"Limited Time" Outdoor Experiences - Don't Miss them Before they are Gone!

Summer is fleeting but it feels even more fleeting if we don't find the time to get outdoors and really enjoy what it has to offer.  It's a time that seems to be begging to enjoy a slower pace but in these modern times, slowing down isn't something that most people make a priority, even when we have these warm days and extended daylight hours.

And yet time waits for no one and for those of us in the northern hemisphere, here we are with summer days ticking down and Labour Day looming and the opportunity for warm outdoor adventures waning.

So if you want to take advantage of what summer has to offer before it's too late, see if you can schedule some of the following activities like you would your next work task.  Put this "Nature Time" in your day timer and don't cancel for any reason.  And/or when you find that you have a few moments outdoors, let it all sink in.

Use as many senses as possible:
  • what can you hear (both near and far), 
  • what do you see, let the colours of summer saturate your view, 
  • what do you feel - heat, air, a breeze... 

Set reminders in your calendar like you would for a very important meeting.  Make nature your most important client!

Savouring & Sinking into Summer List

Relax on a park bench with a water view rather than parking yourself on your couch in front of the TV.  Water is a magnet for activity whether it's a quiet stream or pond with some possible wildlife appearances or a bigger lake or river with people out on the water.

- Forget the dishes and get outside after dinner.  By mid September the sun will be setting around seven thirty and not long after that, it will be day light savings time.  Take advantage of the extra light.

Seek out some mammals before they hibernate.  Remember the more you go out, the more chances you have to see wildlife.  Best times are early morning or close to sunset.  (I just saw a fox at an urban pond where I enjoy a morning swim from time to time.)

Go for a bike ride as this is a great way to cool down if there is a slight breeze and choose a route that allows you to enjoy some coasting!

- Patios, patios, patios.  If you like eating outdoors, consider this a friendly reminder to enjoy every al fresco dining experience you can.  Including those quick coffee breaks!  :  )

- Pack a blanket in your trunk or bike bag and schedule some time in a park.  Bring your favourite book, some snacks and possibly even a frisbee or ball if you can entice someone else out also.  When was the last time you spent a few lazy hours outdoors?

Expand your bird call knowledge and get to know what birds are close by.  I find that I enjoy the outdoors more when I know that's a blue jay behind me in that tree or there's a gull flying by down the street.

- Take off those shoes and walk barefoot while you still can.  Find a grassy spot at lunch or seek out one last visit to a local beach to feel the sand in your toes.

Find a large field that you can wander through and enjoy some butterflies (I've seen lots of Monarchs this year - yay!), dragon flies and even moths and lightening bugs if you stay after sun down.

- Another way to benefit from these warm nights (while they last) is to check out the starry night sky.  Try to get to the edge of the city or just enjoy the stars you can see in a large park or from a greener vista.

What are your favourite summer activities that you want to double down on 
before the warm weather is gone?

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Summer Scent-scape (and all five senses outdoors)

I know I've written a bit about this before but I was reminded of it during a bike ride I took a few weeks ago and also while reading the amazing book: The Cincinnati Arch by John Tallmadge.  He touched upon so many things in 2004 that are being brought into the forefront now and discussed in detail now: invasive species, nature deficit disorder, modern life outside of nature, etc. which included the difference between our indoor sheltered life and the rich sensory experiences of outdoor excursions.

When we get out in nature it can be a five sense experience!

If not all five senses, it definitely augments our soundscape, our viewscape and our scent-scape and even our sense-scape (think of the feeling of the wind on skin or different types of ground underfoot or even just the sun on our face).  We can even augment the physical sensations by swimming, biking (feeling water and apparent wind) and other physical activities.  Taste can even grace our outdoor experience, through sweat on our face that falls on our lips or if we are knowledgeable about native plants and feel like tasting some of our finds.  (Are there other taste-scapes we experience by going outdoors?)
apparent wind* ( \ ə-ˈper-ənt wīnd): the movement of air experienced by an observer in motion and is the relative velocity of the wind in relation to the observer (link)

But my bike ride was a reminder that the scent-scape of these warm long days is something truly pleasurable to experience especially in high summer when we can smell white clover or that slight aroma of dried grasses in a field.  We also looped along the river where the air was a bit humid and reminded me of childhood scents from searching for crayfish in the shallow riffles near my home.

And I have to admit that even a slight odour of a musty skunk spray that lingered from a night or two ago along one portion of the path, made me smile, as if I had better tracking skills than I actual do.

So I just wanted to share a short "public service announcement" as a reminder to get outside while the days are still warm and the evenings are still long and enjoy all five senses including experiencing the outdoors.

I also noted that there are so many white blooms around and enjoyed taking photos of some of the great surprises that greeted us.  Some times it's hard to remember, but each time we go out, even in the same location, there will be interesting and unique experiences and observations.

As always - happy wilding!

And remember Every Minute in Nature Counts!

*ever since I learnt this definition in a sailing class, each time I'm in a boat or on my bike, I note to myself "and there is the apparent wind" - as if it's a magical, hidden entity that I can only entice to show itself when I get out on the water or on my two-wheeler
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Top 5 things to take on a Nature Walk

Feather in Hand on a Sunny Day in the Park

A friend of mine was wondering what are the top 5 things that I would suggest taking on a nature walk and I loved this question!

Let's first define a nature walk, which to me is a specific outing that you choose to take to connect to nature and I'm assuming it would be a more dedicated space of time that is set aside as a specific activity.  Keep in mind my definition can be very different from yours!  This type of outing that I'm suggesting is not the same as say, putting on some shoes and walking out the door.  Something spontaneous like this (a quick walk) is fun and can provide many health benefits to counteract a stressful day or the need to feel more connected but you may not need to bring a ton of stuff.  That being said, what I'm suggesting below may benefit any type of outdoor nature walk!

What is a Wild. Here. nature outing? 
- a slow meander through a meadow to identify insects
- an exploration of a new path to a water feature
- a more focused nature-therapeutic walk in the woods
- an early morning outing to a popular urban birding location
- a sunset wander to visit a favourite green space
- what else could be a nature outing in your eyes?

Ask yourself these questions:

What does "nature" mean to you?

Do you enjoy active or passive activities outdoors?

What piques your curiosity or gets you excited?

What are your favourite nature outings?  They may be different than mine!

For me a nature walk (as you can see from the above list) is all about connection and discovery and slowing down to notice what is around you.  A nature walk can be done close to home, even on the edges of a park to see what wildlife and native and naturalized plants are part of your local environment.  And some of the best nature walk can be urban - getting you out in the elements and providing delight and reflection nearby.

So my recommendation on what to bring so as to benefit in the best way from these types of nature walks includes:

Your Curiosity

Connecting to nature and taking it all in is best done with a curious mind that is interested in exploring - both in terms of paths and directions and also in terms of taking a more detailed look at what is around you.  Ask yourself questions, look for interesting details, observe differences and invite your inquisitive side to join you on your outing.

A Sense of Playfulness

Nature provides a great opportunity to reconnect with your child-like wonder and fun side.  This can be another side of curiosity - experimenting and seeing things in a different light but it is also accessing your creative, spontaneous side.  If you are on your own or with a good friend/partner you can even sing, dance or act silly outside.  Think of fairies, imps, gnomes and other fantastic creatures that made life fun as a kid.  Find a fun hiding spot or look for a tree to climb!

An Open Heart 

Even if you forget to "bring" this you will probably find opportunities to connect to a more open heart.  Especially if you are at a walking pace and can slow down and really connect with all five senses.  An open heart will help you see how everything is interconnected, how the circle of life rejuvenates or at least bring a sliver of light to periods of sadness.  I like to look for signs of hope outside and touching the tangible - tree bark, soft blades of grass, water really helps to calm and ground and provide some peace.

A Desire to Slow Down 

When I'm going into nature, for me, if I want to get the most out of it, I need to bring my desire to slow down, to speak with more consideration (if I'm with friends) and to bring in mindfulness to help quiet my racing thoughts.  This can be the opposite of my sense of playfulness but if I allow time for both, it really allows for a richer connection and deeper satisfaction after my outing.  Nature offers this amazing opportunity to seek out stillness and peacefulness and I always want to spend a couple of minutes at least to let this seep in and resonate deeply.


Trusting that whatever unfolds is right for me in the moment is a big one.  Allowing the ebb and flow and not resisting is what I'm trying to bring to my daily life - not only in work but also in my personal life.  Having less expectations can make any outing better and asking myself questions about what the lesson is (of any good/bad experience) helps me reframe certain things so that they are easier to accept.  This doesn't of course mean that I should trust every scenario or every "thing" that I encounter (safety and caution is always foremost recommended!) but it does help to build optimism and provide a space for courage to grow.

And just in case you were hoping for specific recommendations of what resource, equipment to bring here are five things I'm always wishing I had if I find myself on a nature outing and NOT prepared:
  • My hand-held zoom camera or binoculars
  • A local plant identification book (or app)
  • Some water (I'm really trying to get better at being hydrated throughout the day)
  • Knowledge of the closest washroom (near the outing location)  :  )
  • A small knapsack with a towel or small sheet that I can use to rescue an animal (you never know!) and a plastic bag so I can pick up and dispose of the trash that I see.

You may also want to review these two Wild. Here. Explore posts that include a more detailed list and some outdoor tips:

Tips for Your Comfort and Safety

Urban Wild Explorer Pack List

Thanks so much Kathleen Rear for the question!  (And BTW - If you like modern faerie tales and urban fantasy novels - check out her website: Kathleen Rear Books!)

What do you bring on YOUR nature walks?  

Do you have any questions for me - feel free to email me with your thoughts and/or ideas for blog posts!

Photos 2 & 6 taken by V. Glazduri
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Cool Urban Nature Maps

I love meeting and finding other people who adore urban nature as much as I do.

One type of project that thrills me are visual maps that illustrate cities in this new way.  And it's not surprising that there are many to be found in England, with their BBC nature loving programming including Springwatch!  Here are a few - I hope they delight you as much as they delight me!


From Vicky Woodgate's website:

"Urban Jungle is a 38 city map book exploring the cities and the incredible wildlife found. Concept - authored - designed and illustrated by Vicky Woodgate and published by Big Picture Press an imprint of Templar."

Link to Vicky Woodgate's beautiful artwork and website.

Michael A. Hill from Maps Illustrated:

From Maps Illustrated website:

"2010 illustrated bespoke map of a walk around Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire."  (This one may not be exactly "urban", but the bird images are just so compelling!  I want to go for this walk just because I might run into a Kingfisher!)

Link to Maps Illustrated delightful maps and website.

Emma Metcalfe's Map of Colchester Cemetery

From Emma Metcalfe's website:

"The client required a bespoke map which would appeal to both casual visitors walking in the area and also those making a special trip to visit the grave of a loved one... The large format version includes a small selection of many wildlife species that live in the cemetery, including Mutjac deer, woodpeckers, bats and owls."

Link to Emma Metcalfe's lovely illustrations and blog.

Lost In London by Lucy Scott & Tina Smith

This one is a recent find and I have to thank goodreads for "recommending" it to me!  The map sits inside the front and back cover and illustrates where each of the chapters have been written.  You can read a few excerpts from Lost in London on Lucy Scott's website:

Mystic Marshes
Chasing the Wandle
Tidal Treasures

Photo of London map (illustrated by Tina Smith) on the inside cover of "Lost in London"

Oh and this reminds me a bit of the Wild Things Publishing Guides - which includes wild swimming, lost lanes and even tree climbing.  Oh Britain you inspire me so!

***All map design images are from the personal illustrators websites.

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The Best Kept Secret - Urban Hiking Joy!

I read this spring that "hiking will be surpassing yoga in popularity as the newest health trend" and I think that is super news!  I see more people sharing hiking photos on social media and I see new resources for hiking: women hiking groups, local hiking websites, hiking apps.  It seems like the message of "getting out" and "nature is good for you" has been heard and it's wonderful to know that more people are appreciating the benefits of nature and choosing this activity for their weekend fitness outing.

What I'd love to see would be one small tweak to this - I'd love to see URBAN hiking becoming a trend!
hiking (ˈhaɪ.kɪŋ):  is an outdoor (sporting) activity which consists of long, vigorous walks in natural environments (on trails or footpaths), often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. (Link)
I cobbled this together from a couple of definitions.  Most used the word "countryside" to describe the environment.  One included "wooded areas".  Almost all indicated that it is a LONG walk or great distance, with two using strenuous or vigorous (Is this because some walks are uphill or because they are meant to be long and tiring?).  I wanted to include the word "sporting" due to the fact that hiking IS seen by many as a sport, whereas "walking" isn't - as one of the definitions confirms.

Wikipedia goes on to say that "walking is used for shorter, particularly urban walks" in Canada and the United States, whereas the term "walking" is acceptable to describe all forms (and distances) of walking in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland including our North American "hiking".

So if we take out "countryside" and consider that we can do a long vigorous walk in the city that can even offer us scenic terrain, urban hiking becomes an option.  And in many cities this can even be possible in natural environments if there are bike paths along rivers or lakes or in larger wooded areas.  Check out three examples of people who are doing some urban hiking on my Wild. Here. Walking Post from last month.

-- Beautiful scenery on an early morning urban hike.  --

So why is the Joy of Urban Hiking the best kept secret?  Here are 7 reasons:

You don't need all day to do it. No long drives, consulting confusing trail maps and looking for trailheads in unfamiliar areas.  Urban hiking can be done close to home and a two-hour hike can be done in two hours!

There are no busy parking lots. As countryside hiking becomes more popular and weekend warriors are looking for their next nature fix, you won't have to be fighting for the last parking spot for miles.

You won't encounter masses of people.  Yes, hiking is a great way to get away from it all and to escape the busy-ness of the city, but isn't it frustrating to go seek solitude and then find big groups of people in the parking lots, at the picnic ares and all vying for that one shot of the scenic view?  Yes, I have found many trails in the city that aren't busy and many greenspaces, where it's just me and the occasional dog walker.  It could just be Ottawa (does no one want to go outside here? Or maybe they are all going to Gatineau Park!) but you may be surprised to find less people on urban trails than you had anticipated!

Easily accessible peaceful spots - whenever you want, need or desire a visit.  Your favourite nature spots can be right here, close by in the city, rather than a two hour drive away that are only accessible on the weekend.  (Have you ever done a meditation where they ask you to imagine your favourite space in nature?  Well you don't have to imagine it - you can go visit it any time you want!)

-- Peaceful spot along the Ottawa River Parkway --

Your hike can be as strenuous or easy as you wish.  Urban hiking can offer paved, flat trails; stone dust paths along large rivers and even boardwalk "hikes" through marshes.  Some even offer benches where you can rest and enjoy the view.  What's not to like about that?  This is especially beneficial for those who have mobility challenges, as they can still enjoy longer walks at their speed and easy access to nature (in the city) thanks to paved paths, scenic spots and lots of benches.

Transit-accessible nature. If you don't have a car, hiking in the city is a great options and you get to contribute less greenhouse gas emissions (compared to the emissions to drive outside the city to go for a hike).

Train your mind to accept distractions. This is one of the biggest arguments people have about wanting to connect with nature outside the city.  They are seeking pristine nature far outside the city that can offer them that opportunity to escape, to get away from noise, to find peace & quiet.  I equate urban hiking to practicing yoga off the mat, or to what those at meditation retreats are reminded of: the real practice begins at home when you get back to the real world.  I find the more that I can enjoy nature wherever it is, the more peaceful my daily life in the city can be.

BONUS: The probability of your favourite coffee shop, juice bar or eatery being close by is higher!  Enjoy a super treat right after your hike - it's well deserved and we all enjoy a sweet, tasty reward every once in awhile right?


Read these Six Tips to Make Your Urban Nature Hiking Outing More Enjoyable (found at the bottom of the Wild. Here. April Walking post).

And read this Urban Wild Exploring Three Part series that will help you find urban green spaces to explore in your own city - start here: Urban Wild Exploring - Finding New Places - Part One.

All photos by Viliam Glazduri (Instagram, Flickr, 500 px) Contributing Creative to Wild. Here.

-- You never know what you will find! --

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Horse Chestnut: The Overlooked Spring Bloom that should take Centre Stage!

Confession time: I didn't know what a Horse Chestnut was until I had one in my backyard.  The first house I purchased was a small urban lot and I moved in that summer.  There were a couple of shrubs in my front yard and one mid-sized tree that had unique leaves plus a large Maple in my backyard.  So it wasn't until next spring that I looked in my backyard and thought:

What is that amazing tropical bloom that has just appear in my yard?

It's incredible to see a floral bloom so colourful and large in a country that is well known for its snow.  Snow that covers our land for at least four months.  You would think that nothing that big and beautiful would be able to bloom in the short season we have up here.  But I've been surprised with some of our various native flowers over the years and here was a native tree that seemed to want to hold a LUAU!

While the only native species of this tree is VERY rare in Canada, it is not uncommon to see Horse Chestnuts (or Buckeyes) in various Canadian urban centres.  It's a great mid-sized tree that offers some eye-catching details, so how is this tree overlooked?  There are Lilac Collection tours to various arboretums and Cherry Blossom Festivals and everyone talks about Magnolia blooms but I just don't hear much talk about Horse Chestnuts here in Canada.  Why are there not more people raving about the beauty of Horse Chestnut blooms?  Why is there no Horse Chestnut festival here in the province?

Maybe it's because it has no heady scent?  Perhaps it's the misleading name or maybe it IS because they are rather rare and prefer milder zones.  Or it could be that if you don't catch their 1 - 2 week bloom, they don't stand out that much and they just become part of the green backdrop.  (Except perhaps when the Horse Chestnut's round nuts (also called conkers) drop!)  For whatever reason - this tree seems to continually be overlooked which I think needs to change!

Here are some great facts about this tree:
  • The only Horse Chestnut species (Aesculus) that is native to Canada is the Aesculus Glabra: the Ohio Buckeye which has only been documented to grow wild in Canada on Wapole Island.  That's rare!  (Ontario Trees)
  • Preferred habitats include moist to mesic deciduous woodlands, wooded valleys along rivers and rocky wooded slopes in sheltered areas.  At optimal sites larger Ohio Buckeye trees have been found exceeding 21.3 metres (70 feet). (Illinois Wildflowers)
  • This is a tree that prefers temperate climates and there are four types found in North America - including a shrub variety. (Encyclopedia)  
  • Their blooms can be 10 to 30 centimeters tall, with colours including whites, yellows (the colour of the Ohio Buckeye flowers), oranges, pinks and scarlet. (Kentucky Dept of Horticulture
  • The blooms are pollinated by Hummingbirds and long-tongues bees (such as Bumblebees, Mason Bees and Anthrophorine Bees) and the tree provides nutrients for various insects including Lace Bugs, Beetles and Aphids and squirrels which sometimes feed on the sweet pith of the twigs. (Illinois Wildflowers)

Have you noticed this tree while walking around town?  

What do you think - is it worthy of some extra notice?

For those in Ottawa there is a wonderful collection of Horse Chestnuts in the Dominion Arboretum!

You can see where there location is in this map: Nut Trees of the Dominion Arboretum (Ottawa).  (They are marked in yellow on the map.)  These trees bloom in late May so if you have a chance one evening this week or on the weekend, I recommend visiting them to enjoy their beauty!  I find them truly impressive and it is definitely worth a trip to see the various species at the Arboretum.

You May Also Like:

Crabapples: The Flowering Tree Everyone Loves to Hate (Not!)  (May 2017)

Spring Blooms in London (Ontario) - A Walk Along the Thames River (April 2017)

The World Within One Tree - Weekly Dose of Wild (September 2015)

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Let us Help YOU Connect to Nature in your City!

Urban walking path under shade trees Wild Here

It was our two year anniversary for this blog last month!  

I started writing the newest version of this blog in May 2016.  And with two years of posts, there is now quite the library of articles to help you connect with nature in your city.

Yes the nearby nature that is easy to access, every day, close to home.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that connecting to nature doesn't mean that you have to go on a long hike on the weekend outside your city.  There is tons of wild - here - right at your doorstep and it can provide you with the same type of wonderful nature (Vitamin N) benefits that getting out of the city can.

Yes it can!  The green right inside your city has Vitamin N also.

That's how the name for the business came to be:  I wanted to inspire more people to connect with the wild "here", as opposed to the wild that people seek "there" - away from the city, outside the urban environment.

Yes - there IS wild right here!  And we want you to connect to it!

Friendly Wildlife that you see in the city

So how does this Wild. Here. website help you connect to nature?

And for those in Ottawa or visiting the city, the Wild. Here. website also offers:

And last, but certainly not least: 

Thank you so much for being here and joining out urban nature loving community!  

We want to be creating resources and writing about topics that YOU are interested in, so let us know in this short two-minute survey online:

Gulls and Ducks seen on Urban Pathway along Refreshing River

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