Find your own nature preserve

Many have heard of Henry David Thoreau’s place of refuge — Walden Pond — where he would retreat for deep thought and reflection. In his own words, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” 

Celebrated impressionist painter Claude Monet also had a sacred space—a lily pond—that offered him succor and inspired some of his greatest paintings.

What we may not know is that Walden Pond was only a mile and a half from the town center of Concord, Massachusetts. Monet’s place of refuge was at his house in a French town, Giverny, just an hour from Paris.

When I visited each sight, I sensed the beauty and tranquility, but I was surprised to discover that they were located in common, somewhat mundane neighborhoods. They weren’t hundreds of miles from civilization in the midst of a primordial forest. They were … in the backyard.

In the past several years I have developed an appreciation for the therapeutic value of spending time in nature, both alone and with a few family members. My daughter and son-in-law have created a nature preserve on two acres at a local lake about 60 miles south of Dallas. We enjoy observing wildlife, noticing the consistency and beauty of the four seasons, the sounds and smells of nature, and the calm conversations that the environment engenders. 

Similar to what Thoreau and Monet experienced.

My point is, when seeking your own personal refuge, don’t think it need be a faraway, exotic, awe-inspiring place. Your backyard might suffice, or a local park. 

Thoreau wrote in Walden, “It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar.”  Connect with nature close by.

[Here’s an interesting article titled The Therapeutic Power of Gardening.]


12 Replies to “Find your own nature preserve”

  1. As a child, instinctively, I developed a deep appreciation for solitude in the outdoors, climbing a tree or riding my bicycle to the Library or a gentle river — or in a quiet indoor spot (a bedroom of my own, since my sisters were younger and always shared). As an adult, I put up a portable screen to create a personal space in our front room. My desk is before a picture window where I watch hummingbirds and finches or the neighbors walking, jogging, or bike riding on our street. I walk early, praying and listening to mockingbirds, before most people are out. The referenced article is good, and the book looks interesting, too. Children who are led to enjoy nature and solitude will have joy and confidence as adults, I believe.

    1. Sharon, thanks for sharing highlights from your lifestyle; I admire the peace and contentment you derive from nature. You seem to be a well-centered person.

  2. Mother Theresa once told Kyle Rote that he did not need to travel to India to find ways to be of service as a missionary because these same opportunities existed within a mile of his home. He returned home and reconciled with a number of family members who were estranged for a variety of reasons, alcohol, drug addiction, etc. so, the message is that the opportunity to be of service is close at hand.

    1. David, thanks for the great anecdote. You’re right, most of what we need in life is probably within a mile of where we live.
      Mary and I just returned from a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. The residents are very poor (financially) but they live happy and satisfied lives because they focus on family and friends. Take care, Don

    1. Thanks, Mary. I hope my posts are beneficial. Mary and I just returned from a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. It made me think of our upcoming trip to Peru. I hope you are dong well.

  3. Don:

    I loved your article. My grandmother was a gardener, and when I stayed with her, I was her helper. Although I attempted to create gardens in each of our home places, our McKinney home is now my drawing board. We now have the basic plan in place, and until spring, I will enjoy the “garden’s power to distract, inspire, and console” (The Therapeutic Power of Gardening). Then the cycle of watching God’s handiwork begins again.

    Thanks for sharing…

  4. I love God’s creation even in its fallen state.
    We walk at a nearby city park, take the walking trail and the bike trail at Lake Ray Roberts, and visit Hagerman Wildlife Preserve on Lake Texoma. (Lots of birding opportunities especially during Fall and Winter when the snow geese arrive.
    We have just returned from a long visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. Oh the grandure on display there points directly to our Awsome God!

    1. Thanks, Vicki, for taking the time to write.
      For years I considered myself a “city-guy” and spent little time in nature. But I’ve changed. Nature is therapeutic and cathartic. I’m glad you have multiple venues to visit. Take care.

  5. Don,
    I greatly appreciate your understanding of “life is all around you”. I am a flat-lander and get aw inspired by the mountains when I visit my son who lives in Missoula, Mt. I lived in Nebraska and was aw inspired by the beauty of the prairie and wide open spaces. But I find great peace and joy when I walk out into my yard and the beauty of all the trees and flowers that God has created that I might participate in knowing that all is His and the fullness thereof. Right here in my own back yard. It’s fall and the colors are spectacular.

    1. Thanks, Ed, for penning meaningful words. Montana, Nebraska…where ever we are, we can see beauty and find inspiration. Don

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