While Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, a growing number of people have stopped celebrating.
The flowers, candy, and “I wuv you” teddy bears can get stale. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, there are some special ways to keep it fresh for your nature lover.
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 the 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 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.
Woodlands 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 comfy to stay home and binge-watch your favorite shows, the dramatic shadows and flickering light of a campfire are 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, stick with a cookbook.
It’s not weird to bring your fur baby
Pets can be fantastic conversation starters. And, bringing a pet on a hike will let you know if your date thinks they are too good to pick up dog poop (deal-breaker!). Before you and your furry sidekick hit the trails, check park or nature preserve regulations and follow best practices for pets outdoors.
Less time looking at a screen, more time looking into each other’s eyes
We are constantly tempted to fidget on our phones 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.
Sleeping bags are for snuggling
There are camping opportunities 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.
There are free parks and other natural areas near you. Red-tail’s ten public nature preserves span five counties in east central Indiana. The benefits of enjoying someone’s company outdoors don’t require admission or need a turnstile. Because nature is subject to constant change, each time you venture out is a different experience.
If all that fails and you are left hiking solo, you can always hug a tree.
Kelley V. Phillips is the Communications & Outreach Manager for Red-tail Land Conservancy. She strives to cultivate wonder in nature and action to protect it.