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Posts Tagged ‘woods’

As spring belatedly decided to show up in our neck of the woods, a Hollywood movie crew turned the town into a Christmas set, building a crèche in front of a picturesque church, decorating store windows with candy canes, snowmen, and plastic poinsettias — and spreading fake snow on lawns that had barely recovered from an April 1 blizzard. It was a little weird. One friend said she looked up from washing dishes at her kitchen window and saw what looked like a gigantic spaceship hovering over the trees. It was the boom for the cameraman.

In more seasonal news, spring flowers began to poke out. Woodland walks were taken. Mushrooms and lichens were admired.

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At first I saw no art. I didn’t enter the woods where the sign was, and I thought, “Maybe I have the wrong time.”

But the Hapgood Wright Town Forest is a work of art in itself, and I was up for a walk. The hilly pine-needle paths, the pond, the sounds of bullfrogs, wind in the trees, unfamiliar bird calls — all lovely. Then bit by bit, I began noticing pieces of art, part of the 2016 Art Ramble, which can be seen in the woods until September 5. How good of artists to do this!

The Umbrella Community Arts Center explains on its website, “This collaborative project with the Concord Department of Natural Resources celebrates all the arts. Sculpture, poetry, dance, and dramatic readings encourage the intersection of art, nature, and community in a historic natural setting.

“The arts offer a doorway for exploring our relationship with nature and place. An exhibit map will guide you through the exhibit at your own pace. And our calendar of special events and activities offers numerous opportunities to engage with the artists and with nature along the trails.

“We invite you to visit often, reflect, and play.  Share your experiences via writing and drawing in the journals provided along the trail.  Or make your own art using natural materials in the forest.”

[Nancy, this sounds like an event you organized last year.]

Curator Ursula Ziegler says, “It’s been a rumble-tumble-fantastic-interesting road, and it has already exposed us to so many interesting-important dialogues, thoughts, and ideas. Beyond the visible part of art works in a public space, there is an equally important but less visible part, which are the conversations, networks, and structures that are created within our local community and beyond.”

I took some pictures of ceramic toadstools, a QR code I don’t know how to use that would have identified an artist, sapling-like totems (or totem-like saplings), a small sculpture of a boy attached to a tree, fluttery dragonflies and the sign I missed on entering.

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Here is my latest photo roundup, but the picture I’d hope to start with will not appear.

I thought I was in the 1960s film Blowup. I spent ages (well, at least 30 minutes) zooming in on a photo I took of what I’m pretty sure was a bluebird. When I finally found the bird in the background of woodland twigs and leaves, he was so blurry I couldn’t use the picture to confirm the identification. So no photo of a bluebird for this post.

I have two other photos from walking in the town forest, one of Fairyland Pond and one of trail markers, including the Emerson-Thoreau Amble.

Next is my youngest granddaughter chasing a squirrel up a tree on Easter (love the shot my husband got). My oldest granddaughter is captured mid-Easter-egg hunt. The robin stayed stock-still for his portrait that afternoon.

The window fish was painted by my younger grandson at his Montessori nursery school. As usual, I couldn’t resist shooting shadows.

Now, about the shadows on brick. For nearly three months, until the moment when the sun shone through the alley (like the sun that shone on the keyhole to Smaug’s back door in The Hobbit), I thought the window in the renovated building was smack up against a wall and there was nothing to see there. What a lovely surprise!

I’m wrapping up today’s collection with a license plate from the Pawnee Nation. Since the Pawnee Nation is in Oklahoma and the car was in Providence, I’m intrigued and hope to learn more. Here’s the tribe’s website.

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An article by Gretchen Reynolds at the New York Times “Well” blog details new research on the stress-reducing effects of walking in nature.

Reynolds writes, “City dwellers [have] a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centers …

“Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.

“But just how a visit to a park or other green space might alter mood has been unclear. Does experiencing nature actually change our brains in some way that affects our emotional health? That possibility intrigued Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University.

In his “new study, which was published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mr. Bratman and his collaborators decided to closely scrutinize what effect a walk might have on a person’s tendency to brood. … Such rumination [is] strongly associated with increased activity in a portion of the brain known as the subgenual prefrontal cortex.”

The results: “As might have been expected, walking along the highway had not soothed people’s minds. Blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex was still high and their broodiness scores were unchanged. But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk.” More here.

As we used to chant to our overexcited dog when we picked her up after a grooming, “I’m calm, you’re calm.”

Try out this Derek Wolcott poem for your walk in the woods. It is read on SoundCloud by my husband’s college classmate, Jon Kabat-Zinn.

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As a kid of 10 or so, I played in the woods, frequently all alone. It was magical.

As an adult, I wonder if it’s no longer considered safe. I don’t ever hear of children playing in the woods. That’s why I was interested to read about a growing movement called Forest Schools.

Siobhan Starrs writes for the Associated Press, “In the heart of north London lies the ancient Queens Wood, a green forest hidden away in a metropolis of more than 8 million residents. The sounds of the city seem to fade away as a group of children plays in a mud kitchen, pretending to prepare food and saw wood.

“These aren’t toddlers on a play date — it’s an unusual outdoor nursery school, the first of its kind in London, following a trend in Scandinavia, Germany and Scotland. It allows local children to learn, and let their imagination run free, completely surrounded by nature. …

“Each morning a group of children gather at the Queens Wood camp, which the nursery team prepares each morning before the children arrive. A circle of logs provides a place to gather for snacks, stories and songs. The mud kitchen provides an opportunity to make a proper mess and have a sensory experience, a rope swing provides some excitement and a challenge, and several tents are set up for naps and washing up.

“In a clearing in the woods, a fallen tree trunk can be transformed by imagination into a rocket train, calling at the beach and the moon, with leaves for tickets.

“A 2-year-old, Matilda, finds a stick — but in her mind it’s not a stick. It’s a wand. She says she is a magic fairy who can fly. Then suddenly the stick has become a drum stick, and a gnarled tree stump her drum. She taps away contentedly, the rhythm all her own.” Read more here.

Speaking of fallen tree trunks, I particularly remember a big tree that fell in the forest after a storm and the fun a friend and I had making up stories on it.

Photo: Matt Dunham/AP
Forest schools are increasing in popularity in the United Kingdom.

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A sunny day for outings. First to the fabled Korean grocery, where salmon and pickled radish were cheap — if you don’t count the gas for the trip.

Then to the town forest for a walk with the Father in Chief.

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