Thursday, June 02, 2016

Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life by Richard Louv

Richard Louv's book Vitamin N is full of fun activities with nature as the essential ingredient. Combine one part sensory awareness with one part physical experience, toss in a handful of Mother Nature's elements, and a sprinkling of biodiversity. Set aside five to ten minutes (or more!) every day to let this concoction assimilate.

I recommend Vitamin N for anyone who wants to have a more balanced life, tipping the scales from a built environment to indulge your biological need to be in touch with nature. With some of the ideas in this book, you can take the initiative to meet up with family, friends or community outdoors.

Louv, who also wrote Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, is the co-founder of the Children and Nature Network. If you can’t find something you would like to do to connect with nature from the 500 activities he offers in Vitamin N, check out the list of 150+ books and resources he lists at the back of the book for more ideas.

One of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness in the outdoors is visiting what Louv calls a “sit spot" or, a special place in nature. Children or adults can find a sit spot and, the idea is, get to know it. By day, night, winter, summer. Know what birds or trees live and grow there. Experience how your corner of nature changes seasonally.

For younger children and the more adventurous, I recommend Louv’s “belly hike” activity. Kids can get down low, inch along on their bellies, observing crawly things.

Here is something I want to try: growing a radish in a balloon. According to Louv, when you put water, dirt and a few radish seeds inside a balloon, blow it up and hang it in the sunlight, the balloon acts as a greenhouse. If you can’t go outside, bring nature in, through activities and books.

I agree with Louv, that “libraries are the perfect, if unexpected, institution to connect people to nature.”

Locally, there are many zones for exploring nature—trails, beaches, backyards and libraries!

If you like Vitamin N, check out Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life. It’s a documentary on DVD about hospitals, schools, offices and neighborhoods that incorporate nature to increase physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Both titles are available at the Virginia Beach Public Library.
Review by Sandi H.

One of my "sit spots"

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