In these first few weeks of school, I’ve been doing my work sitting outside with my laptop. The cross between technology and nature may seem odd, but during the COVID-19 pandemic I’ve learned to value any time outside in the natural beauty that Wilton offers all of us. I check my email for new assignments while listening to birds chirping and squirrels running around. I join Zooms where my background is filled with sunshine and still-green trees. I look out, past my screen, and I observe the trees, big and small, the brown leaves left over from last winter, and the rocks covered in decades of moss. While doing so, I think to myself about how lucky I am to live in a place like this, and I reaffirm my dedication to spending as much time experiencing Wilton’s nature as possible.

Living in Wilton, we have some of the most beautiful and accessible forests, parks, and general wildlife in the country. Instead of stepping out of your home and hearing the sounds of construction crews and traffic jams, we get to listen to birds singing and wind rustling through the trees. We get to look out of our windows and see all of the vibrant green colors that fill our town. We’re able to experience nature firsthand every single day just by living in Wilton. We are incredibly fortunate to live here and have these opportunities but sometimes it can be easy to forget about what exists outside.

When life gets busy and we feel buried in work, spending time outside can seem like a waste of valuable time. However, if the coronavirus pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that we have access to an incredible amount of nature that could have a major impact on our health and wellness, if only we use it. Everyone should strive to explore nature in our town by getting outside and going for a walk on the Norwalk River Valley Trail, or taking a bike ride around their neighborhood, or just sitting outside once in a while.

If I’ve just had a long day of Zoom classes and difficult assignments, the best thing for me to do is go outside and feel the sunshine, breathe in the fresh air, and take a break from life by focusing on nature. Discovering a new hiking trail at Woodcock Nature Center or observing some squirrels running around outside always helps me relax and refocus on whatever tasks I have left to do. Because I live in Wilton, a town full of nature, I can enable myself to be a more focused and healthy person. And so can you.

Throughout this summer, I know many people have come to a similar realization to mine and spent hours outside in the beautiful weather where they reconnected with our town’s nature. But in the final months of this year, as we restart school and our normal lives, I ask all of you to remember the importance of nature in our health and maintaining balance in our lives. When you’re feeling busy and overwhelmed in these next few months, remember that Wilton has an incredible amount of nature that has the potential to help you, whether that’s taking a hike around Weir Farm National Historic Site, riding your bike around the neighborhood, or just opening a window and looking outside once in a while.

Ryan McElroy is a senior at Wilton High School. He shares this column with three classmates.