One of my favorite environmental quotations goes as follows:
“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive...” ~Edward Abbey*
These are the words of wisdom I try to remind myself of when I am having a moral crisis over what sort of salad dressing to buy at the grocery store (Plastic vs. Glass?? High Fructose Corn Syrup vs. Palm Oil?? Too many decisions!). While I absolutely want to work as hard as I can to understand and conserve the natural world, I also want to take time to walk around in the woods! When I am working out in the field, I try and remind myself to stick my toes in the water or gush over a particularly adorable weevil. This helps keep the balance in my life.
|Lett Lake, Snow Mt. Wilderness Area,|
STS Guide to Making Time for Nature
Schedule Your Nature Time
You schedule your classes, your work week, and time to hang out with friends. As busy people, most of us know that if an activity doesn't merit a spot in our calendars, it isn't likely to happen. So, pick a time and place and pencil in your next outdoor adventure now!
Multitask (sort of)
|Meridith likes to multitask by visiting|
Joshua Tree NP AND looking fabulous.
Don’t Get Preoccupied with Exercise
I am 100% completely guilty of this sometimes. I think this is obvious based on my own personal goal to “hike once each week.” Exercise keeps me centered, and this is often how I multitask my nature time. And, sure, getting out into nature can be a wonderful way to get some exercise and breath some fresh air. Is hiking to the top of a mountain superior to driving out to a lake and having a picnic? I don’t think so. It really depends on what you like and what you are trying to get out of this time. Importantly, you can get different things out of nature at different times. Sometimes it’s a calorie burn and sometimes its a peaceful nap.
National Parks are amazing, and there is a reason that Ken Burns called them “America’s Best Idea.” I’m sure Ken would agree that America has had some other really good ideas, like these cookies,(most) of these famous internet cats, and the numerous state and regional parks across the great ol’ US of A. Just Google “State parks of (your state name here)” and you will be well on your way! You can also go straight to Google Maps and type in “State Park.” Don’t forget to do a little internet sleuthing about regional parks, open space areas, land trust zones, wildlife areas, or Bureau of Land Management Areas (BLM Areas). Meridith and I particularly love finding new BLM areas because these are public lands, meaning when you find one designated for recreation, you can camp for free! You might find a gem you didn't even know about within your 20 mile radius. That is totally within striking distance, even for the most over-committed weekend warrior!
Expand Your Concept of Nature
Take the suggestion above, and go even further. Sure, nothing really beats being in a large natural area like a park (national or otherwise). However, the green belt running through my town is beautiful, and I love walking and running along it. Does your town have a green belt? Do you even know what a green belt is? You can also check out local arboretums and botanical gardens. Find a local green space and play some Frisbee or lay in the grass! Don’t get me wrong, if I could, I would be at Olympic National Park every single day, but I can’t. I can, however, take a walk through the restored riparian area along the local drainage ditch anytime I want. Even if you live right down the road from some great regional, state, or national parks, I would encourage you to take a little bit of time to explore these non-traditional nature experiences.
Build to Something Bigger
|Point Reyes National Seashore, CA|
So there you have it! What are your plans for getting outside this summer? Any big outdoor oriented goals you want to share?
*Emphasis is my own