t have to look “wild.” You may prefer a wild look. If you want a more manicured garden, plant selection is important. You can also utilize mulch, spacing, strips of grass, paths, and attractive fencing for a more formal look.
Support local native plant nurseries and companies. There are many great companies in Minnesota that specialize in growing or managing native plants/invasive plants. They have the expertise to give you some ideas of what plants might work for your situation. Native plant nurseries in your area will have grown local ecotype native plants—ones that came from your region that are adapted to local conditions.
Be okay with bugs!Only a small percentage of insects are pests, and the damage they do is aesthetic and oftentimes tolerable. Insects form the base of the food web. Without insects, there can be no mammals, birds, reptiles, or other forms of “higher” life.
Don’t have a yard? Consider adopting a local park or open space for planting natives. Be sure to ask for permission first. Or support non-profits and other organizations that are doing this type of work.
If each of us does a little bit, we can make a BIG difference!