Seasonal changes are among nature’s most wondrous displays. I’ve lived all of my life in the Midwest, where these changes are dramatic. The prairie is home to tornadoes, thunderstorms, snow, ice, some of the hottest summer temperatures in the nation, intense winds, droughts, dust storms and drenching rains. Yet even with all this drama, I think nothing is more awe-inspiring than the seemingly impossible transition from winter to spring.
What in this world seems more unlikely than the tender, fragile curls of a fresh spring sprout overcoming the heavy, cold snow above? And yet, unbelievable as it seems, the little sprout wins out, year in and year out, fighting as hard as it can to survive and thrive against improbable odds. A purple petal stands out against gray slush. Life asserts itself once again.
I think most of us inherently know spending time in nature is a benefit. We feel rejuvenated as we step out for a brisk morning walk, dig in the dirt planting seeds, or feel the sun on our backs as we pick a perfectly ripe strawberry. Studies have found spending time outdoors to be beneficial for everything from our circulation to our aptitude for kindness and empathy. Most of us also have personal experience with nature’s ability to impact our mental state—perhaps most noticeably at the change of seasons. Who can deny the cozy sleepiness of winter, or the rush of spring fever?
As we build our connections with nature, however, I wonder if we might add “source of inspiration” to the list of its benefits for us. Today’s world can seem like a frightening place, teeming with difficult problems and deep disagreements about the solutions. Sometimes it can be tempting to throw in the towel, bury our heads in the sand and retreat from the worries of the world.
And yet, that is not what life on our planet is trained to do: Life on this planet has been so vastly and broadly successful because every living thing has fought for the chance to survive and thrive. As a society, I believe we too must struggle to thrive, to become our best selves, to grow despite the many obstacles in our way. Perhaps if we take inspiration from the pluck of those tiny, delicate spring sprouts, we will remember to face our problems every day with braveness and dignity, even—perhaps especially—when we feel faced with impossible odds.
1. Tasty, simple recipes filled with spring produce
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