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Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

Tired? Stressed? Too much work, shopping, and time spent tethered to a screen? Perhaps a break is needed in which to do some quiet forest bathing.

Forest bathing first originated in Japan where it is known as shinrin-yoku. There are no fluffy towels, soy candles, or scented soaps involved because shinrin-yoku is a slow and tranquil walk through a pristine wilderness. It can become an uplifting experience – one with many well documented health benefits.

Alone or in a small group, select a forest with shrubs, ferns and a good density of old established trees. Stand among them for several moments, breathing slowly to release your mental chatter. When you feel a sense of inner quiet, place your attention on the natural world and begin a deliberately slow walk.

Try to engage all your senses by touching the textures of plants and tree trunks, listening to the quiet murmur of the forest environment and the occasional ring of birdsong. Focus your eyes on the surrounding scenery as you inhale and taste the aromas of the foliage. Essential oils are emitted from plants and trees to protect them from insects and predators, and this phenomenon has been described as, ‘natural aromatherapy.’ Through the stillness and your sense of immersion in nature, an experience of inner peace will grow within you.

The Japanese have a word, karoshi, which means death by overwork. There is so much stress among ordinary Japanese people, they were the first to recognize this problem and develop a way to deal with it. Studies have been conducted in Japan by Dr Quing Li, an Associate Professor at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School. His scientific data has proven that forest bathing can lead to a boost in one’s immune function and mood. A forest walk has also been hailed as a legitimate therapy for preventing hyper tension, depression and stress.

Here in Australia another initiative that aims to connect people with nature is found in the organization, Healthy Parks – Healthy People. Check out its website, one that is both interesting and information rich, at www.hphpcentral.com

To gain maximum benefit from a forest walk, rest when you feel tired and drink water if you are thirsty. Take plenty of time to sit and engage with the scenery, or read a book. Forest bathing is freely available for everyone to enjoy. Shinrin-Yoku’s central idea is to allow nature the quiet time and space in which to work its magic on you.

 

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Surprises can arrive out of the blue at any time. Several days ago a letter arrived in my inbox with a message that my blog has been awarded a place in the top 100 Nature Writing blogs on the web. I was amazed and delighted, particularly as I share this list with National Geographic, BBC Earth, the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy. What an honour!

I began writing my blog in 2012 by publishing a weekly post. I selected this particular theme as I wanted to explore descriptive prose writing in the essay form, while combining it with my photography. To date I have published 193 posts and will continue to contribute monthly. This blog has become my joy and a labour of love.

 

Back Roads and Byways

A wide strip of winding road disappears into the hinterland behind us. Like some primordial serpent, it glides over hills and slips down embankments, all the while grasping every contour of the land in its close embrace.

Nearby a towering tallowwood captures our attention. Its strong trunk, covered in rough shards of orange and brown coloured bark, gives way to multitudes of smaller branches. These continue their climb toward the light, diminishing in size until each bough ends in a branchlet, then in a twig.

The roadways also mirror this pattern. Side roads branch away from the centre, morphing from bitumen into gravel and onward into sand. Many of these roadways end in a narrow dirt track overgrown with grasses and scrub.

The hinterland: all those places back, beyond, and further out, calls to the traveller.
“Come follow me as we explore the back roads and byways. My scenery—remote, beautiful, and untouched—will heal and inspire you. In these wondrous places you will learn to appreciate my stillness, nature’s intense colours, and the open sky ringing with birdsong. Enjoy your discovery of secret highlights and beauty spots along these ways.  You will be forever enriched by them.”

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
I took the one less travelled by.”

Robert Frost

 

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as spring arrives
our hearts expand
like peach blossoms

spring sings
as daisies awaken
to a warm sun

flaming tree –
nature’s spring paintbox
a red dazzler

 

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wreath-for-the-blog

This is my final blog post for 2016.
Have a fantastic Christmas and
here’s to a big and beautiful new year ahead.

Cheers,
Mary

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colours-of-broome

“The earth has music
for those who will listen.”

~ George Santayana

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The sun feels warmer on our backs and the days are spreading out. Its time now to get adventurous and enjoy the delights of the early summer. Toowoomba, one of Australia’s garden cities, is located west of Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane. A university and cathedral city, Toowoomba’s residents also enjoy its 150 spectacular parks and gardens. Situated high on the crest of the Great Dividing Mountain Range, with its cooler climate and rich volcanic soil, ‘Absolutely everything will grow here,’ say the locals. By way of celebrating their love of all things horticultural, a Carnival of Flowers is offered every year during September.

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   To savour the delights of this festival, our first stop includes the magnificent grounds of the Laurel Bank Park. Here an incredible free-growing meadow has been planted. Visitors wander amongst a cacophony of colour as they stroll through tulips, daisies, pansies, and an arbour festooned with lavender wisteria.

laurel-park-wisteria

   Our next stop at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, leads to a room where landscape and botanical paintings from the gallery’s collection have been hung. Scattered among the pictures are stunnng sculptural works, created by members of the Toowoomba Ikebana Group. Decorated in the Japanese style, each piece showcases fresh flowers, leaves, and branches – all appearing in their individual beauty.

ikebana

   After a tasty lunch and a strong coffee, we decide to spend the rest of the day in the city’s heart. Here lies Queens Park, Toowooba’s premiere site. This key landmark is the focus for the 176th Carnival of Flowers, its Flower Market, the Food and Wine Festival and a Live Concert Series. Many activities are happening here.

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   We enter  the park through a lovely cherry blossom walk into the expanse of a typical 19th century Victorian park land and botanical garden. It has been styled as a parterre garden, presenting an arrangement of ornamental flower beds in various sizes, shapes, and colours. All are contained beneath a canopy of stately trees and between areas of expansive green lawns.

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   During the 2015 Carnival of Flowers, 100,000 visitors flocked to Toowoomba from far and wide. It was a delight to see so many with us again this year, absorbing the beauty and peaceful ambience of the park. Cameras and smart phones were snapping away in every pair of hands as the children roamed and played freely among the parterre beds. The weather had also been kind as the day was warm and sunny. We finally left the park on a botanical high, and next year we plan to do it all over again.

  queens-park-tulip-time

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blue-corn-flower
(a corn flower, also known as the bachelor’s button)

At last, its finally arrived! Our long awaited spring has blest us with sun-drenched days, and a cacophony of bright blooms decorating gardens, shrubs and trees everywhere. While meeting with friends at a garden centre cafe, we exclaim over the palette of yellow, orange, red, pink, purple and white blossoms on display. Then one of us poses a question that makes everyone stop and think. ‘Why are there so few blue flowers here? Is it because nature doesn’t produce them?’

I venture a reply. ‘There are many blue flowers available for the garden from deep royale blue to a pale pastel blue. Do a Google search for “blue flowers” and you’ll be surprised at what’s on show.’

Below I have listed several blue flowers I really love. They include the blue hydrangea, the morning glory, the statice, and the iris.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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blue-iris

Last but not least is my very favourite blue flower, the Himalayan Blue Poppy. Once you have seen it, you will never forget its heavenly shade of blue.

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