Monday, March 3, 2008

Part One of the Intentional Tourist: Backyard Betty!

Join us for a series of blogs entitled, "The Intentional Tourist," where we will explore the concept of eco-friendly travel in an effort to find balance between our personal need to "get away" or seek adventure outside our regular routine, while remaining conscious of the environmental impacts that we may create.

We begin the travel series by stepping into our own backyard. Literally.

I mean leave your computer and go outside right now (ok it may be dark and cold, but you get the idea)!

Sometimes we are so busy noticing the green grass over there, we forget to look right under our feet. So here is a list of fun activities that can connect you to nature, right in your own backyard. This list is in order of easiest to more time-intensive.

1- Take a good old-fashioned walk around the block (or if you live close enough to hope on the Rivanna Trail or another trail, even better)

2- Creative cloud gazing. Directions: Lay on back, enjoy the perspective this offers of the beautiful sky (this is much more fun with kids!), start finding bubbling white Guinness or firey dragons.

3- Get dirty! Gardening is one of the best ways to connect with the earth. Breathe in the smell of dirt and fondle the dirt that provides home to worms, roots, vegetables, bunny rabbits and more!

4 - Go on a bug hunt(or biggest stick hunt or most variety of colored leaves hunt). I always feel it's ok to tote home that (sacrificial) earthworm, knowing that my kids are learning about the underground dwellers we often forget about.

5- Meditate outside. Clear your mind, witness the simplicity and power of deep breaths that offer consciousness to each of the billions of cells in your body.

6- Go fly a kite. With small branches (or 3 plastic straws), scissors, tape, a plastic garbage bag (hopefully you'll have a hard time finding this one in your house), and some string, you can make a great kite. Check out this site:

7- Construct a bird house. An easy version can be found at is to drill a hole through a gourd big enough for the bird (To invite a house wren, choose a gourd at least 4" in diameter, and make a 1" hole.
-carolina wren or chickadee: 5" gourd, 1&1/8" hole.
-tufted titmouse, downy woodpecker or nuthatch: 5" gourd, 1&1/4" hole.
-small owl, bluebird, tree swallow, or hairy woodpecker:
5" gourd, 1&1/2" hole.
- flicker: 7" gourd, 2&1/2" hole.
-purple martin: 8" to 13" gourd, 2&1/2" hole), hollow it out. Find a branch to place under the hole, apply some no-voc paint, and you're good to go!


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