Practice: A Beauty Stroll
A beauty stroll can be taken any day of the year, but its appeal is most obvious in spring. Each green bud emerging after a hard winter is a tiny wave of relief and anticipation, each sign of new life as welcome as the moist, refreshing air.
So a stroll through a wooded hillside feels like walking through a party full of old friends. Per a practice developed by Ruth Baetz in her Wild Communion: Experiencing Peace in Nature, I call out each discovery by name: “Hello maple buds, hello bluebells, hello daffodils. 'Appreciate your beauty and it’s good to have you back.”
At first it feels slightly strange, verbalizing each moment of recognition. But it quickly leads to a palpable sharpening of my antennae for things new and beautiful amid the greys and browns of the still-awakening forest. Soon the comments are made without thinking as I scan the landscape and take in more beauty at a finer level of detail.
With the late onset of spring this year in Michigan, it seems the beauty is rolling out at a pace to make up for lost time. And the activity is not limited to plants.
A thin squirrel sprints across the path, reconsiders and executes a complicated, graceful and ultimately pointless 360-degree spin through the air, then continues in his original direction and charges up a nearby walnut tree. For a moment I am speechless, then I laugh aloud, commend his dervish moves and continue through the woods.