By Chris Smith ~
“Go play outside and don’t come back until lunchtime,” mom used to say each summer.
We didn’t know then that she was planting seeds for healthy growth and development, insatiable curiosity, and a lifelong appreciation of nature.
Flash forward to the present. You can still find me on any given day exploring the outdoors, getting some exercise, and, ever-curious, looking up plants on iNaturalist during a hike.
Granted, I work in environmental communications, so getting outside is part of my career. But it’s worth stating again and again to whoever will listen.
Simple, right? Yet without a directive from mom, perhaps you need a gentle nudge? Consider this your nudge.
Certainly, we are pandemic-weary and the return to normalcy is taking some time. But what’s stopping you from enjoying the fresh air? It’s spring. It’s warmer, and sunshine provides both much-needed Vitamin D and, I daresay, a positive mental lift.
In Fort Worth, we’re fortunate to have nearly 300 parks, 40 miles of trails, and other beautiful outdoor spaces encouraging outdoor activity. Two of my favorite places are the Fort Worth Botanic Garden | Botanical Research Institute of Texas (FWBG|BRIT) and the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. [Full disclosure: I am on the staff of FWBG|BRIT and on the board of the Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center.]
The Nature Center offers scenic wetland views from the Lotus Marsh Boardwalk and Greer Island that are fairly short, easy walks. If you crave longer treks in the woods, there are plenty of paths to choose from in this 3,621-acre natural oasis with 20 miles of hiking trails. One of my favorites is Canyon Ridge Trail with its winding upward paths and a rewarding summit overlooking Lake Worth. Be sure to see one of the signature attractions: The bison herd.
For those preferring a more manicured scene, May and June are when the botanic garden is at full bloom. This 110-acre campus offers stunning garden views, exciting exhibits, gift shops, a café, and more. Spend the day strolling through the Japanese Garden with its koi-filled pools, sculptured hillsides, crafted stonework, and dramatic waterfalls. Nearby, visit the iconic Rose Garden, with a terraced ramp featuring paths that wind past colorful flower beds amidst a cascade of water down the center.
As mentioned elsewhere in this publication, the botanic garden is currently offering two exciting exhibits with the price of general admission. Stickwork (through 2022) is an original outdoor sculpture consisting of bent and woven twigs and saplings. It invites a shaded, one-of-a-kind experience. Watch the recently released documentary short film before you go to learn more about the artist’s concept.
And, May 6 through Aug. 1, bring the family to Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects Made with LEGO Bricks. The 15-piece exhibition encourages a walk through the outdoor campus to see amazing sculptures made from LEGO bricks. Through captivating art and an educational message, this exhibition offers one more reason to get outside, breathe in fresh air, and brighten your mood!