The importance of nature in our lives

When we were determining if we should stay in Karmiel or move to a different more central area that would have better access for the services for Yirmiyahu, I made a list of all the positives about Karmiel. One thing that was hard for me to think of leaving was the natural beauty of Karmie that can be seen at every turn – we don’t have to look far or go out of our way to find it.

This may sound material, but it’s not.  For me it’s a spiritual and emotional experience.  Whether I’m literally having an outdoor experience by camping in a forest or just taking a walk locally and observing the scenery around me, I feel happier, more relaxed and more centered.  Living here isn’t like living in a nature reserve by any means, but there are plenty of places for your eyes to rest on something beautiful.  So when I saw the book Last Child in the Woods about nature deficit disorder in today’s generation of children the concept immediately resonated with me and the title itself seemed to validate my feeling about the importance of nature in our livess.

Unfortunately, that ebook wasn’t available to check out from my library, but fortunately, the follow-up book was – The Nature Principle.  The book basically detailed different aspects of how people benefit by connecting to nature were discussed: physically, emotionally, pyschologically, socially.  It’s a worthwhile read.

But you don’t need to read a book to know the restorative power that there is in having some quiet time in a beautiful place.  I have my own special place just a fifteen minute walk away – the waterfall in Park Hagalil – and though I infrequently go there, just thinking about it makes me feel more relaxed and calm.

(l-r) Ds9, ds6, ds4, ds2 cooling their  legs opposite the waterfall

(l-r) spring 2012 – Ds9, ds6, ds4, ds2 cooling their legs in pond by waterfall

Then there are the many parks and green areas, the rolling hills surrounding the city, the amazing views that I keep discovering in different areas – even a little area where we discovered a number of woodchucks living – I love these things.  There are edible plants all over (though I haven’t done much foraging lately I still love seeing them) and literally every single time I walk outside I see something that makes me feel happier inside.

Every time I come back to Karmiel after a day in one of the larger cities, I have this feeling of “Ahhhh, I’m so glad to be home….”

beautiful view from our porch - hills in the distance and our street in the foreground

view from our window

So often I think how glad I am to be able to raise my children in a place where it’s normal for them to experience the natural world.  Not having this would be a loss for me.  There are conveniences in bigger cities but there’s also a loss when the buildings are so high and the only view you have is of more buildings and more buildings and more buildings…

I spent today traveling to Haifa and though I had plenty to do at home when I returned, instead I chose to watch the kids playing in the park a couple of minutes away, knowing that it would do more to help me recharge after a tiring day than anything else.

park 1

Seeing the beauty in nature helps me connect to myself, my creator, to be more patient and loving to others…when I’m having a hard time, being outdoors helps me find the quiet and clarity inside.  I have a busy life and if I had to drive somewhere to have this experience, it would never happen.  But fortunately, every day during my half an hour walk to pick up ds5 from kindergarten I can see beautiful sights without going out of my way!

I don’t think that beautiful natural surroundings are enough to make a person happy if their other important needs aren’t being met.  I would have loved to live in a small village-like area but our family would have been unhappy with friends and schools for our kids being far away.  We found a good balance for our family by moving to a centrally located, low density neighborhood in a small city, but you can find natural beauty everywhere – sometimes you just have to look harder!

Do you relate to the feeling of nature filling you up with something good, something important?  What does it do for you?

Avivah

6 thoughts on “The importance of nature in our lives

  1. I definitely hear you! In our old community, it was just apartment buildings, and every yard pretty much was either tiled over, or run over by thorn bushes. Not any trees other than a few scrawny stuff, and not any grass really… But I was happy there.
    Then we moved to our current community where there are trees everywhere, lots of grass and wildflowers- we live right near a “tayelet” where there are lots of flowers and trees and grassy areas, parks, etc… And living here really makes me so much happier, in ways that I didnt even realize I missed before moving here…
    I love that I can go for walks with my kids and forage a whole bunch of wild foods that grow all over. I love that my kids can run on the grass in the park. I love that there are big shade trees.

    Nature is the balm to my soul, I sometimes feel.

    The way you make it sound from your post, by the way, is that no place compares to karmiel in terms of natural beauty. Is that how you feel?

    1. I don’t think Karmiel is better than everywhere else, but I do consciously appreciate what we have here. There are many beautiful places in Israel – the entire country is stunning! – but in the bigger cities it’s so congested with high buildings everywhere, not much open space. When I return from these cities, I always am happy that I don’t have to live there (though there are many advantages of living in those places, obviously!).

      When you said a ‘balm for your soul’, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. We tend to discount the value of having nice views or green spaces as superficial, but it’s really not. It’s because it’s intangible that we tend to discount its importance.

  2. It’s funny that what you call “nature” is what we see everyday here in chutz la’aretz. We just call it parks and trees and whatnot and I suppose we’ve taken it for granted; something we won’t be able to do so easily in the years to come. We live near a ravine that the city has cultivated into a forest, but even on regular streets, we’re surrounded by mature trees, shaded playgrounds and bike / walking paths. Perhaps that’s one of the things about Karmiel that, ever so quietly, whispered to us that it might be a good home.

    1. How much ‘nature’ you see doesn’t depend on if you live outside of Israel or not. but on what the community you live in is like I lived in a large city in the US and had to drive to see what I wrote about here. I felt lucky that within a fifteen minute drive I could be out ‘in the country’, but I definitely couldn’t easily walk there. When I lived on the west coast in a different large city, I had a huge gorgeous park with a conservatory practically across the street, and wherever I drove, I saw beautiful lakes and views. Karmiel is a city, not a small agricultural village, but it was planned well with plenty of space dedicated to green areas.

      There’s unquestionable something to appreciate wherever you are, but some places make it so much easier to find natural beauty, and I feel lucky to be where I am!

  3. Agreed 100% ! It’s funny though, how every one of these pictures you posted could just as easily have been a picture of where we live right here in the center:) In general every place I have visited so far around Israel, no matter how urban and snazzy or old and somewhat run down or somewhere in between usually has pockets of natural beauty or if you go high enough or stand at a particular angle you will be treated to most beautiful and breathtaking views. Also, the more recently build places I’ve been too, all had really fantastic landscaping that used the many natural features of each place, as well as the native plants to its best advantage. I just love it! How wonderful for you to live in a place that makes you feel this way and has this natural loveliness easily accessible!

  4. I know exactly what you mean. When I take my kids out to play in a park, we’re all instantly in a better mood. Sibling rivalry dissolves, and I’m soooo calm and patient.

    I also love that our house has “woods” behind it. It’s really just a stand of trees maybe a hundred meters deep, but deer and woodchucks live there. There’s a little waterway, too. My kids love to go out there to play, and they just have to step out of the backdoor to get there.

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