I love forests. I always have. I grew up in one. Well, not literally but in close proximity and spent lots of time there. From my playground the Polish Masuria forest, through the Japanese Bamboo forest, the Amazon, to the Adirondack Mountains forest, and the North Pacific – they are all a wonder.
All this time, I didn’t know I was practicing shinrin-yoku known in English as forest bathing. I learned this last year when I stumbled across Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li.
My last forest adventure was this summer in Poland in the Baltic Sea peninsula of Hel. I still remember the dry smell of pine trees and heather in the heat, the carpet of pine needles under the feet, a thousand of small pine cones covering the forest floor. Some ferns here and there, last blueberries of the summer, sun filtering through the branches. The forest eventually gives way to the dunes and there are wild roses on the edges.
Recently I came across and looking forward to reading Marcelo Gleiser’s “The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected: A Natural Philosopher’s Quest for Trout and the Meaning of Everything.” Gleiser wrote a short piece about the very subject of forest bathing for NPR. He mentions the philosopher Alan Watts whose words resonate deeply “You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.”
Above: The dune house we stayed at in Hel.
Above: Standing at the edge of the woods where the trees transition into grasses.