Finding Wellness Through Nature With Marin Photographer Jeff Lewis
We live in a fast-paced, high-tech world and I believe it’s important to break away from our phones, desks and screens to explore somewhere new, take some deep breaths and be mindful in the moment. It’s during those times that I find wellness. I’ve found it in the fairy-tale villages of Switzerland. I’ve found it climbing sky high in the remote mountains of California, Canada and beyond. I’ve found it watching the sunset from idyllic beaches in Hawaii. And I’ve found it on my morning walks in the rolling hills right here in Marin. Wherever you are, I hope you feel inspired to get outside. Marin is a magical place and we are so lucky to have it.
The Canadian mountains have become a happy place for me. I fell in love with them more than a decade ago and have returned many times. I love climbing airy mountains and feeling the brisk, fresh air on my face, watching the clouds roll in over an ocean of golden larch trees and impossibly blue lakes, and heli-backpacking while the aurora borealis lights up the night sky over some of the most dramatic and remote spires in the world. In each of these places, I find serenity.
I feel blessed to have spent more than a year of my life in the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii is an idyllic paradise with turquoise waves lapping on golden sand, majestic palm trees and towering ridges carpeted in every shade of green. Many of my fondest memories are of Hawaii, where I find repose.
Growing up, I remember seeing photos of places that looked too perfect to be real. Many years later, I experienced these very places with my own senses — and I loved it so much that I had to return the following year. Switzerland’s mountains are breathtaking, no doubt, but what makes being there so memorable are the fairy-tale-like villages with their little shops, the warm people who encourage me as I learn their language, and the cows and sheep frolicking with their ring-a-linging bells. Through each of these, I find peace.
I have a long, loving relationship with our Sierra Nevada Mountains. Back in my college days, I discovered the best way to keep my mental health in check was to escape to the Sierra on weekends. In 2011, I backpacked the 221-mile John Muir Trail, then went on to serve for three seasons as a backcountry ranger in Sequoia National Park. It’s no surprise that I was in top physical shape because I was hiking 15 to 25 miles a day. And, just as important, whenever my mental load began to boil over, the mountains were there for me. Exploring in the Sierra, I find tranquility.
Whether I’m watching the northern lights dance over remote spires in the Yukon, dining next to cows in fairy-tale Swiss villages, or sneaking out in Novato for a morning hike before meetings, being in nature has the same healing effect on me. It’s where I seek wellness.
Novato-based Jeff Lewis is Marin County’s premier landscape artist. He was voted Best Artist in Marin in 2023, has been published globally by Fortune 500 companies, and partners locally with Marin Agricultural Land Trust. You can support his art by purchasing handcrafted prints and coffee-table books at numerous local art festivals and craft fairs and online at www.landESCAPEvisuals.com.