Nature Abounds … In The City

If you’re a nature lover, you might think you have to leave the city to get your fix, but I’ve begun to realize there’s more than meets the eye in most cities. Here are a few ways I’ve lately become more aware of the nature around me in the city. Ditch your car for a minute. You might not find total solitude—and bring a friend if you’d feel more comfortable—but you’re guaranteed to feel closer to nature and breathe fresher air than you could in your car or on the street. Some days the birds in Denver are practically performing an opera—and they might be in your city, too. Migratory birds and other animals congregate around the waterways flowing between neighborhoods and developments. Aside from the animals I’ve seen there—only a few feet removed from busy streets—it’s also a place to simply watch the water flow, a soothing meditation in the middle of the urban chaos. Moving cars, people and signs at eye level constantly vie for our attention. I’ve seen huge raccoons on the street in Denver, late in the evening when the neighborhood was quiet. Of course, it’s important to remain aware of your surroundings if you don’t feel safe after dark.

Was he staring at me? I locked my car door and looked back across the street at the man standing motionless on the sidewalk—and realized the object of his attention was a gray rabbit sniffing and hopping along the curb in front of my apartment building. In the middle of Denver. A metro area of around 3 million people. If you’re a nature lover, you might think you have to leave the city to get your fix, but I’ve begun to realize there’s more than meets the eye in most cities. You just have to be aware and shift your perspective. And since research is increasingly showing the benefits of time spent in nature, why not get a little dose whenever you can? Here are a few ways I’ve lately become more aware of the nature around me in the city.

Ditch your car for a minute. If you don’t have the time to drive out to a wilderness area, don’t worry. There are probably patches of nature closer than you realize. The key is to get out on your own two feet. Even better: Find an unpaved trail. Lots of city parks have dirt paths that go deeper into the park—read: farther away from vehicle noise. Strap on your hiking shoes and break free from the pavement. You might not find total solitude—and bring a friend if you’d feel more comfortable—but you’re guaranteed to feel closer to nature and breathe fresher air than you could in your car or on the street.

Take a break from the headphones. I’m a music lover and podcast addict, so it’s tempting to live with constant input—either with speakers at home or earbuds in public. But I realize I’ll never hear just how many birds are singing around me if I never turn down the noise that I’m actually in control of. Some days the birds in Denver are practically performing an opera—and they might be in your city, too. You just have…

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