Rain forest. Tundra. Lemur. Jaguar. As much as I love nature shows on public television and reading about far away places in wildlife magazines, they haven’t done a lot to bring nature closer to many of us living in urban and suburban areas. We learn. We delight. But we don’t really relate. Nature has somehow become a destination versus something that we all have access to every day.
No matter where you live, nature and wildlife are all around you. In the eaves of a house, a favorite tree in a park, or on ledge of an apartment building in the city. You don’t need to go to Yosemite or the Galapagos to experience nature — although, what amazing adventures those would be! My point is, don’t wait for a once a year or once in a lifetime trip to get to know nature. Start today.
I like to think of it as Little “n” and Big “N” Nature. Little “n” are things like song birds, rocks, and squirrels — things you can find in backyards, neighborhoods, and local parks. Big “N” are things like moose, bears, and giant sequoia trees — things that most of us have to travel to national parks or more exotic destinations to see. Both types of nature have value, especially for kids.
For children who have never been hiking or camping or even spent much time out in the backyard, watching nature shows can present a one-sided view of the natural world — that it is something to be dreamed about versus enjoyed up close or known. Giving them the opportunity to interact with their part of the natural world every day is an important part of childhood. Dirt, sticks, rocks, and local wildlife are there to be discovered. Every day.
Find the things that interest you and get the kids in your world excited. Some people fall in love with birds or bugs, while for others it’s trees or wildflowers. It doesn’t matter what it is — just spend some time exploring the Little “n” Nature near you. Know your world and introduce your children and grandchildren to it. If you are so inclined, explore further afield and treat yourself to the dazzling, real-life experience of Big “N” Nature. After all, if it wasn’t so cool, they wouldn’t make TV shows about it!
Now, if you will excuse me, the is a lot of Little “n” Nature waiting just outside my door. I am off to see what it has in store for me today. Remember, nature isn’t a destination. No ticket required.
See ya outside! – The Grass Stain Guru