The beautiful leaves of October blew away quickly with a few windy days in early November. Trees now wear their winter bareness. One light snowfall midmonth let New Englanders know that winter is indeed near. Gray days, freezing temperatures, and no overnight parking on city streets is our new reality…for a few months, anyway.
Earlier this fall I became acquainted with a practice from Japan known as “Shinrin-yoku” which means forest bathing. After two guided forest bathing walks, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of this practice. The walks go at a slow pace while the guide urges participants to consciously use their senses to connect with the natural world. As an example of this connection, our guide asked us to stand with eyes closed and gradually turn around while stopping frequently to notice the smells in different directions. One of my walks took place near a lovely horticultural center in Massachusetts on a sunny day. The other was on a cloudy day in Maine beside a beautiful river that ran through the forest. Both walks gave great pleasure. I discovered that scientists have measured many positive benefits of forest bathing. Trees give off certain compounds that support our immune system in fighting cancer cells and walking slowly enables our body to absorb these compounds. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol decrease after a 2-3 hour slow forest bathing walk. Lowered blood pressure and heart rates have also been noted. I wanted to share this information with you because I’ve also learned that the average American spends about 93% of their time indoors. Yuk!
Finally, as with over 113 million people (49.3% of registered voters), I voted in the midterm elections. There is one polling place in Exeter. Going into the school auditorium, voters passed through a gallery of posters and people touting the various candidates. Beyond the entry doors, no signs are permitted but the local garden club had a bake sale and the aromas of various confections were enticing. I almost resisted…
Now, wishing you all a restful and renewing holiday season. I’ll be back in January with more New Hampshire Notes.