Nature’s stress relief

Ah, the soothing sound of a babbling brook! I recently returned from a vacation trip to Colorado. It wasn’t a whirlwind, action-packed, sightseeing, tourist kind of trip. It was more of a let-it-go, kick-back, unwind and relax trip. And at the center of that kind of trip is nature — lakes and streams, shimmering aspen trees, secluded trails, a little wildlife, wildflowers and scenic vistas.

I love the sound of a rushing Colorado stream. While we were there, we dined creekside, walked along a trail that followed a gentle stream, and hung out, just listening to the sound of the water cascading over the rocks. I could sit and read or write with that sound as a backdrop for hours!

For me, the water is mesmerizing to watch, and soothing to listen to, especially if the creek is moving fast enough to drown out traffic and other noise. It’s as if nature is saying, “Ahhhh, take a break.”

Enjoy this little snippet!

 

Are there other sights and sounds of nature that give you pause and refreshment?

Darlene

A little peace and quiet, please!

Sometimes you just gotta get away.

We were in Orlando a few days ago for spring break, the destination determined by our son’s tennis team. We deliberately elected not to visit the crowd-magnet attractions such as Disney World, Sea World or Universal Studios. And yet, we could not escape the crowds. Of course I didn’t expect to have the place to myself, but there were times I found myself about ready to run screaming to try and get away from all the people. They were everywhere. The beach was crazy. The parking was challenging. And. The. Traffic. The nearly stand-still lanes of cars creeping along the highways between Clearwater and Orlando made for a stressful and tedious drive.

But finally, on the next-to-last day of our trip, it happened. We got away. We found ourselves on roads with few other cars in sight. Call me crotchety, but I just don’t enjoy listening to screaming children, being run into, being coughed on or having my freshly-pedicured toes stepped on. Crazy, right?

P1080353The answer? Nature. I said before we left that I’d like to see some alligators from a safe distance, and preferably from our car. And we did!

We discovered that outside of Orlando, near the Kennedy Space Center area, are some awesome nature sanctuaries. We spent several hours meandering by car along gravel roads through scenic marshy areas that were full of wildlife – gators, turtles, hundreds of birds, butterflies, and the occasional wild pig.

Several times, we stopped along the road and simply took in the scenery around us. We gaped at the alligators and watched flocks of birds skim across the waters and lift into the sky. We saw interesting foliage and grasses. We took our time – and lots of pictures. It was quiet. Peaceful. Refreshing.

And for this introvert, much fun. 🙂

Do you have a favorite get-away?

Real flower or cheap plastic?

I’ve got spring break on my mind. And sunshine. And all the things I love to do when we’re in California, like go to the beach and stroll through Huntington Gardens. Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places. It’s absolutely beautiful with a stunning Japanese garden, rows and rows of gorgeous camellias, and one of the most incredible desert succulent displays I’ve ever seen.

On my last visit, I went by myself, and was able to go at my own pace, leisurely strolling along and taking about a bazillion pictures. Some of the strangest plants reside in the succulent garden. You might look at the photos here and think I picked up that cheap plastic flower at a craft shop or pulled it from an ancient, dusty floral display at an estate sale.

Nope. This flower is real. That color is real. I’d never seen that color in nature before! It really does look fake, both in color and texture. It grows almost like a yucca, standing several feet tall. With a little internet research, I found it’s called a puya flower. One site even had it listed in a collection of plants “from a bad sci-fi movie!”

I’m not sure I even like it, probably because it doesn’t look real, doesn’t seem to fit in with the other flowers. But it kind of fascinates me, too. I love flowers. I attempt to grow them, but heat, rabbits, squirrels, mosquitoes, etc. prevent me from doing a very good job of it. So I tend to get my flower fix at public gardens. Whether I discover a new-to-me plant variety or just enjoy acres of beautiful color, they’re just plain fun. My eye candy!