I’m in the Pennsylvania Wilds staying at The Nature Inn, a small eco-lodge tucked into the foothills across from Bald Eagle Mountain in Center County, where the forests are thick, the mountains are high and endless and the valleys are Happy–as in Happy Valley/Penn State. The campus is some 20 miles away. There’s sure to be hustle and bustle there tonight, but I want none of it. I’m a culture vulture on the fly with my husband, who grew up nearby, and we’re here for a family reunion and a major dose of R&R.
We look for any excuse to come back to The Nature Inn. This is our third visit in one year’s time, and we never tire of the greenness and the bounty of natural beauty. The expansive lobby windows, back porch, downstairs patio–and half of the Inn’s rooms–give visitors “the view” that invites you to sit and never leave. Below the Inn’s patio stretches a meadow rich with native grasses and plants that gives way to the lake, the Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir, and then the mountain. It’s a birdwatching haven. It’s a haven, period, even if you don’t cast an eye to the skies to spot bald eagles. This place offers peace, a place to kick back, or if you’re like me, to kick up on a sturdy porch rail.
So what do you do here? You can boat, fish, swim, kayak, grill, picnic or walk along the butterfly trail. Me? I specialize in coming here to do nothing. Yes, I will walk, but I prefer to dominate a porch chair with diet cola and reading material in hand and just gaze. Take some photos. Read. Gaze again.
And I’m very good at this slothfulness. So imagine my delight today while reading the Wall Street Journal. Turns out that soaking up nature is actually good for our brains. Here’s what staffer Jonah Lehrer reports:
“According to the latest research, untamed landscapes have a restorative effect, calming our frazzled nerves and refreshing our cortex. After a brief exposure to the outdoors, people are more creative, happier and better able to focus. If there were a pill that delivered these same results, we’d all be popping it.”
S E E? All of my nothing is everything! But enough for now. This view is smacking me in the face, and no computer screen can match it. The birds are singing, the water is shimmering, and my brain, turns out, is at the spa. Ahhhhhhh.