Monday, November 12, 2012


In the December 2012 issue of Outside magazine, there's a piece titled "Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning: The Nature Cure." It's a story of how Japanese researchers are "backing up the surprising theory that nature can lower your blood pressure, fight off depression, beat back stress -- and even prevent cancer."

One of the philosophies is called shinrin-yoku, literally "forest-bathing, inspired by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, to let nature enter your body through all five senses.

Part of the piece are six sidebars of advice, "The Outside Rx," and one of them is GO BLUE. It says, "Greening our lives is a good start, but we need to blue them, too. New research suggests that water may be a key element in the natural world for psychological well-being." It goes on to say that "Similary, a 2010 review of the mental-health benefits of being outside concluded that any exposure to natural space improves mood but that proximity to water significantly magnifies the effect. The more blue you incorporate into your life, the less blue you may feel."

When I moved here, with a view of water out of every window, many people told me how calming it feels, and now it's fascinating to know that the benefits are more than any of us imagined.

"Soft fascination"

Another part of the piece describes research at the University of Michigan led by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, who noted that modern-day psychological distress was often related to mental fatigue from sustained attention on tasks. What rests our brains? "Soft fascination" -- what happens when you watch a sunset or butterfly.

I realize that all my long paddles are "soft fascination" -- awareness of sights, sounds, smells without other distractions. I shall close down the computer and plan a paddle for tomorrow ...

... and John did a dive for the moonstone ring

This is a continuation of the "Mary fell in ....." post, and I am unlikely to ever have a more delightful living-on-the-river story.

After Mary put her sopping wet clothes in the dryer, she realized that while her glasses had not fallen off, her beautiful gold ring with a moonstone had!

It occurred to her that maybe John Glenn could dive down and try and find the ring. John Glenn is a profesionnal diver and houseboat expert. I'd hired him to do a dive inspection of my houseboat before I agreed to buy it, and he has done underwater work on many of my neighbors' floating homes.

Mary called John and left him a message and he called right back and arranged to meet her at 4:30 p.m. -- so he would be diving when it was dark above the river as well. He estimated that the river in the backwater there was about 25 to 30 feet deep.

John marked the spot with a long, heavy, pointed metal pole, then put on his wetsuit. Other neighbors gathered to watch. He dropped down underwater, and as he described later, was careful not to put his feet down, which would have stirred up the silt and covered everything. He hung onto the pole and shone a very bright light all around. About 7 feet upstream from where Mary fell in, he spotted the white stone glinting back. Within just 3 to 4 minutes, he came up holding Mary's ring!

Mary said, " I truly felt like I had called Superman and he came and conquered! And he wouldn't take a penny - said he hadn't done it for money, he wanted to help, and enjoyed it.'

Since John wouldn't take any money, Mary told him that she likes to cook for friends and could she cook him a dinner and if so, what would he want. John agreed to a dinner and asked for pot roast and lemon meringue pie. So last week, Mary invited John and another neighbor over to dinner, for thanks and a celebration.

(Photo of John in his wetsuit to come from Mary)

Later, John told me about someone at another moorage who lost a very expensive ring to the river. These folks tried to use a metal detector, which stirred up all the silt so the ring may be impossible to find. He suggested that what they might try now is to use a dredge to suck up the silt and then shake it through a screen.

Mary fell in ..........

GUEST BLOG -- by Mary Forst

This is a guest blog incorporating an email from my neighbor Mary Forst, who wrote on October 26, "I fell in the river today!"

Mary wrote:
" No kidding. I was just walking (okay, I was hurrying, but still) across to my tenderhouse, when I suddenly found myself toppling over to the right - away from my handrail - and knew I was going in! I went under face-first, but my feet were still on the boards, so I had a hard time getting my face out of the water. So I pulled my feet off and went in all the way - looked around to see if anyone was available to help - saw no-one, and started hauling myself out. It was amazingly hard to do.

"I started to go into my house but realized water was pouring off me. I took off my fleece jacket (boy, can that stuff hold water!) and shoes, slipped inside, stripped next to the washer and tossed everything but me and the shoes in. That's when I realized that while my glasses had not fallen off, my beautiful gold ring with moonstone had!
"Took a quick shower and of course the phone rang and the guy from Closets to Go arrived at the door that same instant.

"So now my clothes are washed and dried, and my ribs hurt when I laugh (I got an emergency chriropractor appointment tomorrow), I am so grateful to be alive.

"You just never know . . . everything can change in an instant."


The photos above and below show the narrow spot where Mary fell in. The "stripes" below are part of the reflection of her tenderhouse siding and window. I went out to look and see if I could fall between the walkway and my tenderhouse -- no, mine are closer together, but there are three railroad-type spikes stiking up and I'm not sure which would be less awful -- falling in the water or getting impaled on rusty spikes.