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What Spending Time in Nature Teaches Me

Be quiet

A mother and two teenage daughters with arms abut each other, smiling. An outdoor shot in front of a pear tree.
With my two daughters, Lara and Merribeth, in front of the pear tree in the garden at Evergreen, a few years ago. Photo by Rob.

As a child I talked a lot. I was seldom silent.


I remember when I was about five years old asking my mother if we had a set number of words we could say in our lives, and when we had said that many words, we couldn’t say any more.


She replied, ‘No, but if there were, you’ll soon use all yours up.’


My father was the opposite of me. He was, by nature, a silent man.

I suspect he inherited this trait from his Scottish parents, who came from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. People who live on that windswept island learn early to keep their mouths shut against the biting Atlantic gales if they don’t want their teeth to ache.

Although he said little to me as I grew up, he repeated the following quip often enough that it is woven inextricably into my memories of him.

When all is said and done, more is said than done.

Dad believed in doing things, not talking about what had to be done till there was no time left for the task.

I don’t talk as much as I did as a child. In fact, the older I get the less I have to say.

Perhaps the lesson from my father is finally sinking in.

Or it may be because I’ve retired and stay home most days, so I’m not surrounded by people to talk to. There’s just Rob and me.

Or maybe I’m learning to be quiet from the garden at Evergreen, and from my daily walks.

What I Learn When I Garden

Things growing in the garden quietly go about their business.

  • The purple-leafed sycamore is soundless unless the wind moves through its branches.

  • White-faced shasta daisies don’t say anything as they dance in the wintery breeze.

  • Red cabbages silently thrust out leaves to protect their emerging hearts without shouting daily updates.

So, when I’m in the garden I don’t talk.

My whole body calms down.

Even my mind settles down to a low murmur.

What a relief!

What I learn When I Go for Walks

I go for a walk every day.

When I go for a walk I notice how tiny I am in the scheme of things.

Sensing this makes me grow very quiet.

A gravel road, grassy verge, and sun shining through a tree. Blue sky. A woman in the distance, looking small in the landscape, walks towards the camera.
Me walking along Ryan Road, Lowlands, in the late afternoon. Photo by Rob.

If life gets hectic and noisy for you this week, step out into your garden or go for a walk.

Give yourself some quiet time.

With love, Marlane

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