{spending time in nature …making the whole world kin}

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”  William Shakespeare

These aren’t easy times, and on the national as well as international stage, this past week seemed to emphasize chaos and sadness. I don’t dwell unnecessarily on the details of violence and its aftermath, but I can’t tune out. I’m not even sure I want to tune out, but I do need balance.

Spending time in nature brings down the noise. The noise in the world–and the noise in my head.

In my last post I brought Flat Stanley along to introduce one of my “new to me” favorite places to visit. Our son and daughter-in-law live within walking distance of Lake Merritt, a large tidal lagoon in the center of Oakland, California. I am so pleased that they have this lovely spot for their own “de-stressifying,” and I hope to visit again soon.


This lake was originally fed by the San Francisco Bay and the thick wetlands brought large numbers of migratory birds.  Dr. Merritt, Oakland’s mayor who owned property at the shore’s edge, proposed to turn the lake into a wildlife refuge. The state legislature voted Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge into law in 1870, making it the first wildlife refuge in North America. I wonder if many Oaklanders know that!

Multiple bird “islands” in the lake shelter hundreds of nesting and roosting water fowl.

There are delightful gardens and a variety of other activities, but for me, the water is the feature that draws me in.



DSC_3736DSC_3737Water is my first choice for total relaxation, but for many, it’s a walk in the woods. And Oakland offered a choice opportunity to walk in the shade of California redwoods.


Not far from Lake Merritt a great forest of coast redwoods join with other evergreens, chaparral and grasslands in more than 1,800 acres of parkland. We didn’t see any of the wildlife known to live in these woods, but sightings of the golden eagle and Alameda striped racer have been noted, as well as the deer, raccoons, rabbits and squirrels.

But it’s the trees!

Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) can reach more than 350 feet tall. The trees in this Oakland park are approximately 150 feet high. The old growth trees were nearly destroyed in the mid-19th century extensive logging supplying housing materials for the San Francisco Bay post-Gold Rush boom.

I hope soon to take you with me to California’s Redwood National Park. We can look at some of the more impressive trees then. But just to walk in the silence of these more modest groves is good for the soul.


Redwoods are very strong trees. Their root systems are shallow and extend over one hundred feet from the base intertwining with other redwoods, increasing their stability. But even a downed tree can survive. Redwoods can grow successfully from sprouts that form around the base of a tree. When the parent tree dies, a new generation of trees rise, creating a circle of trees that are often called fairy rings.

I feel lighter just thinking about the beauty and serenity of Lake Merritt right in the middle of a bustling city, and the redwood groves offering complete silence nearby. I think it’s a remarkable human quality that even visualizing the pleasure and enjoyment of beautiful natural settings encourages a sense of well-being.

In stressful times, I encourage as much positive visualizing as you can bring into your daily life. And every city, town and village offers opportunities to get outdoors for relaxation and enjoyment, sometimes you simply need to look for it!

To emphasize  the benefit of spending time in appreciation of the outdoors and the natural world, let’s re-visit the opening quote,

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” William Shakespeare

I appreciate a positive meditation in turbulent times. Breathe lighter, my friends.

40 thoughts on “{spending time in nature …making the whole world kin}

  1. Those trees are magnificent Debra, and I can really imagine walking amongst them and the cares of the world simply melting into the silence… I am perhaps more of a woodland person than a water lover (even though I do love a rocky coast with wild waves!) but that lake in Oakland must be such a valuable retreat from the city – not only for the birds! Have a good week, with as many opportunities to touch nature as possible! 🙂

    • Thank you, Cathy. I expect it to be a good week, despite our raging heat and local fires–again! LOL! All things in perspective–we are grateful for our safety and air conditioning. 🙂 The redwoods are really gorgeous and we are hoping to go north to the “big trees” later this fall. They are giants and absolute treasures. I hope you, too, have a wonderful week!

    • Ah, Colleen. Nature does offer such an opportunity to heal, and if only those so broken could respond to those healing forces. And the redwoods are so incredible. I hope to get up north to the larger groves later this fall. I have no idea how I can photograph them, however. They are just enormous. I hope you have a good, and peaceful week, my friend.

  2. It’s a crazy world, ins’t it. But like you I don’t think we can turn the blind eye to what is happening, although we do need to find places where we can find sanity again. Mother Nature is not a bad place, like Lake Merritt. Looks like a love lake with it’s areas around.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful response, Otto. I do respond well to being outdoors and I think I am fortunate to have the time to find these lovely spots right in the middle of very busy, urban centers. I wonder if you’ve ever photographed redwoods? We hope to get to the giant redwoods and sequoias later this fall, and I’m already wondering how I’m going to photograph them. That will be interesting! 🙂

  3. You have no idea how wonderful it is for me to see some water views and the deep cool forest of redwoods. Thanks for this lovely post. Nature helps me too when the world seems just too much, too brutal, to unimaginable in its horror. Every morning the housefinches’ twitter helps me to start a new day right.

    • I’m a bird watcher, too, Inger. If I sit on my patio and watch the morning birds I start my day with a smile. I’m sure you’re really experiencing this heat right now! I hope you are able to stay indoors and don’t have too many outdoor responsibilities right now. So good to hear from you, my friend.

  4. I love white pelicans. Having the Canada goose for scale really emphasizes how large these magnificent birds are. Great photos! And what a beautiful place you found! Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

    • I had never seen a white pelican until this experience, Lori. In fact, I was at first almost unsure it was a pelican. LOL! I knew it had to be, of course, but it was so unlike any I’d seen before. I would love to go back on my own time with my camera and see if I could capture photos of some of the other species. There really were so many birds and I’d also imagine that since many are migratory another time of year would be interesting. The best part of the story for me related to my son is that they didn’t know Lake Merritt was there until after they’d bought their house, and they could actually walk there–what a surprise! And they are so glad that I enjoy it so much when I visit!

    • I was very surprised to see the gondolas, Eric. They were connected to one of the shoreline restaurants. I have a love of silence, too. It often is very hard for me to find it, however, although if I’m in a beautiful setting I’m able to experience quiet, even if not complete silence! 🙂

  5. Last Autumn I wrote a post titled, “There is peace in trees,” Debra. I feel this way in nature, too. Your photos, especially including water, helped me to breathe in negative ions. They were calming and original in their content. 🙂

  6. Thanks for this post, Debra, I particularly enjoyed the pictures of the redwoods – and the gondola!
    Talking of turmoil in our lives – tomorrow we shall vote about remaining in the EU or leaving; after voting we shall go for a long walk by the sea.

  7. The woods are and always have been my favorite place to be – I felt calmer just looking at your pictures, I could practically feel the temperature drop and smell that wonderful clean air!

  8. As usual you entertain, soothe, inspire and inform. You are right we are living in challenging times, and it’s distressing. I make sure to be around nature at least once a week to bring balance into my mind and spirit. At home we have water fountains in the backyard with plenty of trees and ferns, and it’s soothing. 🙂

  9. Debra, I’m lovin’ this!
    Now I know you should read the book I reviewed, “The Edge of the Orchard”, of only for the the second half of the book about the redwoods. One day, yet, I WILL make it to the Redwood National Forest. My mom’s first cousin lived in the area. When my mother died, he had a tree planted in her name. I just need to go and be somewhere in the area of remembrance of her and the greater scope of what these trees mean. WOW! I did not know that a downed redwood would continue to grow.

  10. Debra, I know exactly what you mean about growing out the noise of the world with nature. There many times when I need to be in my garden or to just go for a walk — to remind myself that there are wonders in this world worth celebrating. I often believe that the culprits in our world need to do that before they act on their impulses, hatred, and/or fanaticism. Like you, water always draws me in. Even if I don’t see it each day, I take comfort in knowing that it’s nearby. 🙂

  11. I know what you mean about stressful times – all these atrocities being carried out by Islamic fanatics. All over the world. And this morning I woke to the news of so many innocent people dead in Turkey. It’s just horrid. But your images are very calming and soothing, Debra. I do love the redwood forests! I have a photo of my mother visiting the redwood forests about 40 years ago! I’m very pleased that 40 years later it all looks just the same xx

  12. I am lucky to have Hampstead Heath and Coldfall Wood close to where I live – both have areas of native Beech and Hornbeam. Amen to the peace that nature can bring 🙂

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