Get out in Nature
Twenty years ago this month, I set out for Oregon, and I stayed 15 years before moving back home to southern California with a PhD, a husband and two kids. Last month my family and I spent two weeks driving around the northwest, visiting our favorite people and places. One thing I miss about living in the Pacific Northwest is that it seemed easier, there, to get out into nature—even if you did need a rain poncho most days of the year. The Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood and the rest of the Cascades, the wild Oregon coast and the green hills of the Willamette Valley—they all lie within a couple hours’ drive from Portland. And laid out across Portland’s west hills is Forest Park, the largest natural forested area within a U.S. city. Like many Portlandians, I spent many hours hiking its muddy trails and bombing down Leif Erikson Drive on my mountain bike. Places with more trees than people and more wildlife than street traffic are harder to come by here in the Los Angeles basin, where suburbs sprawl from Simi Valley to San Diego. And we’re not alone here—about half the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and that number is expected to climb to 70% by 2050. But wherever you live, natural places are worth seeking out. Research has shown that your mental health may depend on it: a rise in mental illness has been... Read more »