Now is such a nice time of year to get out into nature. The ground is just starting to wake up as the days get warmer. The sap has just about made it's way to the tops of the trees (maple syrup season is just about over) and the buds and flowers will be out soon.
What I like to do when I go out, is to walk, observe, and experience. I try not to name things...and it is very difficult for me. I try to listen to the birds, smell the earth, feel the cool air and warm sun, without a running commentary. That is a true challenge. In fact, it's exciting to get out there each time and see if I can do it. When it happens (in fleeting moments) it is so amazing and powerful.
Today we were walking and I was trying to just be without thinking. Then I saw a big mullein plant and I pointed and said, "mullein!" It made me think that by doing that, I don't experience the plant at all. Suddenly it's "mullein" and everything I ever learned about mullein: the fuzziness, the healing properties, etc. All I know about it someone told me, or I read in a book. I do personally work with mullein (with my own hands): drying the leaves for tea, collecting the flowers in oil, last year I even blended fresh leaves in water and strained it as a kind of juice (I did make that up, anyway!) But generally it's all what I learned from someone else.
This year I plan to experience nature, without words or labels. I'll practice walking meditation, but I also plan to take a sketch book with me sometimes, and just sit with a plant, or tree, or rock and really look at it. Sometimes when I sketch my mind is able to turn off, and I can just be with something.
For Pittsburghers impatient for the arrival of spring: check out the spring flower show at Phipps! The smells and sights of the brilliant flowers -- that is surely something for the sensory system! Next time I go there, I will try to walk through without my mental chatter as well.