Veronica McCarthy

Beaches at night, and sunlight in the morning

Until you’ve looked at a health, beauty or lifestyle issue through the eyes of writer and creative director Veronica McCarthy, you perhaps haven’t seen the whole picture. We caught up with this Manhattan-based dynamo for An Hour in Nature. A self-confessed city slicker, how does Veronica connect with nature? 

What’s your favourite thing to do in nature?

I am laughing right now because of the dichotomy of my answer. Part of me desperately wants to move in nature. When I see an open field or a warm ocean there is a need to run head first into it, akin to a wild horse breaking into a gallop. I crave activity in my bones, and nature provides spaces for my body to do what it is built to do, to move.

But another part of me wants to curl up like a cat in a sunspot and take one of those restorative naps where you feel like you've just gained five years of your life back when you wake up. I suppose it proves that nature supports the brimming wildness and the deep restoration we need to feel our best. 

Describe your connection to nature: what positives does it bring to your life? 

You might not believe this but until recently I was kind of, eh, about nature. The story I told myself was that I was a "City Girl." No dirt, no bugs, no grass, yada yada yada. 

But it's just not true. I was trying to be this cool-kid-city-slicker and my nervous system was wrecked because of it. I wish I could say I single-handedly recognised the issue and course corrected, but it took someone who is nature first, city second, to come into my life and remind me that I don't need to scale Everest to experience nature. Simply feet on grass a few times a week will help regulate everything. 

Those small moments I find throughout the day, from a morning walk on the East River to noticing the light on the trees, are the most contemplative time of my day. As much as it pains this city-slicker to admit it, the Transcendentalists were really onto something.

What are your fondest memories of spending time in nature?

I attended University of California, Los Angeles, and majored in Art History. One day in class I was introduced to the Casper David Friedrich painting, Monk by the Sea. It's unclear if it's meant to be day or night, but what is clear is there is no framing device, the viewer is meant to be overwhelmed by what they see. That night I drove out to the beach and experienced this vastness for myself, and indeed it is overwhelming: to feel so exposed and yet feel so at ease in the presence of the methodical waves. I continue to seek out beaches at night to remind myself of the vastness in which we exist. An empty beach at night fills me with a contentment I know nowhere else.

Many of us are time-poor, and might not get out into nature as much as we’d like. Any suggestions for a quick nature-based pick-me up? Something sensory, experiential…? 

Hands down the early morning sun on your face. Which is shocking for me to say as a bonafide night owl. But morning light is just the best light, I can't deny it.  The way it gracefully rakes across everything it touches, slowly nudging the world awake in the most gentle of ways. It is the epitome of hope, giving you the possibility of another day, another chance to love. I live in New York City and it's amazing to watch people's shoulders relax when they turn a corner, step out of the shadow of a building, and the sun hits their face.