How to Get Your Nature Fix From Home
By Alexandra Sixt
Though some restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifting here in Michigan, it is still important to practice caution when going to public spaces. Social distancing guidelines recommend that people limit travel and avoid larger crowds, possibly making visits to natural areas less feasible. But don’t worry—there are plenty of other ways to get your nature fix beyond the preserves, and many of them are closer than you’d think! In fact, there are a variety of outdoor activities that you can perform from your window, porch or backyard to appreciate nature’s wonders. All of these can be performed within social distancing guidelines to help you admire nature from a safe distance.
The next time you need some time in nature, try one of these activities to get your fix while staying safe:
Meet backyard nature.
When you can’t make it to a preserve or park, turn to your own backyard! We may not always notice it, but backyards, sidewalks and courtyards are filled with natural activity. Start by observing the species within your yard from a window or porch, noticing the birds, bugs, and other creatures that visit. As you begin to identify and recognize species, consider starting a nature log to track the natural visitors and their behaviors. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to recognize the species in your yard and have a better understanding of their habits!
Search for common plants.
Although “weeds” are typically unwelcome by most homeowners, some have many other uses besides taking over gardens and sidewalk cracks. Before your next walk in the neighborhood, do some searching online to learn about common plants you may encounter that have useful qualities. Some examples of common plants to search for are broadleaf plantain, purple dead-nettle, and common blue violets; all of which have traditionally been used for their medicinal properties and can be found growing in yards or open spaces.
Paint what you see.
Nature is full of beautiful views; even in your backyard. Painting natural spaces and species is a great way to get your nature fix while also getting your creative juices flowing. To add an extra natural element, add items you find outdoor to your pieces. Leaves, rocks or twigs can all add an extra creative and educational element to paintings. This is a great activity for families to learn about backyard nature together!
Make a pollinator-friendly garden.
We may be staying inside more than normal, but the pollinators are not; especially with the arrival of Spring. Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes, from bees to hummingbirds. A variety of species help to pollinate your backyard plants. To support these beneficial creatures, consider making a pollinator-friendly garden; they don’t require a lot of time or space and can bring a lot of life to your backyard. Plants like bee balm, coneflowers and asters will look beautiful and provide pollinators with an abundance of nectar!
Play “I Spy.”
Games are a great way for kids to admire and understand the nature around them. A simple game of “I Spy” can help the little ones (and adults) notice the plant and animal species around them. This can be done either indoors or outdoors, so it’s perfect for experiencing nature in any weather. Bonus points if the spotter can also name the species they find!
Sit back and smell the flowers.
Long days spent at home can always be remedied by some time spent in nature. Pull up a chair to a window or into your backyard, and enjoy the sounds and sights of the nature around you. Notice the smell of spring flowers, the distant birdsong and the sound of rustling leaves in the trees and take a few minutes to fully relax.
Alexandra Sixt is a Land Conservancy of West Michigan volunteer.