December has brought so much happiness and joy, but one of the biggest surprises was a snowstorm nobody quite expected. Our part of the state reported a record 11 inches. Not bad for Alabama. And while roaming the property simply in awe of all the beauty, hardly another thought popped into my mind for those two quiet hours. It was a ‘winter whites’ meditative kind of walk…one we’ll always remember.
Babies bring new life and energy to our lives, and remind us what it’s like to see the world anew again. Out here we have a new addition who’s helping us do just that. We’re ecstatic to introduce you to Tallulah Star! She’s a happy, wonderful mess at this stage and still learning the ropes. But she’s growing into a great family farm dog and we’re all smitten. (Here’s hoping she grows into those big ears soon!)
The green canopy of the back woods is calling our names…for long walks, trail rides, meditation, dog jaunts, chanterelle seeking and more. It’s a real thing, these trees that beckon, and when we get deep among them they fill our minds and bodies with peace. So when we lost 40 (yes, 40), 40-year-old giant Leyland Cypress trees due to the effects of last year’s drought, it nearly broke our hearts. But Mike D’Avanzo, who never backs down from a worthy challenge, immediately got busy chopping down dead trees, hauling out stumps and branches and burning them, and talking to friends, arborists and horticulture experts about replanting options and hardier species. Then we started all over again, ordering 40 baby trees and planting them all over the place. We know it will take years — decades even — for them to reach the heights of their stately predecessors, but we believe it’s our duty to do this for the next generation…much like they were gifted to us when we moved here.
In Japan, shinrin-yoku, also known as “forest therapy,” has been gaining more and more credence here in the U.S. The Wall Street Journal ran an article just last week on “tree therapy” as a way to fight what ails us. Mother Earth News prescribes “forest bathing,” or time spent in green spaces, as a way to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase our immune defense systems. Outside Magazine says this slow-nature movement is a necessity and that, since the age of the Internet, North Americans have become more aggressive, more narcissistic, more distracted, more depressed, and less cognitively nimble. Yikes. We didn’t realize there were so many labels and scientific findings on the subject. All we know is that we simply like walking in the woods. And we plan to spend a lot of time doing just that, “in treatment,” this summer. 🙂
It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
Tonight as we were feeding the horses, a low fog rolled into the wet pastures just as the sun was setting. It was beautiful. And as I excitedly tried to run back to the barn to grab my phone, I tripped over a fence wire and went Splat! Right into the mud. But never mind that. We still got the pictures. 🙂