I recently received a bunch of kale as a gift. “A bouquet of greens, for your smoothies,” my best friend said, a mischievous smile on her face. As I pulled some of the leaves off their stalks to freeze (because nobody likes kale that’s gone yellow from fridge-burn), a memory pulled me back: I was sharing a kitchen with Delle, a chef with whom I had connected while living in the forest a few months prior.
A week after my father was buried in January of last year, I went on a monthlong retreat in the milkwood forest of the South African Fynbos. I’d previously scheduled the trip, but as I prepared to leave, I was grateful for the timing of it all—it offered the space and respite that I needed during a difficult time for my mental health. I was already severely burned-out (after years of training and working as a psychotherapist), and now I was navigating the particularly complicated process of grief.