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Linwood Nature Preserve offers some nature-based stress relief to get through coronavirus precautions
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A redbud tree blooms at Linwood Nature Preserve in Gainesville on March 19, 2020. - photo by Shannon Casas

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You need to go outside.

Working from home probably means you’re working longer, irregular hours. Checking email first thing in the morning. Popping into Slack while your kids are having breakfast. Taking a call in the bathroom (be honest).

Screens, beeps, dings, rings, keyboard ticks and taps — it’s getting old.

But outside, Hall County is new again. Spring is poking its head up from the endless (really, really endless) rain that’s been covering the area for the past couple of months.

Georgia’s state parks are staying open amid the outbreak of coronavirus in the state because residents can enjoy the outdoors while practicing effective social distancing at the same time. Recommendations call for maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others.

But if you don’t want to head down to Don Carter, there’s a nature preserve within a stone’s throw of many of the neighborhoods along Thompson Bridge Road.

The Linwood Nature Preserve is a splash of color, a breath of fresh air, waiting down Linwood Drive in Gainesville for residents who have been cooped up at home for too long.

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Trails wind through the woods and beside creeks at Linwood Nature Preserve in Gainesville. - photo by Shannon Casas

The preserve maintained by the Redbud Project, a chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society, includes about 2 miles of trails that run through Georgia’s various native ecosystems — forest, prairie, wetlands and others.

Preserve land is owned by Gainesville Parks and Recreation, which has kept its other parks open as well. Parks are open from dawn to dusk.

“Those trails go through this 30 acres of Linwood Nature Preserve, and they go through the different ecosystems,” said Margaret Rasmussen, executive director of the Redbud Society. “It’s not a cookie-cutter kind of thing — here’s the old hickory forest, here’s the wetlands, here’s the prairie. When you walk on a trail, you go through each of those. You just wind through them. You can see all the different aspects of that particular ecosystem.”

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Linwood Nature Preserve in Gainesville includes several trails through the woods. - photo by Shannon Casas

The preserve is a haven for the Peach State’s native plants, including the aforementioned redbud tree, along with too many others to name. Many of them are in bloom or showing up around the preserve.

“The redbuds are popping out for sure,” Rasmussen said. “The trout lily is up. The bloodroot is up. The May apple is beginning to come up. And then there’s a really interesting plant that sort of carpets the woods. It’s called crane-fly orchid. The leaves are green — they look like an alligator on top and then underneath they’re purple — and those leaves are in the woods from September until May, and then you don’t see them anymore. That’s something that could be easily overlooked.”

The society does its best to mark native plants, and the preserve includes about 10 signs with information about Georgia’s ecosystems and the plants on the 30 acres. 

Rasmussen also emphasized the benefits of “forest bathing” as a method of stress relief and — as a result — a method of boosting the immune system.

You need to go outside.

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