Friday, September 25, 2015

Nature and Me


As I round out my fourth decade of life, I find that I am becoming a lot more honest with myself and with others about who I am and what I like and what I really want to do and who I really want to be. For example, I'm comfortable admitting that I like doughnuts more than I like being thin. I wanted to be the woman who could end up not liking brownies or cheese after making changes to diet for health reasons, but you know what? Brownies and cheese give me raging adult acne, but I still think they're delicious, and if you see a zit on my nearly-forty-year-old face, you can bet your bottom dollar that it was a pastry or cheese that put it there. Or four pastries. Whatever.

But there's one illusion I've been hanging onto for a long time that I sometimes feel is even more socially unacceptable than admitting that enjoying good food is preferable to having thinner thighs, and that is that I do not like nature. That's right. I said it. Nature and I are not good friends. I wanted to love nature. I tried. I tried really, really hard. But I can't deny it - I prefer the indoors.

Now don't get me wrong - I appreciate all the flora and fauna and the circle of life and all of that. The well manicured lawns of a park? Heck yeah, we love primroses planted neatly in rows and squirrels that are tame enough that we can feed them. But I remember listening to a friend talk about camping with her family, and how healing and wonderful it was to be in nature, and thinking, "There is nothing that would make my children hate me more and my husband desire to divorce me than to go camping as a family." I understand the appeal of campfires and starry skies, but I prefer to gather my family around the radiator for warmth and make s'mores with marshmallows we toast over our gas stove burners. (It totally works, FYI.)

This week the kids and I went to meet up with other home educating families in a nearby nature reserve. Nature reserve, it turns out, is code for "overgrown cemetery," but there is definitely lots of nature to experience there. We experienced mosquitoes, spiderwebs, thorny plants, and all sorts of other things that made my children cry. Crying children: yet another reason nature and I are not friends.

But we did love the friends we made and how we could walk there from our house. I know that a lot of people love nature, and so we will be asked to come along for nature-y things. And we will say yes, because we like people more than we dislike nature. Just because nature and I are not friends doesn't mean I won't tolerate it from time to time, and I am teaching my children to do the same. For the right reasons, we'll endure it. Just don't ask us to come camping.

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