Bringing the Outside In

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I love walking. It gets me outside.

I used to be a runner, but as I aged (and inevitably gained some weight) my knees began objecting. So I started walking.

No matter if it’s running or walking, I think the important aspect of the exercise is being outdoors. Treadmills are a last resort. Whether rain or shine, I prefer to walk outdoors. Actually, I really like being outside whether or not I’m walking. I think it’s the fresh air, or maybe the opportunity to look at changes in the trees and flowers.

Which leads me to how I don’t like being inside too long. But that’s what happens in December when the days are short and the weather not so great.

Like today. It’s pouring cats and dogs! Sigh.

I am grateful that we at least have some good sized windows in our apartment. But the problem with them, like most apartments, is that the view is not so good. I can see a couple of trees, leafless and birdless right now, along with other apartment buildings. I can also see one of the busiest streets on this side of town. That street, by the way, and our location in the middle of an agricultural state, is the source of the much hated dust I complain about. But in the morning I often have a pretty view of the sunrise, probably due to the dust.

It’s a love-hate relationship.

I think the lack of a good view gets me walking more. Sometimes I’m out two or three times a day, at least half an hour at a time. Which is healthy, right? But it takes a lot of time out of my day, leading to a never-ending to do list.

Hence, I Googled this morning for ideas about how to bring the outside in. I thought it might help keep me inside if I felt more like I did when I was outside.

Here’s what I found:

Apartment Therapy suggests adding trees and draping vines around the room. That would work great if you have a green thumb. I don’t. Last summer I tried taking care of a mint plant I bought from Trader Joe’s. Mint is supposed to grow like a weed, so I thought it would be easy. Just water it when dry, give it some sun, and let it grow.

It died within a month.

I do have a few artificial trees but not plants. I found it doesn’t take too much time to dust trees but the plants have too many leaves. So I don’t think this will work for me, but it sounds like a great idea for some. I might try it again when we have a house. And are presumably living in a less dusty environment.

Anne-Marie Barton says “You can not simply fill homes with props that serve as place holders, you have to create spaces that absorb what you see around you, what exists out of doors”. I like this idea.

Of course, she chose to decorate a home in Mendocino.

If I had a home in Mendocino, any home in Mendocino, I’d be out on the beach more often than in the house. Or at least on the patio breathing fresh salt air and listening to the crash of waves against the rocks. Just thinking about it makes me want to be there! Unfortunately, a Mendocino location is far above my budget, at least on a permanent basis.

Still, if I want my living space to absorb what exists out of doors, I might be able to think of something. Perhaps I’ll find inspiration on my next walk…

It’s still raining.

I found some beautiful ideas at Freshome. Most of them apply to features in your home that you can change, such as the flooring, the walls, windows. Some of the ideas, like adding nature-inspired accessories, could work for me. Except I don’t like clutter, and don’t see the need to replace perfectly good furniture.

They also suggest using eco-friendly materials for your home, including soaps and anything disposable. I can honestly say we’ve been doing that for a very long time. My family is very conscious of our environmental footprint. But it doesn’t make me feel like I’m bringing the outside in;it’s more like I’m enabling the outside to thrive without my man-made pollution.

My conclusion is that there really is no substitute for being outside. So the dusting will have to wait a little longer.It’s still raining but I’m going for a walk now.


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