Thank you for visiting the home blog of Caliso Learning, a natural science-based business celebrating the beauty and ecology of our natural environments. Our goal is to connect you and your family with nature--actually, we want you to fall in LOVE with nature!

Here you will find nature-inspired articles and posts, family activities, personal stories, resources, and more--all with the goal to connect you with the benefits of nature for family fun and inspiration! Please enjoy and let us know what you like :) Follow us on Facebook for even more resources, more frequently!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


During a recent creativity workshop themed in nature (of course!), I asked participants to group up and create a folding poem. During this exercise, all lines are kept covered except the last one written. Each participant is privy to only the last line written to which they add their own line. In this case, a 3-person team created a poem (6 verses) after contemplating the prompt of "NIGHT SKY." It reads:

The night sky is endless, timeless, ever expanding,
Stars shine and twinkle, sending messages to earth....
And I hear their storeis and smile.

The stars shine as if to say, "I have a million stories to share of magnificant things I have seen."
And the moon smiles with pride that the stars have seen the light!
She celebrates with full, fat expression.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rockin' Family Time

As the holidays bring family and friends together, we celebrate cherished traditions and good times with those we love. If you’re looking for some fun ideas for the whole family, try some of these “rock solid” activities to engage all ages—and maybe start a new tradition!

While gathering around the tables at my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving we found our seats by stone place cards. I loved the idea—even more when we were each asked to write on the back of our special stones (Sharpies provided) what we were most thankful for!

A childhood favorite! Use smooth stones from around the yard or purchased from the garden center of your local home improvement store to give an earthy spin to the classic card game. On one side, write family members’ names (especially fun with very large family gatherings where little ones are meeting members new to them!), draw simple symbols or patterns, or a holiday-related word in pairs. Place stones, written word down, mix them up and start matching! Non-matches get turned back over, staying in play.

This has been a popular activity at our Earth Day booths; it can also be an inspiring treat for family and friends relaxing in your yard! Create a “rocku” (5-7-5 haiku about nature, the earth, family, gratitude, etc.) by combining smooth stones with one-word prompts you’ve written into lines of poetry dedicated to celebrating nature or your family…

Many of us find ourselves making New Year’s resolutions, why not make it a keepsake rock to inspire you to hold on to your personal promise? Find a stone that fits you, fits well in your hand, one that calls to you. In one or two words, write your New Year’s promise to yourself, your mantra—now it is written in stone. Keep it with you as inspiration to fulfill your promise.

Collect rocks from around the yard and build mini-forts, make rock stacks (how tall can you make yours?), create designs (flowers, spirals, geometrics, or?) or words with the rocks you’ve collected. Arranged by size, color, shape, the ideas are endless! Great for the kids in the family, have them create and invite you to their outdoor gallery pre- or post-dinner!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Butterfly Effect

...a phrase that suggests the tiniest movement (a butterfly flapping its wings for example) creates a ripple effect of larger and larger variations or actions, forever changing the "behavior" or direction of a dynamic system. This is a distinct reminder to remain intuitive of every decision you make, every action you take--no matter how small--for it will create an impact in your life, possibly changing its course forever.

This can be quite exciting, and it is important to respond to challenges and share your gifts positively in an effort to create the life that brings about your greater good, your true nature. If something is occurring that you do not like, you can set about to change its affect on your life by initiating just one small action.

I love the metaphor of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. For the new butterfly, this is a difficult process that requires struggle (and rest) so it may successfully transform into a beautiful being that is able to take flight! How appropriate for us to remember to somehow appreciate our struggles. Emerge from your comfort zone (your cocoon), take action on something that has been challenging you so you may take flight and create the ripple effect in setting your true calling in motion!

I watched a butterfly today & admired its spirited, bouncy, magnificent effort in flight! I followed it’s path, my flight guided by instinct, my true nature.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Teachings From the Scorpion

Connect with nature, restore yours. What we learn from nature, gives us insight to our selves. When we feel a connection with something, we begin to appreciate its value and its right to share our world, and we wish to protect its future as our own.

The scorpion is often misunderstood and feared. But once we learn to appreciate its value and its rightful place in our world, we feel connected and can learn much about ourselves. Like the scorpion, you are key to your environment. Everyone and everything you share your “habitat” with will have an impact on you. These daily interactions shape your inner nature—the core from which you pull from each time you take action in your life. Who or what are you allowing into your environment and how are they shaping or influencing you?


1. Scorpions rely first on their strength for nourishment, not their venom.

Respond with your inner strength for facing challenges, do not sting with your words.

2. Throughout human history scorpions have had their share of both negative and positive “press.”

Consider this when dealing with an undesirable situation. Become aware of all perspectives—don’t let your history keep you from finding a reasonable explanation and outcome that can benefit the entire situation.

3. Scorpions molt throughout their lives as they grow. Newly molted scorpions must keep stretching while the new exoskeleton hardens to ensure that it can move when the hardening is complete.

Shed old skins as you grow, create opportunities for transformation,and stretch your boundaries! Allow yourself room to grow as you fulfill your calling.

4. Burrows are a very important aspect of the ecology of desert scorpions, offering shelter and protection while molting and from predators.

How often do you allow yourself time for a little “burrowing?” What can you do to ensure those quality, restorative moments vital for maintainining your energy and focus?

5. Scorpions tend to change their habits rather than their form in order to adapt to a new habitat.

This is a great reminder to stay flexible while pursuing your goals, rarely do things go as planned. Adapt and be ready to navigate new territory!

Excerpt from: “Teachings From the Scorpion” M. Hedgecock, 2009
Scorpion photo: M. Hedgecock

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Get Grounded...

You may already know that many standing meditations and relaxation techniques encourage the process of standing with bare feet on the ground, establishing an energy flow by rooting yourself to the earth through your toes, pads, your instep, and your heels. This is a wonderful way to ground yourself, however, I’m also encouraging you to slip off your sandals, or your shoes and socks, and take a walk on the beach. Or, feel the spongy, dewy coolness of a morning lawn, or the sand slipping between your toes in your child’s sand box! How about squishing around in some natural clay or mud at your favorite hiking hide-out or earth spa. Feel free to get your hands into the mix too.

Touch is often one of the quickest ways to feel grounded, whether you are seeking support, or a place to find rest. Grounding yourself with earthy components in the literal sense is a fun way to engage your senses and release your inhibitions beyond the norm of your daily habits. When you’re grounded, your core finds its center and balance. You find reprieve from the negative chatter so easy to get caught up in, and the answers you seek begin to flow.

So...however you do it, connect yourself to the earth in some manner--make physical contact with a natural, earthy textures and fragrances by walking or standing(barefoot ideal!), sitting, and/or laying down. Then simply close your eyes and let mother earth hold you…

Friday, September 18, 2009

Worldwide Day of Play: Sept. 26, 2009

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." ~Rachel Carson

Why not let your inner child come out and nature play? Take your child(ren) outside, or to a nature-themed event and explore with them, lose yourself in their wonder, let them be the "leaders," your personal nature guide! Where will they take you? What will they choose to point out to you?

* * *

Right on, Nickelodeon! Nickelodeon celebrating upcoming Worldwide Day of Play (Sept. 26, 2009) by turning off all programming and going dark for 3 hrs to get kids outside! Wow, that's a tremendous show of support for the value of outdoor play! Kudos to Nick-execs for going for it :) YAY! www.nick.com (a mid-morning or mid-afternoon time slot would really prove their intentions!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

9 Articles and Resources on the Benefits of Nature

The benefits of nature are easy to appreciate once you step into an environment that draws you. For many of us, this is instinctual as we seek to "escape" to the ocean or beach, or to a mountain hide-away. You might desire to get back to nature in the most basic, test-your-limits kind of way with a little backcountry camping or backpacking. Or you might just need to take in the peaceful surroundings of an inspiring natural landscape outside your vacation cottage while you sit in a cozy nook and read a good book! I feel the most relaxing and creative boost when I'm by the water, particularly vast expanses like the ocean.

Check out any of the articles below about the benefits of nature on your mind, body, and spirit. Share your own experiences of ways nature affects you.

The Cognitive Benefits of Nature: The Frontal Cortex

AUDIO The Takeaway: The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature (Walking makes you smart)

The Benefits of Nature and Camping

Nature: Science Shows It’s Good for the Mind as Well as the Body (AARP Bulletin Today)

Restorative Benefits of Nature…Gardening to Achieve Better Health
The Benefits of Nature and Outdoors

The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature

http://dericbownds.net/uploaded_images/Berman_cog.pdf (Research/Report)

These two articles emphasize the benefits of nature for our children:
A Walk in the Park Can Improve Reading Comprehension

The Many Benefits Of Walking In Mother Nature


We would love to hear you own experiences of how nature restores you!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Daily Rhythms: How These Cycles May Affect Our Goals

In the study of wildlife ecology, living at night can be seen as a form of “niche differentiation.” This is where a species' niche is divided into specific time periods (daily or seasonal) that best contribute to its survival in response to surrounding resources, competitors, or threats. Temporal niches take advantage of an animal’s enhanced senses (sight, hearing, smell) that dictates activity to ensure their survival.

Humans are not exempt from this concept. During a typical 24-hour cycle, does the time of day have any affect on how we utilize our resources, or respond to the demands that threaten our time and energy? My husband is most alert in the very early morning, a time when he is primed for reading and meditation. I am most alert, and get my most creative boost very late at night. We both are least energetic during late afternoon. Examine your daily rhythms. When do you feel most creative? When do you have the most energy? Where in the daily cycle do you feel you are winding down? What part of the day do you feel the least productive?

It is good to be aware of how we coexist within our daily environment, and note what times we function best to maximize our resources for completing projects. It could also help family dynamics or our relationships at work (group populations!), by learning to build a balanced coexistence; recognizing where our needs fit individual niches, yet complement the overall potential of the group.

Once we acknowledge segments of our time where we feel most energetic—or our mind is primed for growth, productivity, or creativity for example—we can better manage our time and help avoid self-sabotage of our goals.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Critter Café

For a great family project, why not create a backyard habitat you can be proud of while protecting native wildlife from habitat fragmentation/loss? Invite some of those native species that need your help with a creature feast! By planting plants that provide cover for smaller species, as well as food and nesting sites or nesting material for birds and drinkable water for other animals, you can set the scene for watchable wildlife and encourage natural predator/prey cycles--where both sides can benefit.

Here in the desert, native landscaping helps maintain precious water reserves. Native birds, reptiles, and small mammals also help to keep unwanted pests and other vectors out of your yard by preying on them. Birds, and especially bats, will consume thousands of unwanted insects. Even a roadrunner will pluck a juicy black widow from her web for a snack. If you live in an area that sees snakes regularly, welcome the sight of a kingsnake or roadrunner as they will prey on rattlesnakes as well as rodents.

Please note:
Provide food for native species responsibly. Offer their natural diet and other needs through your landscaping. Please do not feed roadrunners cat food, or other meats regularly eaten by humans, it is very harmful to their young. Leaving human or domestic animal food out will only attract those pests you do not want around your home! Besides, if you fill the bellies of these well-meaning natives, they won’t have room to feast on the natural pests you’d rather not have around!

Keep us posted on your experiences--we'd love to hear :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Adventure & Bonding With Your Toddler!

Nature activities for you and your tiny explorer. Bring your family together, foster growth and curiosity in your child, and feel the benefits and peaceful pace of the natural world. Try some of the following activities we’ve compiled from our favorites! All can be done with ages 18 months and up. All you need is a little sense of pint-sized adventure :)

Bug Eyes: Get on your bellies and study the terrain from a bug’s eye view! Pick one small area of the yard to explore with a hand lens. Look for bugs under rocks and watch them with a hand lens.

Rocky Puppy: Rock collecting starts early with curious minds. Begin with just collecting in your yard. Move on to arranging rocks by size or color; stack them, make patterns, lines—or better yet, just let your little rock hound arrange those new finds as he pleases. Just remind him that rocks do not like to fly.

Story Time al Fresco: There’s nothing like a simple change of scenery to excite the senses. Try story time under the stars for a new twist on old favorites! You could even follow up with sleeping outdoors!
From T. Albrecht, SRSJMNM

“Pooh Sticks:” An old favorite, inspired of course by Winnie the Pooh. Gather sticks and drop them in a stream, watch them float away! Even better if you can do it from a small bridge, watching for them to emerge on the other side! My 3-year old son would do this for hours if we let him.

Species Safari: Create your own tiny explorer field guide (keep it simple!) or
use ours. Take your child on a walk around the neighborhood or a nearby nature area and mark off each critter she can find!

Teddy Bear Tracking: Draw or print out a set of 12 paw prints (~3”- 4”); cut out and hang at child level, around your yard or campsite for your toddler to “track” to a teddy bear you’ve place sitting in a low tree, sturdy bush or other semi-hidden spot for him to find. Delightful fun!

The Secret Garden: Choose a part of your yard, under a special bush, at the base of a favorite tree, even a large planter where your toddler can create their own unique garden to plant collected rocks, sticks, plastic dinosaurs…anything she wishes that makes it uniquely hers!

Nature Bracelet: Wrap a piece of masking tape to your child’s wrist, sticky side up. As you explore, help him attach colorful leaves, flowers, and other interesting discoveries to his bracelet. When done, use scissors to snip off the nature bracelet. Display on a bulletin board, shelf, or wall.
From fun.familyeducation.com

Follow the Leader: Start out as the leader and buzz a flower, hop around a tree, step over a rock, flap over to the hose, etc. Then switch to let your little one lead!

Backyard Harvest: If you have any trees with edible fruit, let your little one help you harvest your fresh crop, then share the organic snack! Create a bouquet of garden flowers with your toddler for tonight’s center piece (just make sure to watch for poisonous plants or defenses like thorns, spines or burrs).
From family.go.com

Moon Face: Take your child on a moonlight walk in your backyard during the full moon.

Treasure Bucket: Perfect for toddlers who like to collect things…and dump them out only to refill it again! Use a small toy bucket or container they can manage. Collect leaves, rocks, small trash flown in after a windy day, or specially hidden toys!

If collecting natural items from your yard, it’s a good opportunity to teach the non-removal of things from protected areas. Have them dump their bucket outside, leaving their natural items where “they live.” If picking up trash, have them wear gloves, make sure what they’re picking up is “safe” and have them empty their buckets in the trash can to teach good environmental habits.

Activities from Caliso Learning’s Yards of Fun compilation booklet.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Moon Meditation: Living Your Life To Its Fullest

“Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” ~the Buddha

Today is a full moon. The moon is a great mentor in living your life to its fullest. Find a comfortable spot in the moonlight tonight and try one of these moon meditations:

Live full. The full moon creates a lot of action; humans celebrate it, animals and oceans move by it. When the moon is full and bright, we can see things outside without the aid of artificial light. Live your life fully, illuminate your own path, celebrate your strengths.

Radiate light. Despite being the weakest reflector in our solar system, the moon shines brightly against the black backdrop of space. Reflect positive qualities in your interaction with others.

Infuse yourself with nature. The moon is intimately aligned with the natural world as we have witnessed through the pull of lunar tides and the variety of species that rely on its light for survival. Plant yourself in the cycles of nature to appreciate your vital role in the world we share, increase your personal awareness, and heighten your sensitivity to your attitudes and behavior as it compares to your core standards and beliefs. This type of connection may intuitively affect the conscientious mind and accountability that guide your decision making process.

Inspire others. Our silvery moon has long been the source of inspiration for artists, philosophers, and poets. Both science and art continue to seek ways to study and interpret its profound affect on our lives. Think about the people in your life, and how they inspire you; awaken those same inspiring qualities in your self. Find ways to express yourself as passionately as those who inspire you and others will not be able to resist supporting you in achieving your goals.

© 2009
www.karunacoaching.com Your Nature ezine 760.832.0105

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Quesadillas and Moon Topography--Family Activity

Moon IS made of cheese—quesadillas and moon topography? Try this activity for the next full moon!

Flour tortillas provide a fun (and tasty!) way to identify and name the features of the moon’s surface. Use this printable moon map
http://www.space.com/spacewatch/moon_guide-1.html to try and identify famous moon surface features, or map out our historical lunar landing sites on your tortilla. Another option: use the map to inspire your own creative names for your tortilla moon topography :)

In our version, the moon really is made of cheese. Cook the tortilla, fold over with shredded cheese inside, and melt for the perfect post-snack lunar lesson!

The Nature Conservancy in California - Coachella Valley

Nice article about a local treasure, The Coachella Valley Preserve, found in this week’s California Great Places by The Nature Conservancy—covers the historical beginnings and unique partnerships for its successful management model, “The Coachella solution pioneered an approach that quickly became a hallmark of the Conservancy and now is in use throughout the country.”

The Nature Conservancy in California - Coachella Valley

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Instinctive Listening

If you’ve ever watched deer feeding, you may have noticed how they seem to ignore the common sounds of the their environment, but as soon as their ears pick up even the faintest sound that “doesn’t belong,” they immediately raise their heads and listen, motionless as if determining if this new sound is going to be a threat or not. Using their other senses, they intuitively assess a situation, allowing instinct to guide their next action.

Try this! Go to a nearby natural area and find a comfortable place to sit, on a rock, picnic table, the ground. Close your eyes and practice listening with “deer ears.” Pay close attention to the sounds you here, determining their location and whether or not they belong or do not belong in this setting. How do they affect you? How does this exercise relate to your daily life?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Starry Nights

I may be biased, but I think the desert has the best view of the night sky. I’ll never forget the first time I felt the sheer vastness of the night sky while camping along the U.S./Mexico border, in the Sonoran desert. I had just finished my dinner and decided to lay back and count satellites while star gazing. I remember the sky nearly took my breath away as I looked out across the infinity of a flat, black desert and up to a sky splattered with more stars than open space, and I truly appreciated the words “blanket of stars,” because that is exactly what it felt like—as if the stars were wrapped around me like a heavy blanket. I felt very small. And it was exhilarating!

Why not take an evening to learn about the stars, and their constellations, even galaxies you can see. Call your local astronomy club (or start your own!) and go to their next star party. Typically they meet during, or close to, the New Moon for better viewing.

Want something really out there? Check out this week's Nature Time (side bar) for some far out music from the stars...yes, really! Go directly to the article here.

If you’re feeling a little more reflective, practice some meditative star gazing. Lose yourself in the night sky, wrap yourself in a blanket of stars and reflect on the answers you are seeking.

Eco-Camping and the Great American Backyard Campout!

It’s that time of year, June 27th is the next NWF’s Great American Backyard Campout! It doesn’t have to be on the 27th, but try a new spin on a night out with your family. Pull out the tent and sleeping bags and spend the night in your yard. See nature in a whole new night light. Discover what happens while your family is usually sleeping inside…

Find out more here.

Find out more about Eco-Camping, get easy tips for responsible, green camping from Earth 911 here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Nature Happens

My mom and I enjoyed a serendipitous moment with my son the other day. We were at the local children’s museum, outside on the patio—with a nice little breeze. I picked up some Bougainvillea leaves that were on the ground and held them up to my fuchsia-colored shirt which matched the color of the Bougainvillea bracts almost perfectly.

My toddler-aged son saw me do this and instantly spied the rest of the Bougainvillea on the patio. After an excited,“I get moohr foh you, mommy!” he was off grabbing for all the papery, pink bunches floating along the ground that he could catch. He was having fun, carrying on a giggly exclamation each time one spirited away, just out of reach.

The breeze started to pick up and the dry bracts he was collecting into his clenched little hands were beginning to break apart and float around him. I got such a kick out of watching him squeal with pure excitement each time he tried to catch some of the crushed pieces mid-air. Every time he reached for one, more would escape. It was a great game.

Just a few minutes later, the breeze faded—ah, its prize surrendered! My son gathered all of the bright pink pieces and gifted the crumbling bunch to me. Honestly, I’m not sure which one of us had the bigger smile :)

It's fun when little things like that happen. I very much enjoy these unplanned treasures, especially through the eyes of my son. The whole scene couldn't have lasted more than five minutes, but anytime the opportunity for us to connect with nature presents itself, it is such a joy for the both of us, likely for different reasons I’m sure…but possibly not. I certainly feel a deeper connection to nature through my son at these moments; I feel closer to him, and I'm open to the spirit of the gift and simplicity of the experience. Nature just happens.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sticks and Stones

The first time I experienced British land artist/sculpture/photographer Andy Goldsworthy’s work was when a traveling exhibit came to the museum I was working. I was completely blown away and inspired by his resourceful, artistic interpretation and celebration of the natural world. At the time, I hadn’t seen anything like it!

I am unaware of the beginnings of the current land art movement, whether it was directly inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, or if this wonderful expression was long ago established and is now getting a little more recognition and participants. Either way, I’ve become a huge fan of land artists. Their patience, concepts, the use of only natural material on site, and the resulting work is simply inspiring. And the fact that much of it is ephemeral makes it so magical. There are many genuinely talented land artists out there, and one of my favorites is Richard Shilling (aka “e s c h e r” on Flickr, become a fan of his works and his blog here).

Since I was child I’ve enjoyed creating around with natural patterns and materials…arranging rocks into makeshift mini-caves, arches (hardly successful), spirals, making sand pile lines, stick pyramids, pinecones embellished with fresh pine needles, pine needle baskets, leaf kabobs--even a miniature of a complete "18th century dwelling" my mom and I made one day, complete with stick chairs, broom, and rustic family dining table with benches, and acorn bowls filled with seed, bread, plates, goblets and such--all made with natural items. We did “cheat” a little—we used glue guns to keep it all together. But we surprised ourselves at how well it all came about! It was a fantastically fun afternoon of gathering and creating these treasures outdoors, under a canopy of pines, with my mom!

So it is this memory, in homage to your inner land artist, which inspired this week’s Nature Time exercise. Go outside, gather natural materials of any sort, have something in mind or even better, gather with a blank slate--your materials will inspire you! Keep in mind, most all land artists create on site, this creates a great exercise.

My mom and I had no idea what we were going to create, we just wanted to spend the time together and make something. The point is, it’s a moment I cherish i look forward to future afternoons like it; and I encourage you to simply open up and let flow, your mind will thank you for this wonderful outlet (creative bone not required)! Whether you decide to do this alone, or as a family, the connection you will share will be fun, maybe even silly, but definitely special :) I think your soul will thank you for it too.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gardening Past and Present, Dig It!

Poster, "Improve Your Neighborhood, Plant A Garden"! Found at Northern Sun catalogue (bottom, right of this page)

“The benefits of gardening are not all in the body; they're also in the mind. Tending your garden is a real stress buster, helping relieve feelings of anxiety and providing a break from the general rush of life. Because the work involved is mainly physical, gardeners have a chance to think about their concerns, meditate, or just spend a few hours daydreaming. They can also feel a sense of accomplishment in a job well done.” The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation

Inspired by my aunt’s success with her desert vegetable garden, I have been considering starting a small one with my young son. I know we would both enjoy tending to it together and the thoughts of eating safe, fresh produce is a benefit that can’t be matched! One of my life-long friends has a little space in the backyard just for her 3-year old’s sunflower patch, which he enjoys so much--I can't wait until he discovers the yummy seeds!

I agree that in any of these settings, the sense of accomplishment, and the physical and mental advantages of tending to a garden (planting, weeding, and harvesting) contribute to a healthy mind and body. When I do some hand-weeding around the tortoise yards, remove and replant succulents, or just work to enhance the landscape in any way, I get into a kind of mental groove, and I find I feel energized from the inside, even if I’m physically worked. The energy last for the rest of the day.

Gardening in any capacity seems a great way to dig deep, cultivate growth, and nourish your body as well as your mind!

Back to the Future: Clay Pot Irrigation

I saw this fantastic recommendation from fellow CREYE (Coachella Valley Environmental Youth Experience) group member, Vernonique R. regarding clay pot irrigation—a resourceful and highly efficient way to maintain your garden. Coming from a region where water is a precious resource, this ancient concept is inspired, entirely practical, and a completely responsible way to establish or enhance your own garden lush with organic goodness!

This might be the way to go with my young son, a little experimental container gardening (baby steps)! I know he would love checking and adding water to the pot and picking and eating the fruits of his labor. [Click here] for David Bainbridge’s article (shared by Veronique) to learn more about the ease and incredible efficiency of clay pot irrigation, including its interesting historical significance.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This Is Your Brain On Nature

There are plenty of reports and articles that document the restorative power of nature on our mind, body, and soul. For example, in his article The Cognitive Benefits of Nature, Jonah Lehrer comments on a paper in Psychological Science where, compared to city living, “interacting with nature dramatically improves cognitive function.” He goes on to say that, “A walk in the woods is like a vacation for the prefrontal cortex…strolling in a city, however, forces the brain to constantly remain vigilant,” the end result having a less restorative effect.

When you allow the mind to have that “mental pause,” you can calm the flurry of thoughts that accompany most of us on a typical day. In turn, your mind is clear enough to manage daily situations much more efficiently.

Imagine you are sitting on a rock overlooking a clear pond. You’re taken in by how you can see clearly to the bottom and even to the other side. You’re watching fish and tadpoles, and, plop! In go your keys. No worries though, you can see right where they landed and you can probably get to them with only getting one foot wet.

In the meantime, your keys spooked a toad and he jumps into the water and stirs up a little silt as you try not to lose sight of where your keys landed. But you jumped too, startled by the frog, and down goes your other foot—and a massive cloud of pond silt swallows up your keys. You’re trying to stay focused on where they should be, but it’s hard to gauge exactly…and grasping around for them just keeps stirring up more silt. Inevitably you are forced to stop stirring up the silt, have a seat, and wait for the pond to settle once again so you can see clearly enough find your keys. This is our brain on pond time. Take a moment, see clearly, solve problem.

It’s not impossible to find your keys through the silt, but when you’re bombarded with distractions-stimulus-information (like frogs, losing your footing, and grasping), it stirs up your mind’s process for clear thinking, and decreases our ability for more careful problem solving.

So treat yourself to a little nature during your next lunch break--if you don’t already. If you already do…try extending your nature time per day by 30 minutes and notice how your mind, body, and soul respond.

Watch your keys and let us know!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who's environment is it anyway?

I just received my "Daily Coyote" fix and wanted to share the feel good moment with you. Author Shreve Stockton wrote this wonderful book about her truly unique relationship with an orphaned coyote pup, named Charlie.

No matter what beliefs you may hold before getting to know her and Charlie through her story, I think you'll find it a thoughtful, intelligent read. I was a conflicted by Charlie's destiny, but I absolutely fell in love with him (not hard for me as I am a true fan of coyotes). And I believe in Shreve Stockton's sincere concern and love for Charlie's ultimate path where she also questioned her role.

This coyote just may have been fated to be an ambassador of awareness about humans and our environments. We have a direct impact on the land we share with other species, and it is entirely our responsibility (our destiny so to speak!) to care for them in any way we can.

I encourage you to visit the Daily Coyote blog http://www.dailycoyote.net/, where you can learn more and receive daily or weekly photos of "Charlie."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Animal Web Cams!

On the days you can't get outdoors, why not bring nature to your desktop? Web cams that monitor natural habitats provide a valuable research tool for wildlife biologists and other scientists. They are also a great way for the rest of us to glimpse animal behavior, undisturbed, in their natural habitat--sometimes witnessing behavior never before seen! Click on the links below to see some interesting online cams...

Recycled plastic bags....of beauty!

I really wanted to share with you the amazing, original work of Virginia Fleck. She creates spectacular wall mandalas from recycled plastic bags. You cannot imagine how incredible and beautiful they are--she is one of my favorites--a truly inspiring artist!

Please check out her work, you won't be disppointed: http://www.virginiafleck.com/