Nature Nurtures

Over Christmas I picked up a small sign to place next to the angel of patience who graces my computer area.  It reads, “Log off… Go Outside.” 

Although logging off and going outside often sabotaged my attempts at becoming a prolific writer when I lived in Santa Fe, where I went to write prolifically, I don’t seem to spend nearly enough time outside these days. 

In Santa Fe the weather, the sunshine, the landscape, the mountains, the unbelievable beauty of the place, and the options for outdoor adventures made it challenging to stay inside, especially since I could not afford a place any bigger than a teeny, tiny cliff dwelling.  (I thought what worked for the Anasazi, would work for me.  I think they were smaller people than Midwesterners.)

Now that I live in the Antarctic, I mean Iowa, it takes a little more effort – in this case going the extra mile – to get out and enjoy the elements.  At least in the winter.  Fortunately, I know I will be rewarded by endorphins, exuberant dogs, and possibly an epiphany or two if I get out and a get some natural light therapy.

The key is to be prepared.  Layers, leashes, poop bags, Puffs, and snacks are the staples of my outdoor experiences.  An essential item just added to my list this evening was ice cleats.  

Yes, these fashion accessories, like many others, may prompt you to ask your significant other the burning question.  Not, “Do these ice cleats make my bottom look big?” but, “Will these ice cleats keep me from falling on my bottom?”

You must understand, even in a relative heat wave, there are obstacles to overcome in the great out of doors. Like driveways becoming instant ice rinks.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Pink overalls, face masks, and ice cleats.  It doesn’t get sexier than that.  

I’d say just ask Bob, but I think it best we defer to the dogs, although Bob did buy the overalls.  Dogs don’t judge.  The stinkier, the goofier, the more dog treats, the better!

Regardless of how I look in these getups, as soon as I get outside, I get an instant uplift. I am so blessed to live where I have the best view in town.  The Maquoketa River flows through my back yard.  Well, it does when it’s not frozen.  It provides the most mesmerizing views.  

The dog walks are almost always along the river so we see all kinds of things from egrets lifting off the banks in the misty mornings to eagles posing for a photo op to the infamous “squirrels night out” – squirrels scampering from their post at the oak tree to party unabashedly with the birds on the balcony bird feeder.

One could say it’s a jungle out there, but there’s just too much of the white stuff to call it a jungle.  A winter wonderland, perhaps.  

So I remind myself to log off and go outside, wander about the wonderland.  When I come back, there are bound to be words waiting for me.  Five hundred, if I’m lucky.

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