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Out In Nature

Publisher Tracy Patterson with her dog sitting in the desert resting up from a hike

Tracy Patterson

I couldn’t help but think about my relationship with nature when I read the article Green Therapy (see page 22) in this month’s issue. I find it amazing that we now have to have a branch of psychology telling us we need to be out in nature more. But then I grew up in a different time, and my parents were more inclined to be in the great outdoors, so I was able to cultivate my love for the environment at an early age.

I was pretty much outside more than inside throughout my younger years, and in all kinds of weather. I remember in the spring, I would wait rather impatiently for the last snow and ice to leave so I could abandon my shoes and run barefoot all summer—talk about grounding!

I spent years camping and hiking in the Rocky Mountains, every possible chance I could get, or riding my horse out on the trails. And it’s true what they say in the article, there is no better remedy for stress and anxiety. Once I was out on the trail, I couldn’t even remember what my problems were, never mind stress over them.

Living on our horse ranch was wonderful as well because we were in the middle of 160 acres in a clearing with forest all around, and a river ran through the north end of our property. It was our own private nature reserve, with moose, deer, elk, coyotes, foxes, and endless bird species (eagles, owls, blue birds and many others). There were also bears and mountain lions in our area, although we never actually saw one on our property. It was a fabulous place to walk our dogs, and the connection with nature was almost intense, as we lived in a little house right in the middle of it all. The wildlife just roamed around like we were part of the scene, because we were.

Moving to the ocean brought a whole new experience to my life, as this was my first time interacting at a “local” level with such a force of nature. It had a similar wild appeal of the rugged mountains, just in a different form. It was my “new” nature, as I walked on the beach, viewed the sea life, and wondered if there would be a bear around each corner as I hiked along heavily vegetated trails. And surprise, there was a bear from time to time, especially during the salmon run.

Now, living in beautiful Arizona, it’s yet another completely different environment, but the feeling is the same—that humble feeling of being in nature and with nature. One thing’s for sure, when I’m out on the trails, whether it’s the red rocks or the ponderosa pine forest, it’s still the number one way for me to get rid of any stress or anxiety and become centered again.