A flurry of new leaves

What a difference a week makes! Our oak and maple trees exploded with new leaves this week, and we now have shade in the backyard during the afternoon. It’s that time of year, and I’m savoring it.

As an adult, I’ve always enjoyed the changing of the seasons in Minnesota. I remember commuting to and from my first job out of college; it was a joy to watch everything green up in the spring. Apparently I never noticed the subtle natural events happening in spring in my crazy days as a “kid”. In high school and college, it was like all of a sudden the flowers were blooming or that the grass was green; but, I didn’t experience the process. So much can happen each week as plants evolve with the seasons.

When I ask people where they are most mindful in their lives, so many say it’s when they are in nature. Mindfulness is just being aware and present in the moment. When we are outside, or surrounded by natural life, it’s hard to be mindless. Unless, of course, we are tied to our phones or ruminating about something. In those cases, there’s beauty in the moment that we miss because we’re trapped on the internet or in our minds.

Here are some tips for being present in nature as spring continues to change to summer:

  • Spend one minute outside with your eyes closed and smell the air. What do you notice? Can you identify the smells? If so, what is it? If not, describe the smell (sweet, earthy, musky, clean, etc.) 
  • Go for a short walk and look for 3 interesting things to gently touch – thick grass, the center of a dandelion, water flowing. Whatever is safe and available with interesting texture. Notice what your fingers sense when you feel it. Describe it to another person, or to yourself. Just remember: leaves of 3 let them be!
  • Take a mental picture of something living in your yard – a tree, a flower, a bush. Imprint it on your mind; study it so you could describe it in detail to someone when you aren’t looking at it. Then, look at it again the next day. Did it change? What do you notice that is different?

When do you recall being present in the moment when the season changes? Is it easy for you, or do you need to be intentional about noticing the shift?