It’s autumn and change is in the air. The big changes are easy to notice. The sun is setting a little earlier each evening, leaving me less time after dinner to be outdoors. The lawn needs mowing more frequently, weeds are spreading everywhere and the days to do any painting, staining or caulking outside are disappearing. The lazy days of summer are over and, like the squirrels, I feel the urgency to prepare for colder weather.
Whether I am ready or not, winter will come and I will find myself saying, “what happened to fall?” So I am making an autumn resolution to take time each day to notice the changes. I will get outdoors each day and catalog the details I sense. I will focus my attention on what I see, smell, or feel. I will think about what I hear or don’t hear.
As I walk around outside this afternoon, I notice the walnut trees are beginning to turn yellow. The poison ivy vine growing up one of the trees has turned a beautiful scarlet red. I start to think “I must add cutting that vine down to the list” and then stop myself to refocus. It is pretty quiet; the red-winged blackbirds have moved on. I wonder where do they migrate to? I should look that up, refocus.
Wow, I never noticed how the wind blowing through the trees sounds like the ocean waves hitting the beach. Look at the turtles along the riverbank enjoying the sunshine, basking on the rocks. Only the leaves at the top of the maple tree have turned red, it won’t be long until they are in a full blaze of glory. The tall grasses have gone to seed and tickle me as I walk through them.
The meadow looks like a painter’s canvas, the purple asters and contrasting goldenrod are still providing for the bees and butterflies. A lone monarch is feeding at some late blooming zinnias, opening and closing its wings. Eat up, you have a long journey ahead. Apples and pears lie on the ground under the trees. The walnuts and acorns are beginning to drop. What a season of abundance for the wildlife.
The sun is temporarily hiding behind some cotton candy clouds. The breeze is making goosebumps on my arms. It feels good. I take a deep breath in and let it out slowly. I feel good.
Purposely focusing your attention on the present moment, without worries of the future or regrets of the past, is known as mindfulness. There is no better place to practice mindfulness than outdoors, experiencing nature. Mindfulness is good for the mind and body. It costs you nothing but your time.
You might lose yourself and find a practice that starts out as five minutes turns into 20. Or better yet, you might actually get lost. Prescription strength nature; take it as often this fall as needed. But caution, it can be habit forming. Side effects may include feeling less stressed and more content. If done often enough, you won’t find yourself in November wondering, “where did fall go?”