Nature Notes: Observations from The Uplands Center’s Naturalist
When you think of “nice weather”, what do you imagine? Perhaps you picture a clear blue sky, a soft warm breeze, or a big round sun. It’s doubtful that images of rain, grey clouds, or cold temperatures come to mind. It is easy for us to label weather as either “good” or “bad”, and to close ourselves off from the elements which we consider unpleasant. However, I’ve found that there are outdoor delights to be discovered in all climates – if we are willing to receive them.
Different sorts of flora, fauna, and fungi tend to make appearances in certain types of weather conditions. If we seek to know our natural world in a meaningful way, it is valuable to immerse ourselves outside in all seasons and through a variety of environmental conditions. On days of grey and gloomy weather, it can be tempting to cozy up inside, effectively shielding ourselves off from nature. I am certainly guilty of this tendency at times. Yet, I’ve made a pact with myself to truly embrace all weather – to face each day with a sense of curiosity and openness.
My pact was put to the test on a cold, dreary, rainy afternoon. I had been feeling the winter blues for a few days, given the sun’s distinct lack of presence and the wind’s biting temperatures. Knowing that a trip outside could be the antidote to my despondency, I mustered up the courage to put on my rain gear along with many warm layers. I headed to the woods.
At the top of the hill in The Uplands Center’s cherry grove, my breath caught in my throat. The scene was absolutely stunning. Mist hung around the bare cherry branches, casting an eerie look to the stand. Sheltered from the wind by the surrounding trees, I peeled back the hood on my raincoat and felt the moist air on my face. All was quiet but the soft pitter-patter of rain falling from the branches to the leaf-littered ground below.
I was struck by how green my surroundings were on such a seemingly grey day. This only makes sense – rain tends to coax out green color in moss and fungi. As I wandered around the cherry grove, noticing the rich texture of bark and deep color of lichen, I felt myself becoming more at peace with every passing moment. I stepped on a twig, cracking it loudly below my feet, and a pheasant took off in flight out of a nearby bush. I laughed at the unexpected animal, which was likely watching me since I arrived.
It only took a few minutes in the fog-laden cherry grove for me to feel like myself again. This was a valuable reminder: The moments in which we least feel inclined to face the world are the moments in which we need nature exposure the most.
Learn more about our nature-based programs at The Uplands Center