gratitude for the good things.

December 7, 2020

Dr. Sandra Andersson and her husband, Russ, have fallen in love. With open space. All it took was a pandemic.

Last December, they ventured out to Stoneleigh: a natural garden for the first time, exploring the chilly grounds and garland-be-decked mansion during the holiday open house. That’s where they learned about Natural Lands’ network of nature preserves and the Find Yourself Outside Challenge to visit them all.

Photo: Mae Axelrod

Sandy and Russ at Bryn Coed Preserve

In January, they explored Binky Lee and Bryn Coed Preserves in Chester Springs. They were in awe of the magnificent white oak at Bryn Coed, and decided they’d come back to photograph it every season.

In February, the Anderssons became Natural Lands members. In March, they toured ChesLen and loved the rolling hills and expansive views.

Then COVID-19 hit.

“Things got really bad. Everyone was stressed and trapped indoors,” said Sandy. “But I looked online and saw the preserves were still open.”

What started out as just a fun way to get some exercise and see new places became a lifeline for the couple. “It was an adventure that kept us busy—and sane—during a scary time,” she shared. “Planning our next preserve visit was something to look forward to and something safe to do together. We needed this for our minds, this connection. It was very grounding.”

Sandy now considers herself an unofficial ambassador for Natural Lands. She shares her adventures with friends and family, and talks up the organization to anyone who will listen. She even included Natural Lands in the daily videos she made for the patients of her Harleysville-based chiropractic business. The videos, in which Sandy focuses on gratitude for the good things in life, are one of the ways she has responded to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I can’t keep it to myself,” she said. “Everyone needs this open space. The wildlife, the birds, and people, too. I tell everyone about Natural Lands so they might also give their financial support. They might find, as my husband and I did, that sense of adventure that comes from traveling down back roads, off the beaten path. We’ve seen parts of this region we never would have discovered without Natural Lands giving us a reason to.”