Perhaps you remember, as I do, the heightened sensations of youth that attended each changing season. Seemingly endless summer brought peace and freedom, with cool water on sun-baked skin, sand between toes and the potential for adventure right outside the front door. Fall was melancholy with its haunting winds and leaves dropping like tears. Winter came with a harsh, cold snap that meant business and the comfort of fires and flannel sheets. Oh, but spring. Old cares were swept away with months’ worth of dust and dirt. A face upturned to the cleansing rains felt nurtured and refreshed. Spring was a blossom scented promise borne on a gentle breeze that at once soothed the soul and filled it with excitement.
What happens to that intuitive strong bond we once forged with the environment? We could blame the accountability that our understanding of adult life demands. There is also much discussion about technology causing a disconnection with the world around us, but all of our responsibilities and gadgets aren’t the cause. They’re merely symptomatic of the choices we have made. Perhaps the same could once be said of books, toys or even schools. Some histories of the 18th century define it as a period when the upper class view of the role of children shifted, when adults began to supervise and manipulate their growth rather than letting it happen naturally. It’s possible that the influx of products and services directed at the youngest members of the family unit during that time planted the seeds of withdrawal from nature.
Wherever this neglect of the natural world began, we are not obligated to allow its continuance, nor should we. Studies show that it’s not only our moods that are affected by what we experience in the individual moments of each ordinary day. Our immune systems respond to the body’s reaction to its surroundings as well. Pleasing atmospheres such as those found in nature heal, soothe and restore. They help us connect to one another by stimulating the parts of the brain associated with love and empathy. We can recapture the love affair we had with nature as children, but we have to want it.
While I’m not immune to that nameless yearning that Mr. Twain spoke of, there are definite things that I’m sure I want. One of those is to do what I can to give back a little of all that nature has given to me. It’s the reason that I joined the OLRA executive board six years ago. Another thing on my wish list as we begin the season that marks the sixtieth anniversary of the formation of our Association is to see it flourish and thrive for another sixty years. If you’re feeling that longing to get back to a more natural life, a craving for something new when the very world around you is welcoming your involvement, why not connect with us and find out how we can help you reconnect with nature?