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March … to Nature’s Rhythm

Embracing the gifts of the natural world


Ask anyone what their least favourite month is and chances are March will be high on the list. Depending on what the weather throws at us, it can be more bleak than blossom, our doors still shut though we’re itching to bust them wide open. If winter feels like an annual rite of passage, then March is the final leg of it.

How, then, do we make peace with this month? Regular connection with the natural world is one powerful strategy.

Registered psychologist Sam Kriviak advises looking to nature as a model for being gentle with ourselves and the seasonal changes we experience in mood, energy, and productivity. “All species ebb and flow with the seasons in northern climates. The more connected we can be to nature, I think, the more we notice that our March will likely look and feel very different from our July or our October ... and that’s okay!”


Be attentive

Simply locating ourselves in relation to Earth’s cycles can help us appreciate this time of year in a new light. Longstanding practices in your region, such as tapping of sugar maples or migratory bird counts, offer clues to the seasonal shifts happening around you.

Do your own ancestral traditions offer a way to recognize this transitional month? And don’t forget to mark the spring equinox, either contemplatively or through a shared celebration such as a potluck, campfire, or walk with friends.


Engage in comfort

Direct contact with nature can be had even from a comfortable place indoors. Whether you’re eating, napping, or getting a little work done, position yourself where sunbeams are entering your home and soak them up.

An indoor vermicomposting set-up allows kids to engage hands-on with nutrient cycling and live critters—plus, the resulting worm castings are pure gold for house and garden plants. Visiting an indoor botanical garden, zoo, or natural history exhibit exposes us to plants and animals outside our local realm (without exposing us to the local weather!).


Get out there

Nothing can perk us up quite like getting outside and imbibing the medicine of the natural world through our senses. Kriviak suggests letting nature be your guide to what’s going to be enjoyable.

“For me, running in cold, dry air is very painful for my lungs, but bundling up with a scarf and putting on some ice cleats for a forest walk feels much more comfortable,” says Kriviak. “I have also found that having activities I can only do in certain seasons (like walking on the frozen-over creek) helps me to appreciate those seasons more.” Anything that gets your heart pumping is bound to bring you home warm and invigorated.

Or stroll at your kids’ pace, using an app to identify birds by their song or guessing which tree or plant you’re looking at based solely on its bark or dried seed heads. Allow your young ones to snap photos of whatever piques their interest; they have fascinating and refreshing perspectives.

Collect items such as leaves, cones, and feathers to be fashioned into a seasonal centerpiece or mandala once you’re back home. And it’s not cheating to soak in outdoor hot springs, should you have some nearby!


Use your head

Even when the weather truly relegates us to the indoors, nature can work its magic through our imaginations. Children might enjoy drawing what all the underground life is up to this time of year: roots, worms, and microbes still slumbering or beginning to stir and wake.

Nature-based books and board games can be captivating and educational, no matter our age. And guided meditations with a nature focus, readily available online for both children and adults, are a perfect March tonic immersing us, via imagination, in the natural world while acting as a balm for our winter-weary spirits.


Plan ahead

Finally, Kriviak suggests planning ahead to make next year a little easier, taking cues from those animals that hibernate or stockpile: “Can you book some time off of work? Can meal prepping in the fall save you some energy in the winter?” Let’s use whatever tools we can to make these 31 shoulder season days fruitful in their own way. Now, what to do about November …


Get a jump on spring

March happens to be the ideal time to begin many plants indoors, giving them a head start on the growing season. Not only is planting seeds an inherently optimistic act, but the fresh seedlings bring us some much-needed green company—a colour credited, among other things, with increasing our creativity.

Nothing more than a south-facing window (barring this, consider grow lights), seeds, and a seed-starting mix are needed. Do right by the earth and use repurposed materials as pots—anything from newspaper and toilet paper rolls to produce clamshells and yogurt cups will do. For best germination, use a clear plant tray cover or some other improvised way to keep the soil warm and humid. Then watch as the promise of summer tomatoes, herbs, and flowers takes root!


It only takes a month

Participants in a large UK study committed to some form of nature-based activity every day for a month. The result was an increase in nature connectedness, health, happiness, and conservation behaviours that lasted well past the 30 days.


This article was originally published in the March 2024 issue of alive magazine.



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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD