I was asked to be interviewed last week by Jodi Martinson of CBC radio to chat about snowbirds going south this winter. I declined as I had committed to leading a group of ladies on a hike through the Bruce Trail. I had mentioned the radio interview opportunity to a couple of friends, and it was suggested that I do it…” great exposure.” While that was probably true, I had already made this commitment with these ladies and did not want to let them down…nor did I want them lost in the woods!! Although they are all pretty savvy, and I am sure they would have been just fine! (In case they are reading this LOL)
As I packed up my hiking bag that morning, I felt a bit disappointed to be missing out on something that I don’t normally get to do. Tank, however, was as happy as could be! When he is happy, I am happy. When he sees the hiking bag, he loses his mind. He immediately ran upstairs and grabbed a toilet paper roll, and brought it to me. Don’t ask me why…maybe he thought it would come in handy? I never know what he is going to bring down during these out of control excited moments….a king-size pillow from my bed, a comforter, socks or bra? He has literally brought them all to me! I traded him a cookie for the TP, and out the door we went.
We hopped in the car…me obviously in the driver’s seat and my trusty co-pilot up front beside me as the passenger. This was not always a given…there was a time that it was a daily fight. Tank loves to hang out the window and smile at all the kids going to school in the morning …a few know him by name and they holler, “hey Tank,” …honestly…..he DOES know how popular he is in our neighbourhood.
As we got closer to our destination, there is one street, in particular, that seems to ‘rain leaves.’ It is stunning right now! I stopped my truck to take a photo to get a pic of the falling leaves when one landed right on my window shield. I took that as a sign that it would be a great day radio talk show or not!
I met the ladies, and off we went down the beautiful Bruce Trail with Tank taking the lead. He loves to run way ahead of us and then comes barreling back towards us and whoever is in front takes the full force of his greeting at 20 MPH!
Sometimes our hikes are filled with chatter, and other times, we are all quiet, lost in our own thoughts, enjoying the sounds of the forest. It was during this quiet time that I thought to myself….I am so glad I chose to walk! If I had chosen to stay home, I would be doing laundry, trying to fit a quick walk in with Tank, probably feeling anxious about the talk show and stuck indoors for most of the day. Hiking….it was a perfect day weather-wise with the sunlight playing through the leaves, I was with a great group of ladies, and my pup was as happy as he could be.
There is a ‘thing’ now called Forest Bathing. Have you heard of it?
Forest Bathing comes from a Japanese practice called ‘shinrin-yoku.’ Shinrin in Japanese means forest and yoku means bath. Forest bathing means bathing in the forest atmosphere or taking in the forest through our senses.
Shinrin-yoku is not exercising, hiking, riding or jogging through the woods. It is simply connecting with nature through your senses. The idea is to smell, taste, touch, hear and see nature. By doing this, you bridge the gap between yourself and the natural world.
Did you know that by 2050 60% of the American population will live in cities? This is according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency. They also claim that Americans spend 93% of their time indoors! When you think about someone who works 8-10 hours a day in an office, goes home to eat dinner, does homework with the kids, goes to a gym, and then spends a couple of hours watching TV, you can actually see how this can happen.
Forest Bathing and how to do it.
To begin with, find a forest area that you are familiar with and comfortable with. You will be walking slowly and aimlessly. There are so many beautiful trails around us. The Bruce Trail (for my Canadian friends) runs from Tobermory to Niagara Falls. If you want to Forest Bathe in an area that you are not familiar with, it is better to have a guide that you can follow. Walking with no purpose is important in the whole process.
During your bathing, you will not be on your cell phone. So no fancy-dancy apps like ‘All Trails” to show you where you are (best app ever for hikers…can save you a lot of hours being lost..trust me on that one). There will be no taking pictures either. The idea is to remove yourself from technology and the outside world to better connect with nature.
Let nature in….listen to the rustling leaves or the birds singing. Look at what’s around you. Look up and see where the leaves meet the sky. Feel the earth, the bark of a tree. Dip your hand in a stream. I love the smell of the forest. I wish I could have a candle that smelled like it. So damp and earthy. Some will wonder how you should go about tasting the forest..lol…take deep breaths and enjoy the freshness of the air as it enters your nose and your mouth.
Your sixth sense is your state of mind. When you connect with your sixth sense, you have crossed that bridge. Your mood will be free of stress and happy with an open heart.
I have a Meetup group. For those that are not familiar with Meetup, it is an app that you can join to meet like-minded people. Whatever your hobby is, you can probably find a Meetup for it. Even now, during Covid, a lot of the Meetups are done virtually. You can join anything from knitting, bowling, dining, volleyball, golfing to my Meetup called Burlington Hikers, with almost 500 female members.
Burlington Hikers is not a Forest Bathing group! It is simply an ‘all levels’ hiking group. No experience is necessary.
Hiking has been my thing since the beginning of summer. I feel fit and always very relaxed after a hike.
Tank’s favourite part of hiking is finding the perfect stick. This is the retriever in him: the bigger the stick, the better. We have seen him try to pull logs out of the woods! He typically settles for a stick at least 4 feet long and navigates himself along the path, often taking us out at our ankles. I literally have rips in my pants from him!!!
He loves a good swim too…as soon as he sees water- in he goes. Tank loves to say hello to passing hikers. He is quite popular on some of the trails… people passing on our hikes will say ‘hello Tank’…and I have no clue who they are. We have obviously met them on previous hikes. Oh my gosh….can you tell HOW MUCH I love this little guy?
Typically, I hike for 2-3 hours…hiking 8 – 15 KM’s. It’s a workout…and so good for the bootie!!! I am down a dress size too!! Woo hoo! Having said that, I will probably gain it back this weekend after too much turkey, ham and mashed potatoes.
A few of us just hiked the Felkner Falls and the Devil’s Punch Bowl on Friday. It was a spectacular 13KM hike. As our reward, we stopped in at the Punch Bowl Bakery. I bought a Zucchini loaf and a pumpkin loaf and have been enjoying too many slices with my tea.
It’s hard to believe it is Thanksgiving weekend. It is my Savvy Snowbird anniversary. I think I’ve been doing this for 3 years now! This photo is from my first post! Which reminds me of the time…I really need to get focused on setting my table for tomorrow night’s feast.
To my family and friends including my new hiking buddies that I am honoured and blessed to have in my life. May this Thanksgiving bring love to your heart, health to your body, peace and joy to your home throughout the year!