Walking Through a Forest Preserve in Spring Delights the Senses
Wildflower Field in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve
"We need the tonic of wilderness." ~ Henry David Thoreau
Our lives, mood and sense of well-being can be greatly enhanced by spending time in nature. In her book, A Natural History of the Senses, author Diane Ackerman writes: "People think of the mind as being located in the head, but the latest findings in physiology suggest that the mind doesn't really dwell in the brain but travels the whole body on caravans of enzyme, busily making sense of the compound wonders we catalogue as touch, taste, smell, hearing, vision."
This is perhaps why it feels so good to walk through wooded areas and fields of wildflowers or to sit on a bench overlooking a serene lake. Doing so literally changes the chemicals in our whole body and is one way of improving our biochemistry without the ingestion of toxic drugs. Even short, quiet encounters with natural elements can calm us and help us feel connected to the world and all the creatures in it.
Picnic Area in Sea Pines Forest Preserve
A Walk Through the Sea Pines Forest Preserve in Springtime
Simply viewing photos of peaceful, beautiful locales can activate our senses as we imagine ourselves being in the place that we're looking at. The rest of this hub will take you on a pictorial tour of the Sea Pines Forest Preserve on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and will hopefully inspire you to take a walk in a preserve or park that's within driving distance of your own hometown.
Springtime is busy on Hilton Head Island. Families and young adults on spring break come to enjoy the pristine beaches and festivals, filling the island with tourists but there are still places to get away from the crowds and enjoy some quiet time communing with nature.
One of my favorite off the beaten paths is the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. Nestled within the bosom of Sea Pines Resort and accessible by paying a $5.00 gate fee per car load of people, it's a heavenly delight for anyone who loves nature and craves the sound of singing birds and rustling pine trees.
Preserve visitors can take a deep breath and inhale the sweet scent of sea air mingled with pine as their eyes feast on live oaks draped with Spanish Moss, palm trees, tall pines, wildflowers, and four man made lakes that comprise the largest, open freshwater resources on the island and are a sanctuary for bird-life and fisheries.
The Sea Pines Preserve encompasses 605 acres for wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation. The first trails, built in the early 1970's followed antebellum rice dikes that were originally constructed by plantation slaves. Current day visitor access has been enhanced through the construction of bridle paths, wetland boardwalks, observation decks, bridges and fishing docks (though the catch and release fishing is reserved for Sea Pines residents and their guests).
Fish Island, accessible by car, is the heart of the preserve and has picnic tables and prime views of the lakes. My husband, who was not able to walk the trails, enjoyed reading by the lake as I hiked through the preserve and took pictures. By the time I returned to the picnic area hubby was grilling mouth watering lamb chops which we enjoyed eating in this serene setting.
Warner W. Plahs Wildflower Field at Sea Pines Forest Preserve
Field of Wildflowers
Close-up of Wildflowers
The Joy of Discovering Thousands of Wildflowers
Across from the picnic area is the Warner W. Plahs Wildflower Field and Butterfly Bushes. Throughout late March, April, May and June many varieties of wildflowers bloom changing the predominant colors that visitors see. During my visit the hues were mostly yellow, gold and orange with splashes of red, white and blue.
Species planted in the field include African Daisies, Baby's Breath, Dame's Rocket, Drummond Phlox, Plains Coreopsis, Red Dwarf Coreopsis, Baby Blue Eyes, Black Eyed Susans, Rocket Larkspur, Sweet Alysseum, Corn Poppies, Clasping Susans, Indian Blankets and others.
The garden is tended by volunteers from the Sea Pines Garden Club and is a gift to all who come upon it. I felt my heart literally leap with joy when I first saw it and though one can not walk amidst the flowers as they are protected by a wooden fence, I took great delight in walking around the full perimeter of it.
Buddhist leader and ecologist, Thich Nhat Hanh once said, "May our heart's garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers." By that, I think he was suggesting that we open our hearts to the beauty that's around us and in doing so our souls will blossom.
Nature preserves and parks can raise our spirits even in troubled times by helping us remain fully engaged in the present moment. To gaze upon nature's bounty fills us with a sense of peace and well-being as naturally as water quenches thirst.
So on the next warm spring day that comes your way, seize the moment and take a walk. Even if you just walk through your own neighborhood focus on the new growth that's occurring all around you and it will raise your spirits.
There is an old proverb that gives the best reason to do so: "Cheerfulness is the very flower of health." When we walk among the flowers good cheer bubbles up to the surface and fills us with a sense of well-being and joy.
Spending time in nature isn't a panacea for mental health issues, nor is it a replacement for other forms of professional therapy or self-healing, but it can be a powerful tool in maintaining or improving our mental health.
In summary, a nature walk is an inexpensive and effective stress buster that promotes physical and emotional well-being while delighting the senses. Even those with mild to moderate clinical depression may see their mood rise after spending time outdoors in a beautiful setting.
Goodbye. Hope You Enjoyed Your Tour.
Sea Pines Forest Preserve on Hilton Head Island
Sea Pines Forest Preserve has beautiful trees, lakes, picnic areas and a wildflower field. Guided horseback and alligator tours are available.
Link to a Beautiful Hub About Spring
- Bold and Vivid - The Colours of Spring
My friend, Movie Master, has taken stunning photos of spring blooming flowers and trees in this not to be missed hub.