Friday, June 5, 2015

Take Time: Enjoy Nature

It’s the beginning of June, the unofficial start of summer! We northerners live for these glorious, warm summer months when we can enjoy being outside. There’s nothing like soaking up the sun at the beach or camping in the woods.

Photo: Jon Eckert

But summer is short-lived so in this month’s Take Time Series I want to encourage you to get outside and enjoy nature! Because cold, dark winter months will be here before you know it and we’ll have to go back to huddling around the fire to stay warm.

When we spend time outside in nature, we feel happier and better connected with God and His creation; it gets us away from our computer screens and technology. It forces us to take time to slow down and enjoy what’s around us - we notice how green the leaves are, how tranquil the waves at the lake are, how cool the sand is, and how wonderful the warm breeze feels! Being outside boosts our vitamin D, clears stress and increases sleep quality.

Here are some ideas for enjoying nature in the warm months (and maybe even a little in the cool months):

Visit a Nature Center


Outdoor Concert Series
  • Jazz at the Park (formerly Jazz at the Zoo) at Ah-Nab-Awen Park every Monday evening from June 8 to August 10. Bring your lawn chair and a picnic to enjoy the fabulous music for free.
  • Picnic Pops (Grand Rapids Symphony) at Cannonsburg Ski Area

Farmers Markets

County/City Parks 
  • Walk the trails
  • Have a picnic
  • Swim in the lakes
  • Play frisbee
  • Lay on a blanket and read a book

Baseball Game
We’re fortunate to have the West Michigan White Caps for a reasonably priced evening of outside fun.

  • We live in the Great Lakes State - go visit one!
  • Have breakfast on the beach
  • Watch the boats come and go through the channel to Lake Michigan
  • Walk the piers out to the lighthouses
  • Build a sandcastle

Explore Downtown
What new place or restaurant can you discover in your downtown? 

Simple Ideas
  • Backyard BBQ with family or neighbors
  • Walk the dog in the neighborhood or a park that allows pets. (Or even a dog park!)
  • Watch a sunset with a dish of fresh fruit
  • Watch a sunrise with your morning coffee
  • Choose the patio seating when you eat out
  • Sit on a bench at the local park to eat your lunch
  • Plant a garden
  • Collect leaves on a nature trail
  • Rent a paddle-boat and go for a ride on the water
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Rent a kayak
  • Exercise in the park (there are groups who meet to do this)
  • Go berry picking
  • Visit the county fair
  • Go to festivals or craft shows (Festival of the Arts)
  • Fill a kiddie pool with water (or sand), sit with your feet in it  and sip some iced tea
  • Play miniature golf
  • Nap in the sun in a hammock or chaise lounge
  • Go fishing
  • Lay on a blanket and look at the stars
  • Put out a bird feeder and identify the birds that come

Obviously I’ve written for the West Michigan crowd, but search these types of venues and events in your local area and explore what’s unique to your region!

Get out and enjoy nature. Notice what’s around you - see the colors, smell the aromas, hear the sounds and thank Jesus that you are blessed to be able to experience the beauty around you.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy nature?

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Read my previous post: 24 Healthy Potluck-Dish Ideas