Great Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

Saturday, 23 June 2018

In the quiet....

I haven't been out a lot lately for various reasons. But some of the times I have been out, I value them not so much for getting records or photos of a great diversity of things, but for the quiet and stillness I am able to experience. It is therapeutic, both mentally and physically, to escape from all of the craziness that is going on in the world.
It is interesting that the term 'forest-bathing' keeps cropping up from time to time. I read about it again just a few days ago in my most recent issue of Outdoor Photography Canada. Now OPC is a great magazine, don't get me wrong, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in photography and the outdoors. But I was bemused by this one article, which discussed forest-bathing as a relatively new phenomenon. Indeed, even Wikipedia states that it was developed by the Japanese in the 1980s as a cornerstone of preventative health care.

I beg to differ.

It is no secret that hiking slowly through a good quality natural area, and taking time to 'smell the roses', is good for one's health. Sure, I sometimes go to a natural area for the primary purpose of seeing as many species of things as I can, and so do many other people. There is no harm in that whatsoever. But there are times when visiting a natural area for other reasons is just as enjoyable, and dare I say, a whole lot better for one's health. We all are bombarded by technology that we see and may use, such as smart phones, iPads, television, etc, even out in the field, as well as all the technology that we don't see. There are myriad electronic waves going through the air constantly....after all, where else is all that technology getting the signals from and what is it doing to us. There is more and more evidence that the incidence of brain cancer, for example, is increasing as the use of cell phones has increased, and this is especially problematic with the youngest generation whose skulls and brains are still developing.

The practice of forest bathing is one that I and many others have done for years, and long before the 1980s. It has been done for generations, but no one likely referred to it as forest bathing. We go out to experience nature.....we slow down and de-stress from the constant busyness in our lives. A forest can be like a cathedral, causing one to tread lightly and in awe of our surroundings. We sit or otherwise remain fairly quiet, even motionless, and soak up the fresh air, the multitude of sounds, sights, patterns and colours all around us. We can be in one spot for quite awhile...maybe an hour or more. The longer we do it, the sharper our senses are to what is in our immediate vicinity. Even some of the wildlife may ignore us and carry on in their usual activities, which we likely wouldn't have seen if we had been on the move very much. And there is no doubt that the air is purer with greater amounts of oxygen in it since the photosynthesis of all of the greenery around us takes in the carbon dioxide and produces oxygen with fewer impurities to contend with. You don't find that in cities or rural areas!

Calm, overcast days are some of my favourite times to do this, perhaps more so with the threat of rain, since there will be fewer other people out there. These days are also great for photography, if I want to include that in my time. I recently was at Rondeau and was able to enjoy these conditions. Spicebush Trail was particularly enjoyable. I was there for at least an hour and never came across anyone else. Sometimes I enjoy encountering others and sharing what we all have seen, but sometimes it is even more enjoyable without such an intrusion.
 One part of the trail had an enormous amount of horsetail along both sides, due in part to the higher water levels this spring. I had never seen so much of it here, and it gave some interesting visuals.
 A few of the more typical plants were poking up through the dense mat of horsetails.
Maidenhair Fern
Sensitive Fern
Other things were noted in the rich green background.
Purple-flowering Raspberry
Canada Anemone
Wild Yam
One of the most distinctive features of the Wild Yam is not the flowers, but the distinct heart-shaped, pointed leaves. It is a delicate vine, wrapping itself around some of the mid-sized vegetation. In the fall, the leaves turn a very vibrant golden yellow. The flowers are tiny, and barely visible in this photo, but if you see the tiny bead-like things on an even finer stem, you are looking at them.

A Green Frog remains motionless on a nearby log, seemingly unconcerned with me in its territory but belting out its territorial call every few minutes.
A careful, slow walk along a trail revealed a rare plant: Chapman's Meadow Parsnip (Thaspium chapmanii). I know I have passed by a few of these plants on a number of occasions, barely giving them a second glance, and if it weren't for my slower approach, I would have missed it again. It is a rare species in Ontario, being known from fewer than 20 places.


Maybe on my next visit I will be doing a more aggressive blitz to find as many things as possible. But this time, it was to enjoy the world of nature for a whole different, and immensely satisfying, purpose.


  1. Looks like we have a lot in common including our first names with you using an e and me using an a. I too feel the same way you do about the forest and find myself spending more and more time there in recent years. The forest has healing powers and many of our aging minds need that these days in this increasingly mad world rapidly closing in around us...…….

    1. Hi Al....thanks for your comment, and I agree completely. Hopefully more people will take to the outdoors for these reasons, but not all at the same time!

  2. Ian and I have always been bemused by 'forest bathing'. Like you it has always been part of our lives walking through bush and trees. Growing up on a farm, that was what we did - spent every minute outside amongst the beauty of nature. Growing to love and appreciate the birds and animals, recognising their sounds, and finally checking for ticks and leaches when we got home! Greatly privileged.

    1. Hi are absolutely correct! Fortunately there are still places where one can get quite immersed in nature, although they are increasingly under pressure.