On a beautiful sunny September 29, 2018, Green Spaces for DC sponsored a series of walks while ParkRx America and other community groups participated in Rock Creek Park Day on the grounds of the Rock Creek Park Nature Center. Board members and volunteers helped to man a booth, explain to visitors about our friend and partner organizations, record numbers of participants in the day’s events and join in some of the activities. One was a bird walk, led by U.S. National Park Service Ranger Anthony Linforth. The group was introduced to birding with a lesson in binocular use, then led into the park where they learned about listening and looking for birds. Among the species spotted and identified on the walk were a red-bellied woodpecker, a turkey vulture, a cardinal, a blue jay and a robin. A migrating flock of raptors presented another lesson when the ranger was able to identify numerous hawks and a juvenile bald eagle.
The day also featured Forest Bathing, a meditative nature walk led by trained guide Toby Bloom. She explained how the practice of shinrin-yoku originated in Japan in the 1980s as a stress-reliever for overworked urban employees suffering declining health from constantly being indoors and under too much pressure. Forest Bathing encourages walkers in nature to slow their pace, carefully observe, touch and listen to the plants and objects, textures and sounds around them — and to share their thoughts about what they’re experiencing along the way. The unique wander in Rock Creek Park ended with a simple seated tea ceremony and snacks as the walkers exchanged ideas about how the walk altered their awareness of nature.