Joel Dueck ·

Northern Minnesota, October 2023

We have a tradition of making a short trip to northern Minnesota in October, usually just for a long weekend. This is the biome where my earliest memories are set, and I love every minute up here, no matter the weather or the season.

Forest bathing is real. There are claims about what it’s good for, and studies examining those claims, neither of which I know much about. But I have tried to reflect on why it affects me the way it does. For me, I think I think it’s something to do with being surrounded by a deep fractal complexity which owes nothing to human considerations.

Photo of a pine treetop in northern MN

A forest is a kaleidoscope that rewards examination at any level of detail for any amount of time.

Photo of intermingled orange and green maple leaves

Where many people live together, the landscape necessarily consists almost entirely of externalized human cognitive processes (Mind Palaces): markets, infrastructure, homes. In a forest, where there are few people, everywhere you look, you see dense, alien detail.

Photo of a path through a pine forest

Surrounded by this xenogenic richness, it becomes almost possible, with much patience, to slough off my buffered self, to become porous again.

Close-up photo of a mushroom on the forest floor
Selfie of the author in the woods, wearing a green cap and a hoodie under a black jacket