written by: Kelley V Phillips, Outreach Coordinator
If you missed Valentine’s Day or are looking for ideas to spread the love year-round, here are 11 reasons to develop your relationship with nature.
Ditch the diamonds for a sky full of stars
There’s a whole universe out there! Find an open field not too close to any city lights and see the dazzling night sky. Your birding binoculars can also be used to look at the Sea of Serenity on a full moon or Saturn’s golden color.
Date night can be a trail hike
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or new to stepping off the sidewalks, there are trails for all experience levels in east central Indiana. Winding paths on Red-tail Land Conservancy’s nature preserves will lead you past massive old-growth trees, mystical wetlands, colorful prairies, and glistening creeks. Many trails are wide enough to walk hand-in-hand.
Formal clothes are supposed to be comfy
It is rare to see tuxedos and gowns in the great outdoors. Your favorite moments can happen in sturdy shoes, thick socks and breathable fabrics designed to be worn day and night.
You don’t need millions to have a million-dollar view
Indiana is full of glacially carved bluffs. All you need is a picnic blanket and some elevation to savor a brilliant sunrise or enchanting sunset. Because the sun rises and sets every day, this is one activity that you can repeat endlessly and not break the bank.
Prairies have more flowers than a bouquet
In the spring, Indiana has hundreds of species of flowers for you to share with your partner. Red-tail’s annual Wildflower Celebration in May is a perfect time to see blankets of red trillium blossoms and delicate indigo bluebells on the forest floor. Remember that wildflowers are vital to ecosystem health, leave a nature-made bouquet in the ground.
Campfires are nature’s TV
While it is pleasant to stay home and binge watch your favorite shows, the dramatic shadows and flickering light of a campfire is mesmerizing. With the crickets and owls providing background music, there’s no better way than a campfire to rekindle the flame.
Fancy dinners can come from a can
Outdoor cooking is an untapped hobby for many home chefs. On brisk evenings, a warm can of chili over dutch-oven cornbread is sublime. If you want to take it to the next level, there are edible plants in every region of Indiana. But if you’re not an expert on the universal edibility test, it may be a good idea to stick with a cookbook.
It’s not weird to bring your furbaby
Pets can be amazing conversation starters and let you know if your date is a good enough human to pick up any droppings. Before you and your furry sidekick hit the trails, check park or nature preserve regulations and follow best practices for pets outdoors.
Sleeping bags are for snuggling
There are opportunities to camp everywhere–even in your backyard. After a busy day together skiing, skating or snowshoeing, the spongy sides of an insulated cocoon make a perfect evening.
Less time looking at a screen, more time looking into each other’s eyes
We are constantly tempted to digitally fidget and get lost scrolling through life. In the quiet spaces found in nature your signal will go silent, opening your eyes to simple pleasures like the soft beauty of snowfall.
There are free parks and other natural areas near you; Red-tail’s ten public nature preserves span 6 counties in east central Indiana. Benefits of enjoying someone’s company outdoors doesn’t require admission or need a turnstile. Better yet, because nature is subject to constant change, each time you venture out is a different experience.
If all that fails, there’s always hugging a tree.
Kelley V Phillips is the Outreach Coordinator for Red-tail Land Conservancy. Her work in community engagement inspires excitement and wonder in nature through education and tangible experiences.