In a previous article, I suggested that slowing down while hiking or exploring would allow you to see more wildlife and enhance your experience on your outdoor adventures. I received a few emails from some folks who loved the idea, but have a hard time getting around. Hiking just isn’t an option for them.

Room with a view

Room with a view

Here’s a great idea, not just for folks that aren’t as mobile but literally for all of us. I call it a “sit spot”, (or “secret place” when I teach it to children). The good news is you usually don’t have to travel far. Here’s the concept. Find a slightly out of the way place on your property, or perhaps at a nearby park and simply sit down, relax and just observe. You can even bring a chair if you’d like, though I prefer to sit on the ground. I know, I know…this sounds a lot like a previous article, but a “sit spot” is different. Indulge me for a moment. This is one of the Healthiest and FUN things you can do.  This is a place you should visit several times a week, if possible. This practice will allow you to get to know one area intimately instead of roaming all over. Most of us think we know our property pretty well, but this exercise might just change your mind. If you have the discipline to do this for an entire year, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll……

discover and experience. Not only will you encounter and glean knowledge about the local wildlife, but your awareness and knowledge of plants and insects will increase dramatically as you experience the changing of the seasons.

I’ve been doing this on and off for almost thirty years and have no intention of stopping. It’s too much fun and quite honestly, I find it rather healing. It helps me balance the hustle and bustle of my daily routine. I’d suggest doing this a minimum of 30 minutes each visit, but longer is better. I’ve sat in the woods for an entire day more than once. The longer you sit the more you’ll experience. The more you experience, the more you’ll learn. Don’t be surprised if you learn some interesting things about yourself during the process as well :) Most of us can’t sit still for even a few minutes. Remember, this is for everyone and I’ve found that this is a great lesson for children. Oh yes…they’ll resist at first, but once they start to really see things they’ll actually look forward to it. It teaches them patience…and that is always a good thing. You might not believe it’s the same kid after a few weeks!

I’ve been fortunate to see a multitude of animals including bobcats, coyotes, fox, newborn fawns, raccoons, opossums, skunks, mink, turkeys and I even had a squirrel climb up my leg once. A bit unnerving but exciting!

Here are some important points to remember:

  • Relax and quiet your mind…balancing your checkbook isn’t important now.
  • Try not to fidget – keep your noise to a minimum.
  • Sit as still as possible – when you look around turn your head slowly.
  • If you see or hear an animal nearby don’t move – animals see movement.
  • Animals are naturally curious – let them come to you.
  • Look at everything around you – especially things you think you already know.
  • Soak it all in – naps are considered acceptable behavior:)
  • Give thanks – Nature is an important part of you.

Remember to visit your place often, and at different times of the day if possible. You may discover that even on slow days, when nothing much seems to be happening, your “Sit Spot” is just a great place to BE.

Wild Wanderings with Richard Cleveland, teacher of outdoor skills at Earth School in Tryon, NC – a self-trained Naturalist and local fishing and nature guide. For more information and list of programs visit: