It's only natural


I was scrolling through Facebook the other day when a friend’s post caught my eye. A biochemist named Dr Joe Dispenza said that in clinical trials he’s proven that two hours of “nature sounds” a day helps reduce stress hormones by up to 800%. Eight hundred percent! Now, I’ve been pretty stressed out lately, particularly because I keep hearing conflicting info about bacon either being perfectly fine or a killer food, and bacon is the lone thing that stands between me and vegetarianism and I really, really don’t want to give it up. So anyway, I decided to go immerse myself in nature and see if I could take a brain break from the whole “My love of bacon might kill me” thing.

Although nature is beautiful, I usually only go willingly into the great outdoors when there are a) a guarantee of no mozzies, b) flush toilets somewhere nearby, and c) no chance of a sunburn. (Side note: These three requirements are the reason I’ve never taken my kids camping. That is what their dad is for.)

But the idea of an 800% reduction in my stress hormones was super-appealing, so I loaded Miss Five Months into her pram and headed to the Auckland Domain. It’s a beautiful place, with lovely paved footpaths and shady trees and a duck pond and an ice-cream kiosk. They were setting up for the Chinese Lantern Festival, which I have never attended because small children + crowds = stress. There were pretty lanterns strung up in the trees and displays along the walkways, and Miss Five Months’ eyes were wide as she took in all the sights. Everywhere tourists were taking photos and kids were running squealing through the greenery and someone was playing a ukelele.

All of this was quite exciting, but I was on a mission to locate nature sounds. So we wandered along the footpath until we came to a sign that pointed to Lovers’ Lane in one direction and I can’t remember what in the other direction. What I do remember is thinking that Lovers’ Lane seemed very romantic but again, I was looking for nature sounds, and didn’t want to inadvertently stumble upon, well, the kinds of sounds that lovers make.

So I went along the other pathway until I came to another signpost, this one pointing to a cherry tree grove. As it’s summer the trees were green rather than blossoming, but it was deserted and far enough away from the main footpath that I was bound to hear some of those elusive nature sounds.

So I off-roaded with the pram until we reached the cherry grove, then I spread a blanket on the ground and Miss Five Months and I lay down and looked up at the leaves. It was a beautiful sunny day but we were well in the shade, and after a little while the baby fell asleep, so I covered her up and commenced listening for nature sounds.

Leaves rustling, breeze blowing, birds chirping… Ah, this was it! Nature sounds! Now I just needed to listen to them for two hours and my stress hormone levels would be so low I’d practically float back home.

I closed my eyes as the baby snuffled in her sleep… And woke up when her little hand smacked me in the face. My eyes snapped open and she grinned toothlessly at me, well-rested and wide awake, and then she smacked me again, except this time she also grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked.

So there I was, in nature, head throbbing, face smarting, with the dawning realisation that I’d fallen asleep for God knows how long and missed out on my two hours of nature sounds. Unless… Maybe I heard the nature sounds in my sleep? Would that count toward the stress hormone reduction theory? Hey, at least I got a nap in.

What I’m reading this week: Freeks, by Amanda Hocking (MacMillan $19.99)

I’m pretty sure this is meant to be a YA novel, but I don’t care, I’ll read almost anything. And the plot of this book sucked me in straightaway. It’s 1982, and Mara rolls into the town of Cauldry, Louisiana, with the travelling carnival she calls home. Some of her fellow “carnies” have supernatural powers, and in the insular world of the carnival, they’re welcome and comfortable in a way the outside world will never show them. When Mara meets a local boy, Gabe, she feels a connection that will be hard to leave behind when the carnival moves on — and as their relationship develops, so too does Mara’s awareness that Cauldry isn’t quite what it seems. This well-paced thriller is intense and original — I raced through it, desperate to know what secrets Mara would uncover.

Have a great week
Katherine Granich

Scroll to Top