1. Nature Makes You Smarter, Washington, D.C.  

This is your brain on nature: better short-term memory, better moods and brain chemical balance, and more creativity, according to recent studies. In one study, hikers were 50 percent more creative after spending four days on the trail. “Nature is a place where our mind can rest, relax and let down those threat responses,” said Ruth Ann Atchley, who conducted the study. “Therefore, we have resources left over to be creative, to be imaginative, to problem solve.”

2. Parkway Tragedy Puts Brakes on Mowing, ASHEVILLE, N.C 

In May, a National Park Service employee was tragically killed when his riding mower fell off a steep embankment at the Haw Creek Overlook of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. The accident that resulted in Dana Bruce’s untimely death led the Park Service to temporarily halt lawn mowing at all 397 national parks. While the grass grows, a rigorous safety assessment of maintenance practices will be done at every park from Acadia to Yellowstone.

3. Endurance Breeding, Knoxville, Tenn.

A Tennessee man is asking the state to help him cover child support. Desmond Hatchett is apparently having trouble covering the cost of his 30 children, whom he’s fathered with 11 different women. Even though Hatchett has a minimum wage job and can’t keep up with payments, the state says they cannot legally stop him from having more children.

4. Shaping up in West Virginia, Charleston, W.Va. 

Props to the Charleston Gazette, one of the grittiest daily newspapers in the region. In the face of West Virginia’s continually dubious health distinctions (including a recent Gallup Healthways poll that says the state ranks first nationally in heart attacks and diabetes), the paper is determined to inspire people with success stories. The Gazette’s new section, “The Shape We’re In,” was created to tell the stories of West Virginians who have turned their health around in an effort to motivate others to do the same. A notable recent piece, includes the story of 16-year-old Benji Willis of Ripley, who dropped 102 pounds in six months by running 6 to 10 miles a day.

5. The Goose is Loose, Snellville, Ga. 

Suburban Atlanta residents are pissed about Geese poop, but Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) employees aren’t offering much in the way of a solution. Wayne Briscoe complained to the DNR that his kids can’t play on their grandmother’s lawn in Snellville because it’s covered in excrement. He was told that he’s basically SOL. He was advised to buy a dog or scare the birds off with firecrackers or a water hose. Georgia actually introduced the Canada goose to reservoirs and ponds back in the 1970s, and the population has since exploded to 45,000 statewide, as many of the migratory birds have gotten comfortable and chosen to stick around.

Beyond the Blue Ridge

Kill It With a Skillet

Tonto National Forest, Arizona 

On a camping trip in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, a rabid mountain lion attacked Brandon Arnold’s 90-pound pit bull. So he did what any good dog owner would: beat the lion over the head with a cast-iron skillet until it went limp. Arnold’s friend put a bullet in the lion to make sure it was dead, and wildlife officials later confirmed it was rabid.

Hot Air Balloon Half-Marathon

Canberra, Australia 

An Australian man ran 13.1 miles on a treadmill while floating in a hot air balloon. Running to raise money for the Heart Foundation, Rob Ginnivan said the feat took twice as long as his usual half marathon time, because the treadmill tilted in the basket with each step, making the entire distance an uphill battle.

No Snow Lawsuit 

Vernon, New Jersey

Mountain Creek Resort is trying to collect on a $1.7 million insurance policy protecting itself against too many warm days. After a tough winter, owners of the New Jersey-based resort claim they’re entitled to the cash, but Everest Indemnity Insurance Co. disagrees. The dispute is over how many days during a 16-day window in December crested 33 degrees.