5 Ways to Reconnect With Nature This Earth Day

Author: Rachel Hunsell

Cherry Blossoms

Near sunrise this morning, I heard and then saw a few geese flying low across a neighbor’s farm, nearing a small pond.

From the corner of my eye I caught two barn swallows tussling near our wisteria bush they’ve made their home.

As I turned to walk towards the barn, a killdeer scurried across the field and dug deep for a wormy breakfast.

Overhead, the wind whistled in my pines, and I began to feel the bright sun warm my cheeks as it rose over the treetops.

Swatting early mosquitos, I lit a small fire to burn wood scraps before I finally reached my task of the morning, a garden box filled with spring weeds ready to be freed of what no longer serves her.

This snapshot, these few moments of actively noticing, over time shape my life’s story through nature, my connection to earth and my ancestors. For me, this grief journey integrated into my life journey is one with far reaching roots into the natural world, the land my brother and our loved ones served to protect. The essence of all life, each one of us, is deeply connected to one another, all rooted into this spinning rock we call home.

At TAPS, we know connection is the pathway to healing, from learning to notice the gifts of nature like barn swallows and singing pines to heartfelt conversations on the trail that lead to lasting friendships made through loss.


flowers on side of road

machu picchu


As we celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and Arbor Day on April 30, both holidays nestled into National Park Week, we invite you to get outdoors and explore the ways your life intertwines with the natural world and how it impacts your grief. Looking for a place to start?

  1. Join us on A Breath of Fresh Air with TAPS Outdoors, a bi-weekly video series on YouTube, paired with Campfire Chats every other Monday! Visit Season 2, Sowing Seeds to learn more and subscribe to weekly emails and join around the campfire to connect with your fellow survivors!
  2. Learn about the ways you can participate to conserve, preserve, and Restore Our Earth on this Earth Day 2021 and beyond.
  3. Get rooted in learning, planting, growing and spending time with trees with some of these activities in celebration of Arbor Day on April 30!
  4. Get outdoors and explore our nation’s National Parks for free! This week anyone can visit any of our National Parks with zero charge. Learn more about yearlong access to our National Parks for surviving families.
  5. Spend five minutes outdoors at least once a day for an entire week! Step outside your door and grab some fresh air!

To learn more about the ways you can connect with nature and your fellow survivors through TAPS Outdoors events visit taps.org/outdoors.

Rachel Hunsell is the TAPS Outdoors Program Manager. 

Photos: TAPS Staff