Sunday, February 12, 2017
My Own version of "Forest Bathing" at Tom's Creek Trail
It was a "much" warmer than normal day and after a satisfying church potluck I decided to stretch my legs a bit and get some exercise. Many of us have suffered through colds and the flu because of this crazy warm again, cold again weather. But today, even as rain threatened, I decided upon a walk in the woods.
John Muir said you should go to the forest for its "glad tidings," and today I wanted to do just that. There is a lot out there as you traverse a paved path, and I wondered what I would find off Tom's Creek Road. There is a handy little parking area close to the start of the trail, and a picket fence of sorts welcomes you. Walk just a short way and you'll come upon a sign that points out that Tom's Creek is so cold that if you get too close you'll feel a chill in the air -- which isn't all that easy, between the fencing and the various nonnative vines entangling the fence and blocking part of the view.
It was fairly quiet on the first part of my quest, around trees that had dropped off small limbs and walking past grape vines thrown about some small trees. There were a few Virginia pines that had dropped their cones, and I was reminded of the Japanese name for relaxing in the woods: Shinrin-Yoku, which translates into "forest bathing".
If we Americans saw more value in being in the woods, which Japanese studies have found lowers blood pressure and can even help the immature system, there would be less weight problems, less diabetes, less in the way of healthcare costs. It could be a greater industry than it is now. Maybe even Trump would endorse forest bathing and being the woods. Shinrin-yoku could be emphasized in schools, over standardized tests. Forest bathing and cover pursuits in the woods could really make a difference if someone would stop to look at it.