shinrin-yoku | “forest bathing”
A short, leisurely trip into a forest or natural space to experience the restorative effects of spending time in the stillness of nature.
I came across this term while researching the Portland Japanese Garden, and understood the meaning immediately. To me it’s that moment when you breathe in the fresh woodsy air, and can’t see houses or hear cars on the road anymore. I’ve experienced this as nearby as the hike & bike trail in my town (once you pass the part next to the highway of course), and as that first step out of the car after a road trip out of the city/suburbs.
I had an expectation of Portland as a ‘hippie-paradise’, but it was a lot more a standard city, in my opinion. (Not that I didn’t appreciate the convenience of Whole Foods & Starbucks as many of the quirky chain stores were closed for the holiday weekend.) If you’re looking for hippie-paradise, by the way, just travel south of Portland a few hours to the city of Eugene.
A short and inexpensive ride on the light rail brings you directly from the city center to the perfect forest-bathing spot – Washington Park. Washington Park encompasses many attractions – the Portland Zoo, the Portland Children’s Museum, and the Hoyt Arboretum among them. Being a garden junkie, I opted for the Portland Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden. (I did make a brief stop at the zoo to check out an adorable baby polar bear named Nora.)
The first day of summer is nearly here (also known as Midsummer, Summer Solstice, or St. John’s Day, alternatively), so I thought it would be a good time to do a garden check-in. Planting a spring garden (aka planting cool-tolerant crops that will be ready before the main summer veggies) wasn’t in the cards for me this year, but those that did should be reaping the reward of lettuces, carrots, radishes, cabbages & more.
A little background – my garden is an allotment in a community garden. It’s my first year at this community garden, so my garden plot was randomly picked, sight unseen, and I had no idea what condition or set-up I would be inheriting. This was the first time I got to check it out, back in February:
February 2017 – ‘Yikes’ moment
I did have a ‘Yikes’ moment, but it didn’t turn out to be so bad…
I recently went on my first trip to the Pacific Northwest – to the super green state of Oregon! I’m a wildflower addict, so it was amazing to see the different species out there – in meadows, roadsides, and forests. I couldn’t help but photograph as many as I could to make my own little ‘field guide’. I’ve tried to identify them as best I could with my own knowledge, some helpful placards, and an actual (and awesome) field guide by the National Wildlife Federation. Without further ado –
Large-Leaf Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) – along the Columbia River Gorge.
I knew lupines were a common wildflower out west, but they seemed about as common as dandelions are in my neighborhood in the North East. They come in all sorts of colors, but I thought this bluish purple was very striking against the green.