My 2015 nature year in review

When you’re on Facebook and other social media you start following a plethora of organizations and groups that interest you. Before long they start to accumulate and your timeline is full of stuff to read, interact with and comment on.

At times it can be too much but some of the groups are pretty benign.

Nature Conservancy of Canada is one group I’ve “friended” and they place in my timeline nice stuff about the effort to save natural spaces in our country.

On Dec. 31 they sent out a challenge to encourage their friends to think about nature and natural landscapes in a meaningful way. To help us out, they provided leading questions and they encourage you to sketch, write, paint, doodle or create a collage of your nature year in review. I don’t know if I’ll get around to that but I thought I’d take up some of their guiding questions and reflect on my year in nature. Not all of the questions apply to my year but I’ll take a shot at a few. And I’m answering them in my order of preference.

The first question is what species did you learn about for the first time this year? In answering this question, I point out that I knew about dippers before but I learned more about them this summer during a nature study my daughter did for her silver Duke of Edinburgh Award that I accompanied her on.

We were camping at Buttle Lake and studying the birds of Strathcona Park. Sitting on the side of Ralph River (my favourite campground) and observing whatever we could observe, we spent an hour or two watching an American dipper at work. Those are the wren-like birds (although much larger) that hang out alongside streams. They dive under the water looking for food and they move through the water by swimming and walking  on the bottom. It was fun watching that busy little bird. I also got a couple of decent photos of it. All from right there at my campsite.

The natural area that I explored for the first time in 2015 was Yosemite National Park. This is a place I’ve wanted to visit for years and finally got a chance to last May. It was well worth the wait. As usual, I would have liked to have spent more time there but it was as beautiful and iconic as I expected.

It’s a popular American national park in California. It’s main feature is the Yosemite Valley, a cleft in the granite rocks of the eastern side of the state. It’s a very busy park, being relatively close to Los Angeles and the rest of southern California but the scenery is spectacular and deserves its reputation as a special place.

My most memorable close encounter with nature from 2015 would have to have been walking across the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge for the first time. What a great way to see Elk Falls, suspended over the canyon with a clear view of the water spilling over the edge. It was always great to see Elk Falls from any vantage point but the bridge really is a buzz.

As for the fact about the natural world that must surprise me, I’d have to say, nothing surprised me but I was happy to see all the discussion about the value of nature to the development of children and the healing power of nature for individuals.

The concept of the “green bath” was something I embraced in 2015. That involves simply going out to a green space and allowing the immersion in nature to calm you and make you feel better.

Happy 2016 everybody and don’t forget to get out in nature more often this year.