Travel

A Sense of Wellbeing Among the Trees in Mendocino County, CA

On a winter afternoon in Little River, California, I squished along a fog-kissed trail while Alison Gardner (a.k.a. Barefoot Alison), an avid mushroom hunter, regaled me with facts about the diverse flora. Ostensibly we were practicing shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, a meditative immersion in nature devised in Japan that has proved effective at improving well-being. “It’s not a brain thing,” Gardner told me. “It’s an experience thing.”

Forest bathing typically entails a snail-slow walk in the woods, but Mendo-style mindfulness takes many forms, and in between hugging the bishop pines and running my hands over the wild ginger, I kept asking questions. I learned that you can chew turkey tail mushrooms like bubble gum, that chickweed tastes like pea shoots, and that the thing that looks like a carrot top needs to be avoided because it’s hemlock, and if it killed Socrates, it can kill you too. Read more…

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