By now, if have been following our column this season, you may recall I have mentioned “Trout and Coffee” several times. To remind you, this is a blog, series, or whatever you would like to call it, found on YouTube, featuring beautiful nature scenes, warm cabins, and lovely gardens. If you’re like me, and have found it, maybe you have been as infatuated with it as I have. It’s all about a calming that we seldom seem to find in our hectic lifestyles. The rippling brooks, the swaying of branches in stiff winds, spring splendor, and fall fire, can captivate one’s soul, if for only a moment, if you allow it to.
If you continue to “scroll,” you may happen upon other calming venues that will also urge you to hesitate in your day, again, if only for a few minutes. You may recognize some of these sites entitled, “Autumn Café with soothing jazz music” or perhaps “Bookstore Coffee Café with Fall Ambience.” You will notice a realistic setting almost as if you are sitting in one of the warm chairs at a cozy coffee table. With your favorite reading piece in hand or perhaps a composition book, spiral bound of course, and pen making and taking notes, you may leave your world behind for just a bit. By watching these productions, you may notice the chalkboard menu featuring Lattes, Mochas, Macchiatos, and Frappuccinos. You can almost hear the heart pine or hardwood floors creaking under your feet as you step toward the shelves holding the condiments for your cups of brew like natural honey, raw sugar, and sticks of clove.
Of course, soothing woodwinds, flutes, and guitars certainly add to the experience. Candles will be abundant throughout the shop emitting fragrances that may vary from willow, to earth, or even cinnamon. These producers have fine-tuned the animation to feature steam rising from the cups on your table. You will notice decorative pieces of art hanging from walls and door facings. As you peer outside from your place of relaxation, you may notice drifting leaves, still rich in color, and softy falling rain adding a sense of realism by the drops splashing against the glass.
Passersbys may be wearing rain jackets and galoshes, all the while dodging puddles from the steady patter of raindrops. Iconic station wagons and old blue pickups can be seen from time to time if you continue to watch. This setting, or perhaps environment, is very conducive for deep sleep or meditation. The choice is yours. Keep in mind, these “manmade” shops are produced for city cafes, your studies, and your living rooms. As real as they seem, and I dearly love watching them on cold mornings during fall and winter, they are totally based on what the real coffee shops and nature offers us. Whether you are calmed by coffee or calmed by nature, nothing is as good as the real thing. Come with me, as I describe nature’s calming arena.
Picture strolling down an abandoned logging road in the morning. We have had a frost or two and the leaves are beginning to turn loose just as I have said they would. Take a minute and sit on a log just to the side of the leaf littered path. If you have brought along your favorite Stanley thermos full of fresh coffee, all the better. As you hold your warm cup, gaze upward through the canopy of trees above and pick out an individual leaf as it acrobatically drifts to the ground. If you happen to be sitting next to a creek or slough, all the better. Listen intently to see if you can hear the slightest splash as the foliage lightly touches down. You may be more apt to hear acorns and gumballs than weightless leaves as they break the water’s surface, and that’s ok too.
There is always the possibility to be near an ancient beaver dam with small creases in the structure allowing water to trickle to the stream below. I mentioned the sounds of the falling rain earlier, and the sound of the gurgling water doesn’t have to play second fiddle. Both offer a solitude that must be experienced in pristine settings.
Wind can add immensely to your time of relaxation. Whether it comes in the form of strong gusts with the passing of a front, or subtle breezes with no direction of origin, each brings to the table opportunity for deep thought and contemplation. Tree tops may twist and sway with limbs reaching the verge of detachment, bringing a blizzard of foliage to your lap as you continue to sit. A gentle breeze may bring just as much anticipation as you stretch for those small leaflets that seem to flutter to your lap and at just the last moment, scoot away from you. It can seem almost like a game of chess as you and the leaf dodge each other. Later in the winter, snowflakes can offer the same challenges.
The jazz and soft tunes played in the coffee shops can’t be heard from your log in the woods, but what other “music” could take its place? Maybe, if you shut your eyes, and the winds die just a bit, the distant squeal of wood ducks can be heard as they fluidly part the tannin-stained waters. Geese, calling from overhead, can sometimes be so loud they are annoying. But if just the right distance away, their subtle cries can be therapeutic. If you must strain to hear them, then they have added quite nicely to the music offered by nature. Other sounds may include soft hoots from a great horned owl, the “beeping” of a woodcock at dusk, and the chatter of mallards heading to bed for the evening. Just as in the coffee shops, sounds of nature play a major role in the “calming” effect for one’s needs.
I always take a deep breath when the aroma of candles penetrates my olfactory senses. Even in the animated scenes, with candles on stage, I find myself searching for a hint of what they may be releasing. While sitting on your log, inhale deeply to search for what may be lurking in the crisp air. You may pick up on ripened persimmons reminding you of the pastries and scones in the coffee shop. Rich topsoil, combined with decomposing leaves, can bring to your senses a touch of what is truly organic. We hear so much in today’s world about green living and an organic lifestyle. It doesn’t get much richer than what the old logging road holds. If you’re still near the beaver dam, then a hint of musk is always the possibility. There are many other fragrances floating in the wind, who knows what else you may experience.
Have I been able to make comparisons of a manmade calming through nature and the real thing? Both are quite authentic, just in different ways. The coffee shops do their best to bring to you a gift in the form of rich java, nostalgic books, warm settings, and flavors and scents. Nature does the same thing, just in a different way.
Whichever venue you decide to take advantage of to relax and slow your pace of life, you won’t go wrong. In fact, why don’t you try both and see which you enjoy the most? There’s never a better time than today to tell yourself, “I’m going to seize the moment and allow myself to be calmed.” Be sure to find those coffee shop venues, autumn café ambiences, and winter jazz sites. On those days when you don’t have the time to stroll to your log, this will buy you the time until you do. You know where to search and I bet you will grasp what I am offering. I hope you enjoy your experience.
Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it. By the way, Happy Thanksgiving!