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Riverside Nature Center Herb Garden

This shumard oak is among many trees, herbs and grasses identified by plaques at the Riverside Nature Center's herb garden in Farmington, New Mexico.
Shumard oak at the Riverside Nature Center's herb garden.

The city of Farmington, New Mexico, has a wonderful herb garden at the Riverside Nature Center. There are lots of herbs, grasses and trees growing there, and all are identified with special plaques. Other cities may have similar resources as well. If you live somewhere else, ask the local Chamber of Commerce or visitors center if your city has something like it.

 

If you live in or near Farmington and want a peaceful, enjoyable and educational place to take family, friends or visitors, the Riverside Nature Center is a great place to go. And it's free! Turn off Browning Parkway into the municipal complex that contains some city offices, the regional animal shelter and the Riverside Nature Center. Follow the signs to a parking lot near the nature center. Don't be surprised if you see deer or chickens walking near the trail.

 

At the center, you can ask for a handout of all the herbs growing in the herb garden. There's a xeriscape garden nearby too. The handout even has recipes for making an herb blend and one that combines tomatoes with a variety of herbs. There's a recipe for lavender-lemon cookies and another one for apricot lavender jam. You will see some different kinds of lavender growing in the herb garden.

 

Plan to spend an hour or more walking among the herbs, grasses and trees that grow in the herb garden. There is a lot to see! Well-marked trails take you on pathways through the garden. If you get tired, there are tables and benches not far away where you can rest.

 

When some friends and I recently toured the herb garden, we felt so relaxed. Being near all that natural beauty has a way of calming you.

 

A visit to the herb garden gets even better if you add a visit to the nature center itself. It's in a building with lots of exhibits and even has some interactive things to do. You can select some mementoes of your trip at the gift shop. Sometimes you'll find used books at a very cheap price there. For more information, call the center at 505-599-1422.

 

If you want to stay a little longer, head over to the nearby regional animal shelter. Ask if you can take one of the dogs for a walk. The shelter relies on volunteers to help them walk the dogs waiting for someone to adopt them. The animal shelter is not far from the Animas River, where there are wonderful walkways built along the river. They meander near the water for a few miles through town.

 

If you're looking for something to do this month when the weather is still comfortably cool, try the nature center and its surroundings. It's an activity that your whole family can enjoy together.

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Noticing the Sights and Sounds of Nature

Purple flowers begin to show themselves through the leaves of a grape hyacinth
Grape hyacinth starting to bloom

I was standing in my front yard on Easter Sunday, looking up at the large juniper tree beside my driveway. Birds bounced from branch to branch, singing their trilling songs. I watched the birds, intrigued by how easily they hopped through the tree. I listened to their intricate melodies.

 

All the little and big things that had been vying for attention in my mind took a back seat to the tree and the birds. Through the branches, I could see the neighbors across the street. They were having an Easter egg hunt in their front yard. The father lifted his toddler up to peer into the fork of a tall tree. The child's hand reached out and grasped an egg hidden there for him to find.

 

I listened to the excited voices of the children as they found treasures in the grass, behind rocks, and tucked next to the driveway. It was an idyllic scene. I came away from it, feeling refreshed after being around trees, birds, and a young family on an Easter egg hunt.

 

Taking time to enjoy the trees and the bird sounds in my own yard is a great way to de-stress. I don't spend much time doing that, but I may try to enjoy nature in my yard more than I have been. It has such a calming effect and puts things into better perspective.

 

The things I often stress over don't seem quite as stressful when I take time to listen to the sounds of nature around me and watch trees sway in a gentle wind.

 

Why don't we take more time to do things like that? Listening to nature's sounds are known to be good for our health because of the calming effect they have on us. For me, part of it is that I get so busy I don't think I have time to stop for a few minutes to listen to sounds around me and see the beauty of nature.

 

I did take a few minutes this morning to look at the plants starting to green up in the flower bed by my side door. A grape hyacinth was pushing up its purple blossoms. A rose bush sprouted new green leaves. A tulip lifted tall green blades toward the sky. And birds sang as they flitted in a spruce tree in my back yard.

 

When I went back inside after spending just a few minutes enjoying nature, I had more energy to tackle the tasks that awaited me. Everything seemed a little easier to do. Those few minutes spent paying attention to the beauty of nature around me weren't wasted time. I accomplished more in less time – just because I took a few moments to relax and notice, really notice, the loveliness around me.

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