A 5 year study in Chicago showed residents in areas with more trees and greenery, were friendlier to neighbors and less likely to be violent than residents surrounded by pavement.

Like Judy Collins’ song, when you ‘Pave Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot’, people suffer, along with Mother Nature.

We now live in the country, and sure, there are probably Hatfield and McCoy disputes- but once you get past the hustle and bustle of the urban /suburban sprawl and into the country, the “Rural Wave” takes over.

When we first moved to No. Va 21 years ago, I thought everyone was sooo friendly because they were waving all the time!  It was summer, and in reality, hands  were raised, not in a cheery salutation, but in a desperate attempt to lure obnoxious, people “loving” gnats to a point high above their heads!! My husband never lets me live that down!

But, last year, when we moved to the Gap in the Shenandoah Valley, the rural wave was real, heartfelt and the norm. As we pass people on the road, we don’t have to know them, and we usually don’t, to be the recipient of a wave.

There is the 2 finger wave, the one finger off the steering wheel wave (not to be confused with the one finger wave that is very popular in urbanicity- different finger!)

There might be merely a hands free head nod, or the fully enthusiastic 5 finger whole hand wave- usually reserved for those you actually know!

The Gap area is surrounded by the National Forest – trees sending their stress relieving vibes to everyone around. Ed Macie, regional urban forester with the US Forest Service in Atlanta, says: “Human beings are organic beings and have a very long genetic history on this planet that connects them very closely to natural systems. Through industrialization and moving away from an agrarian lifestyle, we’ve become disconnected. We need to bring nature back to where we live.”

With that thought in mind, time to get out the seed catalogs and start planning that garden- relieve your stress and get back to the earth – no matter how large or small your section of earth is!!!

I am about to get started on my garden(s)! Even tho it is still frigid out, I have my potting soil and seeds ready to go! My Mennonite neighbors are already discussing starting their tomatoes and cold weather veggies. And, the end of this month, the hummingbird feeders go back out!!!!

So, whether you live in the asphalt jungle or the National Forest, or somewhere in between, go out and commune with nature – you’ll be a better person for it!!!

End of lecture!!! :>)