THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry
Nature is often overlooked as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child's [Heck, even in an adult's] life. You'll likely never see a slick commercial for nature therapy, as you do for the latest antidepressant pharmaceuticals.
~Richard Louv in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Louv may be too optimistic; someone probably is finding ways to profit from, and thus run slick commercials for, nature therapy. But his (and Berry's) main point -- that nature can serve as a real balm for emotional hardships -- is very important. And, as more and more kids grow up in urban areas, in families who don't belong to the class of people who can afford a trip to see the redwoods or wade along a deserted shore, or canoe down a river, it becomes increasingly important to help them find nature inside urban areas. Although large empty spaces are really wonderful, for many kids [and adults!] a rather small space will suffice. A community garden. A gated alley full of trees, and tomato plants, and pets. A park. A local Nature Center. A tree that becomes a special friend.
Can you identify three or five local sources of "nature therapy"?
Photo (of a park in North East Washington, D.C.) by the author. If you copy, please link back.