It is my very humble opinion that much of our world’s current malaise is due to what Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, coined as “Nature Deficit Disorder”.
Getting out in nature has always been an experience that I treasured, from the time I was a little girl. I was born in the Midwest, but when I was 7, my mother and step-father moved us to New Mexico. We spent some time up in the Sandia Mountains. Every winter, we’d make the treacherous trek up the mountain to cut down a Christmas tree on a small parcel of land my parents owned. I didn’t get along with my family very much, but I am so glad they took us into the mountains as children.
When we would go visit my biological father in Colorado, he and my stepmother would take us to the local reservoir to muck around in.
When I had difficulties as a sensitive teenager in a home that was filled with lots of fighting between my parents, I’d retreat to my favorite two places. I’d stop off at the library to grab a book, then take it into the forest preserve behind the library to read. It was a wonderful way to soothe myself from the difficulties I went through with my family.
As a mother of three bright daughters I make it a point to take my children out to natural places at least once or twice a month. Sadly, we don’t have anything within walking distance, and I think that is a shame, but I am not going to complain too much. At least we have a few beautiful places within driving distance.
I wanted to share a few photographs of places we love.
This is our local arboretum. We bought a family membership so now we go quite a lot.
This is a state park in Illinois known as Starved Rock. The area has many small canyons and is rich in history too. We took the girls for the first time this year and they loved it.
One of my absolute favorite shots of my middle daughter in the forest at Starved Rock was this one, which I really love.
A few years back, we traveled by train to go visit my dad and we made a stop at the Garden of the Gods to do some hiking with the girls. We all had a lovely time climbing the red sandstone.
The views there were breathtaking.
Last weekend we visited a living historical farm/homestead that had on its large property a farmhouse, a barn, and a one-room school house and every fall they have a harvest festival which we attend. I love going because we get nature AND a history lesson.
It’s so important to me to share these experiences with my daughters. I’m not a total ‘roughing it’ kind of girl, and for now, still feel connected to where I live in the relatively quiet suburban town. But I make it a point to get out to nature as much as we can.
I think it’s really imperative that everyone make time to seek out these natural resources, diminishing though they may be.
Two of my daughters are in the gifted program in school, and the youngest one may well be next year too. But more important to me than stuffing their heads with knowledge, is bringing them to places to learn about our natural world to counter-balance the information they are requited to learn with more hands-on exposure to nature.
So many of their friends are already well-endowed with all types of electronic gadgetry, and I ask them from time to time if they ever get out to any of the places we visit with their families, and they tell me no. Every time I talk to adults with children, I am always encouraging them to take their kids to natural places explore that aren’t so very far away.
I really hope they do. I believe it’s one of the surest ways to offset the stresses and dis-ease of our modern world.