We have a short green belt near home. Most days, Riley and I walk this way, following the track and hunting lizards and ducks. Its a standard route, but one I never tire of, I look forward to getting off the concrete, away from cars, buses and anything man-made, back to nature and its gentle sounds.
It's quiet down along the trail, away from the noises of suburban 2021. I love the sound of my feet crunching along over leaves and twigs, and the sound of Rileys snout as she stops to check every fresh scent. Above us the giant gums are perfect perching spots for the noisy community of cockatoos and further along there's the far less outrageous rosella's and king parrots pottering around. If you're a forager, you could live for days off what you can find along the trail, there's blackberry nightshade, chickweed, fat hen, dandelion, mallow, oxalis, nasturtium, wild lettuce, plenty of warrigal greens and purslane if you look carefully. And all the time as we wander there's the ever-present trickle of the stream that winds along next to the track.
By the time our 45-odd minutes of green immersion are up, I feel rested, reconnected with my headspace, and most importantly reminded that there is simple beauty still to be found on my local patch of earth. A lot of the time it isn't just the two of us, it's three, with Dave taking Rileys lead to give my arms a break, and the chance to savour this pretty green space.
For so long people have sung the praises of forest bathing. Even for those who claim not to have a 'green bone in their body' there are benefits. There's an intrinsic part in all of us, I believe it goes back to our earliest form, which yearns for nature - the calming effect that trees above and dirt beneath brings to the soul. In recent years there has been more research into the positive health effect that a walk through nature provides, it reminds us of the most important need to put down the phone, step away from the desk and leave the house.
For Dave, gardening is a chore. Hedges are there to be trimmed, weeds pulled, trees sat under with a cold beer. But I've watched him unwind a little since we've been walking together. He'll enthusiastically endorse the benefits from his time out amongst the green, even though he doesn't feel that strong pull toward nature that I do.
I don't think I have many bones in my body that aren't green. And whether its walking bare foot on the beach with the sand between my toes and the salt water washing over them or wandering the trails listening to the wrens twitter, I'm home. A place to re-calibrate, breathe deep and rest my mind and soul.
From two ends of the nature-lovers scale comes a big pay off for time out in a green space around our place. And in a world that stressed our bodies through endless amounts of electronic stimulation way before the majority of us ever heard of something called COVID, boy do we need it.
So close your laptop, leave your phone on the desk and head down to your local park or bush track. Breathe deep, take your time and let the green seep into your bones.