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Wildflowers grow side-by-side with fall lettuce at the Garland Community Garden - September 2017

For the past week I’ve really been enjoying the Garland Community Garden.  It’s the perfect time of the year.  The weather is just cool enough and everything is still green and beautiful.  Our heirloom vegetables such as our beans and tomatoes are making a healthy comeback from the heat of summer.  It’s the perfect time to bring a book and come sit under the shade of a huge pecan tree in the back by our picnic table—or better yet, just come and sit.  During rush hour the dulled sound of traffic from the President George Bush road can be heard.  To me, having lived a block away from the Pacific Ocean for almost 20 years, it reminds me of the ocean and I find it peaceful as opposed to distracting.

Also the Monarchs are beginning to drift in.  Already Charlie has netted and I have tagged and recorded 10 Monarchs—8 females and 2 males.

Don’t worry if you see some spots on the picnic table.  Once in a while it may be bird droppings but most often these are stains left from half-eat pecans that fall from the branches above.  Just brush the shells off and carry on.  We have a resident squirrel who loves to eat about one-third of a pecan and then drop the rest on the table down below.  Most of them bounce off the table, but not before leaving a stain which does wash off.

Garland Parks and Recreation Department Help Us Preserve Our Green Spaces

A couple of nights ago I attended a City Council Work Session.  I was there as a member of the Garland Park Board to support Jermel Stevenson, the director, in making a budget presentation to the City Council.  I listened as Ziad, a staff member from our Parks Department, told members that a small urban forest in our City would be preserved and not torn down for “progress”.  That reminded me of an article I recently read in the summer issue of National Parks.  I’ll share it with you here. Perhaps it will inspire one of our local naturalists to become a forest therapy ranger and volunteer for our Parks and Recreation Department.

This article I recently read substantiates a topic I’ve presented more than once—the benefits of Biophilia.   The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book, Biophilia (1984). He defines biophilia as "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life".  Since the publication of Wilson’s books, there have been many scientific studies conducted that substantiate the measurable physical benefits of being in nature—things such as lowered blood pressure, slower heart rates, and in increase in natural killer cells, and other aspects of improved health.  Our parks and green spaces are ever more critical within the ecological system of our urban environment.

Forest Bathers—Soaking it All In

Shinrin-yoku, which translates as taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing, was developed by Japan’s forest agency in 1982 as a way to promote well-being in an overworked population that has one of the world’s highest suicide rates.  This practice of soaking up the good vibes through a slow walk or simply sitting quietly in the woods has spread globally.

The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs conducts training in the USA.  IN Japan, the government set up dozens of forest bathing trails that people can follow on their own or under the guidance of a forest therapy ranger.

Ranger stations allow people to measure their blood pressure before and after their walks. 

Relax in the Forest by Invitation - the medicine of being in the forest

Nicolas Brulliard, associate editor of National Parks magazine, wrote of Melanie Choukas-Bradley who is a naturalist and a certified forest therapist who has led walks in and around Washington D.C. for decades.  Brulliard reported that Ms. Bradley’s technique is to structure her walks around a series of invitations.

Examples of Invitations

“Close your eyes, relax and breathe deeply into your belly and feel the goodness of the air.”

The forest therapy ranger picks up a “talking stick” and passes it around.  Everyone is invited to take turns saying on thing they are grateful for.

Other invitations include paying attention to motion in the forest.

Birch and Bamboo Forests

The invitation to pay attention to motion raised up a memory from my past.  Many years ago when my sons were young we used to camp in the north woods of Minnesota.  We often tented up in the boundary waters near the Canadian border.  On one camping trip when trekking through the woods, we happened upon a birch forest and walked deep into the middle of its beautiful hush.  I remember the leaves fluttering and making the sunshine flicker and sparkle.  It was beautiful and quiet and reverent.  We stayed there in awe for almost an hour.

Then years later after I moved to Garland Texas via the west coast of California, I discovered that same beauty in the bamboo forest that is part of the riparian area bordering the Garland Community Garden.  This area is now closed to the visitors at the Garland Community Garden for a number of good reasons.  The riparian area has become a thicket between the garden and the creek.  It is home to a plethora of wild life as well as a noise buffer to the President George Bush tollway. 

Garland has bamboo forest all along our creeks.  I would love to see one of them opened up to the public. Being in the quiet of a bamboo forest is, like being in a birch forest, a most unforgettable and lovely experience.

SOURCE:  “SOAKING IT ALL IN – Nicolas Brulliard –Summer 2017 –National Parks magazine

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If you want to contribute to a worthy community nonprofit and haven’t decided yet, please consider a donation to Loving Garland Green.  We are the official stewards of the Garland Community Garden, participate in numerous Citizen science projects, and host several events and community campaigns for the improvement and education of Garland, Texas.

You don't have to wait until September 14th as that day might not be convenient for you.  Now you can schedule your gift to Loving Garland Green any time from September 7 to September 13th.  Of course if September 14th works for you--that's fine with us.

Beginning September 7, simply go to Loving Garland Green's information site  at North Texas Day of Giving  and you can schedule your donation for Loving Garland Green. 

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