A Forest Cure

On Sunday, after Red and I had been at home for almost a week with me being very under the weather, Paul decided it was time for a tree cure. He came into town and kidnapped us and took us back up to his forest hideout for several hours of recuperation among the rocks and trees. We lit the fire to cook lunch, soup for me and sausage sandwiches for them. Often when I'm up at Paul's in the winter we are zooming about collecting wood but on Sunday afternoon we took time just to be among the trees. While I wandered through the forest and sat on a rock in the sun Paul and Red collected moss and baby tea trees and made moss kokadamas. They are good at making things. I am good at sitting in the sun.

I find it immensely comforting and calming to be in among trees. To sit, to listen, to feel the sun, trace a finger over a lichened rock, a patch of moss.

The land has stories to tell us which we can only hear when we sit in silence and learn to listen. The birds will tell some of the story, the wind in the leaves will whisper another tale. Insects march and meander and buzz in the sunshine.

The heartbeat slows, tension flows out through the soles of our feet and is soaked up by the earth. We have come back to the place where we belong, to the lap of the Mother of us all.

There's no need for endless acres of wilderness for a forest cure. Some trees, some tangled wildness, a place to sit is all that is needed. If it is a little place of refuge for the birds and wild plants it will be for us as well.

A few hours with my feet on the earth, some crisp winter air in my lungs, a fire, some birdsong. Red and I came home rejuvenated, refreshed and ready for a long winter's nap. And lucky me, I've been back for another dose of trees today.

It is so easy to forget that the earth, the sky, the trees - these are our true home. We shut ourselves up in our houses, especially during the winter, but we forget that our bodies need to be connected to the land. Trees - for calm, for energy, for health, for happiness. Where do you get your dose?


sustainablemum said…
Wonderful post! I felt I was in amongst those trees with you, it sounds like the perfect way to relax and reconnect. I hope the effects linger.
Treaders said…
There are some absolutely stunning trees around aren't there! And even now, at over 60, when I look at them I wish I could climb them (probably break my neck though)! Glad you're starting to feel a little better.
simplelife said…
Have you been listening to the radio national life matters podcast? For the last 9 days they have had a short podcast called brain on nature, today is the final episode. This post reminded me of the woman's story.
Cheers Kate
Anonymous said…
Sounds just wonderful, Jo. We have some lovely spots nearby and I really should visit them now that snake season is over. I have a bench in the vegetables garden (yes, right in it!) and I love to just sit there in the sun and look at the cabbages and all the beautiful shades of green. It's very soothing.

Some time back I read about psychologists prescribing sitting under a tree for one hour a day for patients with depression, with great results. Aren't we funny humans to forget something so basic as our need for time in nature!

Anonymous said…
Beautiful, Jo.

A few years ago I had fairly major surgery, and a week later I had my first walk in the redwood forest near here. I had to fight to be on my own (I sent my husband off on his bike in another part of the forest, as I thought he needed a break from guard duty!), but I really needed the time and space to breathe properly again after all the stress and anxiety of the previous couple of weeks. The walk was wonderful. There was a golden carpet of soft redwood litter, there were tree ferns with fronds unfolding, moss-covered ponga stumps, occasional birdsong, and nobody else in sight. I needed a few rest stops, but there were fallen logs to sit on, and I had plenty of time. It is still my place to go to when I need to recharge and reassemble myself.

Paul's piece of mountainside is lovely. The Australian bush is so different from ours, but I love it too. The smell of eucalypt forest is something special.

Linda in NZ
Jo said…
Sustainable Mum, the good thing is I can keep going back for extra doses:)

Anna, I love climbing trees, even now:) Unfortunately most eucalyptus trees have enormously high, straight, smooth trunks which doesn't make them good climbing trees. But I do agree that the only thing better than sitting under a tree is sitting in one. Hope you have managed to get out into the countryside as you were hoping to. Do your virus-rules allow that yet?

Kate, no I have not yet really got into listening to podcasts, but I know I am not the only person to discover the joys of sitting under a tree, and glad to be in the company of anyone who does:)

Madeleine, I love to sit on my back verandah in the sun and admire the parsnips! and yes, it does seem extreme to have to be told to go outside by a medical professional. When I was a child we lived next door to our doctor for a while, and whenever we were ill she ordered us outside into the sunshine.

Linda, what a beautiful story. There are huge stresses on the body and mind during surgery. Getting home makes things so much better, but I love that you made getting out into the forest your next vital step. What a healing walk that must have been. I love that you called it reassembling yourself. That is somehow exactly how it feels.
And yes, the smell of the Australian bush goes deep:)
Anonymous said…
What a wonderful post! Glad you are feeling better! My husband and I spent a day walking in Muir Woods National Forest outside of San Francisco during our honey moon.It was perfect. Still remember the peace felt. I have a deep connection to trees...just something about them.
Be well.
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Sorry to hear that you are not feeling well.

As a helpful suggestion which you can feel free to ignore, living up on the side of a mountain I have to go up and down in elevation quite a bit (700m here to Sea Level in Melbourne). If I am stressed for prolonged periods of time (a state of being I avoid like the plague), then my blood pressure is raised. However, if that combination of factors is in play, and for any reason I become dehydrated, then my ears can end up hurting exactly as you describe. The cure, well re-hydrate yourself with plenty of fresh water (and I don't mean coffee, tea, etc. - water and usually I have to knock back at least 600ml in a short period of time) and then I find the ear bubble pressure is eased and things go back to normal. Sometimes the pressure bubble pops with relief. Dunno. Hope you are feeling better now. Eat more greens, dunno why I said that, but people don’t eat enough greens! :-)

As to the forest story, good stuff! Especially in these crazy days. Nature is a soothing balm don’t you reckon? Spare a thought for the good people of Melbourne.

Have put in the seed orders for summer plants yesterday, and hopefully will construct a greenhouse over the next few weeks. Last summer was a disaster zone as the growing conditions were as bad as I can recall (short growing season and crazy hot). Need a greenhouse for seed raising…


Jo said…
Chris, it is so interesting to really note what goes on inside the body, and what a role stress plays. You have clearly worked out a pattern that actually has many layers to it (stress, altitude, dehydration). That takes a lot of patient observation. Stress seems to hit different people in different places. I am wondering whether there is a link between inflammation and stress, and the inflammation hits right at the body's weakest point. One of my daughters gets dreadful eczema when she is stressed, other people I know get terrible stomach aches, and often underlying conditions get exacerbated.
And maybe lowering inflammation levels could also be a part of the strategy for lowering stress?? The diet that Madeleine has been encouraging me to eat cuts out a lot of the inflammatory foods, and encourages the eating of many greens! I added a bunch of inflammatory foods (sugar, alcohol, tomatoes, meat) for a couple of days there and got all my dizzy symptoms back. It is an interesting path of experimentation and observation when you decide to take responsibility for looking after your own health (having said that, I do have a doctor's appointment to discuss all of this with. I like to take the middle path).
I will be interested to see your greenhouse. I wrote an article in the current Earth Garden about my mate's pallet-based and up-cycled polytunnel which Paul and I are going to replicate up at his place. We got a late, cool, wet summer here and the greenhouse would have been ideal for starting plants and growing capsicums!
gretchenjoanna said…
This, "tension flows out through the soles of our feet" I haven't noticed, maybe because I so rarely take the time "out there" to sit quietly. In the future I resolve to get in position and be receptive to the therapy!!
Jo said…
Gretchen Joanna, I mention this specifically because it is part of a very easy and calming bit of relaxation practice - it involves sitting in a chair in the garden (or on a nice warm rock in the bush) for at least five minutes which is absolutely my cup of tea. The idea is to sit quietly, hands on knees and envision each part of the body slowly relaxing from the top of the head down, and to see the tension draining from the body, from the upper to the lower body, out of the hands into the knees, then pouring like honey out from the soles of the feet into the earth. It is wonderfully calming and can be practised on garden chairs or park benches wherever you happen to find yourself:)

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