By Katrina Relyea, VIC Summer Naturalist

As sunset happens earlier and the night air takes on a chill, I am reminded of the slow advance of time. Monarchs are beginning their migration south. I’m leaving the Adirondacks, too, and on this sunny day, I find myself alone in the Butterfly House. It’s a real treat.

With no visitors to talk to, I sit and absorb my surroundings. I hear cicadas humming and a motorcyclist roaring. Next to me, the fountain trickles. A car horn beeps and I hear voices. The sun warms my shirt while a slight breeze fans my face. When was the last time I sat outside and let it fill my senses? Too long ago. According to a recent study, we spend an average of only two hours outside a day. When I saw this statistic in a video sponsored by REI Co-op I felt an urge to see if I met that average. Some days I do.

Last summer I spent my fourth year as a camp counselor, immersed in nature from my waking to my sleeping. One way we encourage our campers to experience nature was by doing a solo sit. Go find a spot outside away from people and sit with your eyes closed for at least ten minutes. Open your ears to the quieter sounds of nature. Allow yourself to slow down and take a moment to be free of whatever is stressing you out lately. Take off your shoes and socks! Feel the ground with your toes. Then open your eyes and watch your small circle of wilderness. As humans, we rely heavily on our eyes, but I’ve found that letting my other senses take over enhances any outdoor experience. So I close my eyes again. Now I can hear the leaves rustling in the wind. Birds chirp above me. Crickets raise their voices and join the choir. A bee buzzes by. All of Creation moves along in tune with the seasons, and I am grateful to have spent a brief while away from the rush of human life.

So the next time you visit the VIC, set aside time for a solo sit. Every bench is a voiceless beckoning to pause and just be. I am glad to have lived so close to nature this summer. I’ve enjoyed exploring the broad, and the intricate, details on display here, and I know you will, too.

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