In the Great North-Wet (our neck of the woods) it is actually possible to hike all day and not get wet. We have a kind of misty, drizzle that refreshes without drenching. It is a perfect formula for what the Japanese call Shinrin yoku, a form of nature therapy that has widely reported benefits to body, mind, and spirit. Just today we ventured out on the trail above a beloved river, traipsing through old growth trees, wading through newly unfurled ferns, and passing mushroom communities of several varieties, while avoiding the Devil’s Club – a rather nasty but lovely bush that brings experiences befitting its name. I touched one once. Once was enough.
The forest is always breathing, quite literally creating the oxygen we need for life, but also producing helpful chemistry that we can take in through the breath. These organic compounds have been shown to provide benefits to the immune system, blood pressure, improved sleep, and lower stress levels.
We took note recently of an article in the Journal Science about the ability of the trees in a forest to share through underground connections with other trees, including trees and bushes of different species. They can and do share nutrients such as sugars, and other helpful compounds. No tree stands alone.
The link between species is created through mycelium, the often miles long underground network that also push up mushrooms from time to time. Check out this world-wood-net article from the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet
We treasure our time in the woods as a source of renewal and wonder, a time to practice connection with nature, and with other souls that walk the path. Nature heals, restores, and revitalizes our existence. It is a treasure beyond compare.