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Guest Post: Playing in the Park, adult edition.

May 27, 2013

By Sami Fink, lover of parks and wanderer of the world. Check out her blog at http://samifink.com/

I love everything about life in a city. The fast pace, high energy, diverse neighborhoods, close proximity to good restaurants and music venues – there are few aspects of city life that I do not love. Yet despite my penchant for concrete jungles, I begin feeling stir crazy if I am away from nature for too long. I am passionate about plants and farming and I find it nearly impossible to be unhappy when surrounded by fresh air, trees, and songbirds. What’s a city girl to do when nature beckons?


Fortunately, my career accounts for my paradoxical needs. I am lucky enough to work in one of the world’s most beautiful urban parks, the Presidio of San Francisco. Situated at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, this former U.S. Army base is a natural oasis within the city that houses native plant habitats, cypress forests, hawks, and coyotes – not to mention breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean! I am in constant and complete awe of the exceptional beauty of this location and I thank my lucky stars every day that I am able to be here.

Clearly is easy for me to get my fix of city life and nature, but most cities have accessible natural spaces that are well worth visiting. Urban parks are plentiful and readily available to eager city dwellers looking to explore the great outdoors. Many major urban centres have magnificent landscapes to visit: Vancouver boasts the 1,000 acre Stanley Park, Central Park is a surprisingly calm natural escape nestled in the midst of the chaos that is Manhattan, and the landscaped gardens of Toronto’s High Park are a must-see during the spring and summer months. Those who are fortunate enough to live in Montreal (a city that is very near and dear to my heart) can take advantage of Parc Mont-Royal, and the Montreal Botanical Garden is a stunning display of flora from around the world (fun fact: the botanical garden is also quite close to the Stark headquarters!). Most cities have a plethora of smaller parks as well, which are great for picnicking or an afternoon of lying out and soaking up some vitamin D.

Blame my dualistic Piscean nature, but I thrive when I have easy access to the beauty of nature and the excitement of city life.Find out what parks are near you and explore! Hiking and picnicking are great ways to spend a few hours soaking in the sunshine and fresh air with friends and family. If you are feeling extra adventurous, ask around and see if there are any guided ethnobotanical walks in your area – you may discover some local flora that are great to incorporate into a DIY beauty treatment.

I would be remiss as a park worker if I did not mention that parks are often in need of volunteers. If you are inspired by the time you spend wandering the beaten paths of your local park, ask if you can contribute a few hours and help steward the landscape. It is a great way to learn more about your ecosystem and give back to your community.

There you are, folks – parks are one of the many resources available to those seeking to incorporate plants and nature into a healthy urban lifestyle. So pack up a delicious picnic, put on some sunscreen (bonus points if you bring your Stark Argan lip treatment for when your lips are feeling chapped on the trail), and go take a hike!