No matter where you live, you can appreciate the nature around you. In the country it might be easier, the big mountain views, rolling green pastures and farmland, and the huge variety of wildlife. But life in the city can be just as great. I used to love to watch the Mocking birds and squirrels squabbling and chasing each other, and I liked getting to work early because I got to see the sunrise every day.
Sometimes though, we get caught up in the fast pace of our life and a week, a month, or even a year can go by without us noticing the beauty around us.
Here are just a few of my favorite often overlooked bits of nature:
- Business and residential landscaping. Ever pass by a lawyer’s office, a gas station or walk down your neighborhood street and fail to notice the freshly planted flowers or the tinkling sound of a waterfall? Look around you as you go around your errands, you may be surprised to see the Cardinal on the fence post or smell the blossoms of a Gardenia bush. There is beauty in the most unexpected places.
- Rainbows. How many times have you looked at the sprinklers working back and forth as you entered or left work? Did you look closely? I’ve often smiled when the sun hit the falling water just right producing a beautiful rainbow. That quick rain storm on the drive home is much more appealing when you see that rare double rainbow against a bright blue sky.
- Baby birds. Have you ever noticed how many times birds will make their nests in a neon sign, billboard or building ledge? If so do you keep watch in the spring to see how many baby birds you can spot in them? I do this as a game sometimes and am surprised at how many I can find. It’s always fun to watch the nest grow and the eventual flight of the baby chicks.
- Wildlife count. If you work somewhere that you can take a walk at break time, try to do a count of how many different animals you see on the way. I think the most I saw in one 15 minute walk was 45 animals! Count the birds, squirrels, lizards, butterflies, bees, and dogs you pass on the way. (No, ants don’t count – there are just too many of them.)
- Leaf color. Did you know that many plants such as flowers, bushes, and trees will change their leaf color at different times of the year. Some will only change the lightness or darkness of the leaves, other will turn red in the summer, yellow in spring, or orange in the fall. Keep an eye out as the seasons change and note the progress.
- Star light. Although I take my dogs out every night before bed, I often wait until the last minute and hurry back in the house. I relish the nights when I stop, look up at the blackness overhead and view the glory of the stars. In the country I love to see the Milky Way, but even in the city I can stand in the shadow of the house and see the Big Dipper or other star clusters. It’s never a boring sight.
- The sun and wind. How many times do you step outside on the way to the store, taking out the trash or some other chore and notice the warm feel of the sun, the golden light of it as it filters through the trees? Do you stop to feel the wind playing with your hair and the fresh smell in the air after a rain?
- Crickets and frogs. I often sit outside for a few minutes at night to listen to a nighttime serenade of crickets. If you live by the water, even just a creek, you will often hear the symphony of croaking frogs joining in. (I have no idea why croaking frogs are soothing, but they are.)
- Laughter. Yes, this is a sound of nature. When I had a hard day of work, I would sometimes go into the backyard, sit down and close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me. 9 out of 10 times I would hear children laughing and playing somewhere in the neighborhood. It would always lift my spirits and make me smile.
- Fog. I love the ethereal, soft and subdued look and sound of the world in a thick mist. It softens the edges of everything you see and mutes the harsh noises of cars and traffic. I love to wonder what magical creatures might be hidden in the fog.
Well that’s my list for now. I hope it has made you look twice at the world around you and see the ordinary world in a new light. If you have any great sights and sounds that make you smile, please share them here.