This past Saturday was International Shinrin-yoku Day. Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese word translated in English as “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It’s a therapeutic treatment in parts of Asia.
The idea of forest bathing is to walk slowly in a wooded or natural spot. Don’t rush. Leave your phone home, or turn it off and don’t check it. Don’t take photos [unless you’re me]. “Shinrin-yoku is not a hike or a powerwalk. The point of forest bathing is to slow down and let your senses experience what’s around you. … Notice small details. … Observe. … Use your nose. … Listen. … Touch things.” If you bring someone with you, try not to talk until after you walk.
It’s great to get out into a canopied, wooded spot, but if you can’t, you can apply the principles of forest bathing to your daily life: “Wherever you happen to be, … look around you. Stop to look closely at plants and insects and smell flowers you pass, even on busy city streets.” [quotes from EarthEasy]
On Sunday, spouse and I took a one-hour walk on a short wooded loop, the same one we almost raced through one evening last week. On Sunday, it was chilly, not too buggy, and we walked as slowly as the chill and bugs would allow. I can’t show you what I heard, but those raucous crows were at it again, and quite a lot of other birds were calling and singing. I can’t show you what I smelled, but at various points something dead, fir, maple syrup, and of course earth. I can’t show you what I touched, but possibly poison ivy, the roughness of bark, fir or hemlock needles, the stiff plasticity and sometimes rubberiness of coral fungi, the coldness of rock in shade, the lightly etched lines of leaf miners on aster.
I can — because I brought my camera and used it — show you some of what I saw.
Ground Level – Fungi:
Ground Level – Leaves, Flowers, Ferns:
Ground Level – (more) Leaf Art, on white wood aster (Eurybia divaricata) leaves, thanks to leaf miner larvae:
Ground Level – Trail, Rocks, Roots
Ground-Level: Golf Balls
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” — John Muir