As I mentioned in part 1 of this blog series, I’m a big fan of the gift of time together. So whether you take one of these ideas or simply use them to inspire your own, the important thing is to just go have fun together! And don’t forget, it’s always lovely to give the gift of a donation to one of the causes that your Valentine supports. The non-profit can always use your support, and it’s a wonderful feeling.
Here are my TOP 10 ideas of the perfect day spent with your nature-, bird-, or animal-loving Valentine. There’s likely so much to explore together in your local area.
Idea #1: Plan a picnic in a local park or at the beach. You can even create a picnic theme – maybe it’s a typical lunch, or perhaps it’s just dessert. Either way, YUM!! (Too cold? Grab some blankets, hot cocoa and picnic in your car in a nice setting!)
Idea #2: Are you near a rocky shoreline? Tidepooling is a fun activity that gives you the benefit of that salt air, and satisfies the need for new experiences – no two tidepools are alike. Explore the creatures you find within...
Idea #3: Fancy a hike? There are typically ample parks around your area. Ground covered in snow? How about bundling up and snowshoeing (rent them if you don't have them already) out amidst nature...
Idea #4: Enjoy being out on the water? How about a guided kayak tour, a sailboat excursion, a whale watch, or even Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP) lessons
Idea #5: Plan a trip to the local Botanical Gardens – explore what’s in bloom, what birds are visiting, and just generally enjoy being together among the beauty
Too cold for outdoor activities where you live? No problem! Here are a few for indoors:
Idea #6: Take a walk through an Arboretum enjoying what's growing inside
Idea #7: Find an IMAX, library, local Audubon Society or related gathering or MeetUp of birdwatchers, nature lovers, and others to enjoy a special program on nature
Idea #8: Visit a museum celebrating some aspect of nature, or rent a movie (Netflix, Redbox, or elsewhere) to explore a nature topic of interest together.
Idea #9: Visit a winery in which you can look out onto gardens even during winter, while snuggling over a nice glass of wine
Idea #10: If all else fails, plan for a drive in nature, complete with snacks for the ride(!), exploring a new location and enjoying the scenery. The important thing is that you’re together doing it. So make the most of this special time -
Other things to notice when planning your activity:
Are there migrating birds, whales, seals, or other animals in your area this time of year? You will see different birds in your area, depending upon the season. Some are there only a short time, others year-round. Are any of the animals changing in some way this time of year?
Now, some of you are bound to be thinking, “I want to go bigger”. Good for you! You’re definitely into planning and if you’re going to plan it by this Valentine’s Day, I would suggest you need to start working on it ASAP. Otherwise, certainly a “promise note” of surprise this Valentine’s Day for a future trip is just as exciting – and allows the two of you to plan it together. See part 3 of my Valentine’s blog for some "big" ideas based on my own personal experiences.
Meanwhile, if you’re sticking closer to home, enjoy planning your day! Relax and unwind in nature together. And enjoy the inspiration from my own nature experiences featured in my Valentine’s cards, products, and photographs for this and many other occasions.
Whatever you do, wherever you go, here’s wishing you and your special someone a wonderful Valentine’s Day…
That tell-tale white.....that large presence on the tree branch. I forget for a moment that I'm in my kayak, as I blissfully look up in admiration at this beautiful, enormous bird of prey in my view. How lucky are we to live in an area where we can see Bald Eagles - and witness them up close. I have friends who live on the Chickahominy River in Virginia and can look out their kitchen window to see the Bald Eagles landing in the trees along their property. While I don't have them right in my backyard, we are fortunate to be able to simply drive to the local Reservoir and revel in their presence. Today, I feel like the paparazzi. There's a slight wind and while I'm looking through the lens at the object of my fascination, I've managed to get closer than I realized. I paddle back away from the shoreline so that I can give this beauty his space. Then I continue on. Until we meet again around another bend. And so it continues. Finally by the end of the morning, I've officially declared myself an albeit accidental paparazzi and I make a concerted effort not to show up in the same place at the same time again. ;-) Read more about the Bald Eagle's resurgence in the Bay Area here....
You may not know about what the appearance of a Bald Eagle may mean to you. But for many years I have followed the Shamans' view of nature - that each random appearance has meaning in itself. For the Bald Eagle, there is a beautiful reference to its meaning and its history here. The fact that the sighting of a Bald Eagle has meaning for us to stretch ourselves - beyond what we may not know that we're capable of - has special meaning for me at this time at work. This sighting - or the many this particular day - certainly give me pause. I reflect on its meaning and have a profound awareness of it. I share my gratitude to the eagles who have shown up for me today....and each time that I see one.
I have come to this particular Reservoir many times in the past and am not always fortunate to see a Bald Eagle. I have, however, had them fly over me "randomly" as I travel the 3 hours from Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia to my family's home south of there. Each time, I pause. Reflect. And each time it resonates, having meaning to what is happening in my life at that given time.
What special times have you had in nature most recently? Did you stop to notice something that you've never seen before? Being present in nature has many gifts for us, not the least of which is the opportunity to center ourselves, get grounded, and meet the day anew. As Buddha said, "If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change." Aspire to bring more nature into your life - and watch what happens.....