quietening the mind 

deep in the forest 

water drips 

~Hasho 

Many of our experiences with nature evoke a calm, relaxing state. Research has found that spending 30 minutes a week in nature reduces high blood pressure and depression (Christina Procopiou Medical Daily 6/24/16). Parents and teachers know that frustration levels decrease and discipline challenges lessen when children play in natural settings. 

Most of our time is spent inside- at home, at work, in a car. We are surrounded by human – made objects. These days, many of them are synthetic creating a disconnect from nature. Bringing nature inside can provide us with those little, yet very important, moments of calm and peacefulness. 

Creating a seasonal nature table is an easy and fun activity with soothing benefits. 

Collect your items: Gather wonderful natural objects in your yard, in a friend’s yard (& invite them to join you), or on a walk around your neighborhood. You may already have a nature collection you can borrow from. Look closely, you’ll be amazed at what you find. Especially if you include children in your search. Pine cones, stones of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Seed pods, leaves, flowers, bark, and a variety of sticks. Keep an open mind, let your sense of wonder guide you. Please note that nature sanctuaries and preserves, among others, do not allow the removal of nature items for conservation and preservation purposes. Please be respectful and stick to your personal habitats. Once you are done with your seasonal nature table you can return the items to where you found them. When gathering, take a moment to give thanks to the earth. 

Find a location: Choose a place you’ll see often. A space as large as a coffee table will do and even a windowsill above your kitchen sink will provide a beautiful setting. If you’re including children, be sure they can reach it. They will definitely play with it. 

Create: Now it’s time to play. Yes, play. Which is also therapeutic. Let the impressions from your nature items guide you. Adding a vase for flowers or branches (fallen branches only), a decorative cloth, table runner, or silk can often soften the table surface. If children will be included, adding small life-like animals, gnomes and fairies adds to the magic and wonder. If you are a crafter, now is a good time to make a nature-inspired piece and add it to your display. 

Bathing our senses in natural surroundings awakens them and reminds us of our wonder and reverence for the natural world. In a hurried digital world, a seasonal nature table is a small gift reminding us to slow down. The presence of these natural beauties often evokes a feeling of environmental responsibility.  

Enjoy the serenity your newly created nature table will provide and don’t forget to get outside. 

Lori Whipple

Youth Groups Coordinator