How to Maintain Your Connection to Nature This Winter
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The sting of harsh winds and icy rain sends many people indoors for the winter. But even if the weather outside is frightful, there are many ways to maintain your connection with nature during the coldest season of the year.
Set Up a Birdfeeder
The great thing about a birdfeeder is that, although it’s outdoors, you can enjoy watching it from your warm, cozy living room. Place it by a window and keep a pair of binoculars within reach. You can even buy a bird guide and learn to identify local species that visit your home.
Buy Yourself Flowers
Staying indoors more than usual can bring down your mood. Brighten it back up by buying flowers, arranging them in your favorite vase, and displaying them somewhere you spend a lot of time. A fresh bouquet can liven up even the most dismal winter evening.
Go Ice Skating
In places where lakes get cold enough to freeze over, ice skating is a quintessential winter activity. Strap on a pair of skates and practice your pirouette!
Just be sure to test the ice before setting foot on it. Ice should be four inches thick for a single skater and seven inches thick for small groups.
If it’s too cold to spend the day outside, head to the closest indoor skating rink and enjoy the best of both worlds — a fun day on the ice without getting pelted by snow.
Have a Picnic
Lay down a thick quilt, bring a thermos of hot chocolate, and enjoy some warm butternut squash soup in the golden glow of the afternoon. It may not involve sundresses, but a winter picnic is also free from annoyances like sunburns, ants, and flies, which can make it a much more serene experience.
Create Snow Angels
While you’re outside, you might as well reconnect with your inner child. Lay flat on your back in the snow and create a snow angel, then take a photo to commemorate the occasion.
Watch a Nature Documentary
Ready to warm back up? A great way to maintain your connection with nature in the winter is to watch nature documentaries. Enjoy a show that takes place somewhere hotter, like Australia or the Philippines, to mentally transport yourself to a nice, sunny locale.
Visit an Apple Orchard
Although you may not be able to pick your own apples in the winter, many orchards are still open to the public. Walk through the rows of trees in quiet contemplation, then head indoors and enjoy hot apple cider or pie.
Go Cool-Weather Camping
Feeling adventurous? Winter is the perfect time to go camping in places that would normally be off-limits.
For example, Death Valley National Park is usually so hot that it’s impossible to enjoy visiting — it famously reached 134°F in 1913, the hottest recorded air temperature on Earth. In the winter, however, the temperature is mild and rarely dips below freezing.
Pack your tent, a sleeping bag, and plenty of good food, then head somewhere new for the weekend.
Build a Snow Fort
When was the last time you built a fort or igloo? Rekindle your love of the outdoors by playing in the snow. It’s a really fun way to maintain your connection to nature, your kids, and yourself.
Make Nature-Inspired Artwork
Many sculptors, painters, musicians and other artists are inspired by the natural world. Here are some ideas for nature-themed projects you can do in the winter:
- Break out a set of dipping pens and an inkwell, then sketch the snowy mountains near your home.
- Sculpt the animals you see outside your window.
- Create a watercolor that captures the subtle blue, pink, and gold light of the sunset on the ice.
- Write a song about a recent visit to the woods.
- Make paper snowflakes to hang around your house.
Listen to Natural Sounds
Put on some natural white noise as you go about your day. Enjoy the ambiance of the ocean, a rainforest alive with birds, or simply the sound of the gentle breeze whistling in the background. Many people find these sounds very soothing, especially if it’s hard to get outside and hear them for real.
Long winter nights actually make for pretty amazing stargazing. Layer up in your warmest clothes and sit outside to look for constellations, meteors, and nebulae, basking in the faint glow of the moon.
Don’t want to venture out into the cold, icy darkness? Visit your local planetarium to gaze in wonderment at the stars while still staying warm.
Read About Nature
Another way to experience a connection to nature is to read about it. Pick up a field guide and learn about the trees in your local park. Live vicariously through famous nature writers like Jane Goodall, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Edward Abbey. Or, revisit childhood classics like My Side of the Mountain and White Fang.
Take a Hike
When the weather warms back up — as much as it can in winter, anyway — why not take a stroll? Walk through the park under glistening icicles or enjoy the solitude of a wooded mountain path in the fog. Look for animal tracks in the snow as you walk. Just make sure you always tell someone where you’re going if you head to a remote location.
Visit a Conservatory
A conservatory is a large indoor greenhouse or terrarium. It’s often brimming with plants, tropical birds, and peaceful water features, making it a relaxing place to go when it’s too cold to enjoy the outdoors.
Plant a Winter Garden
Depending on where you live, there may be several hardy crops and flowers you can plant outdoors in the winter. Many winter seeds survive better if you plant them in a container rather than sowing them directly into the ground. You can also sow seeds indoors so they’ll be ready to transplant outside in the spring.
Another idea is to start an indoor herb garden that will add delicious, homegrown flavor to your favorite winter dishes. If you care for your plants properly, they will keep providing spices all year round!
Enjoying a Strong Connection to Nature
The arrival of winter doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. However, even if you do decide to spend more time indoors, there are still countless ways to experience a connection with nature. You might even find that winter has become your favorite season! So, make the most of the cold days and long nights while you can — spring will be here before you know it.
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About the author
Steve is the Managing Editor of Environment.co and regularly contributes articles related to wildlife, biodiversity, and recycling. His passions include wildlife photography and bird watching.