I don't tend to think of myself as outdoorsy or as a nature person. When I told this to my friend Jessica she thought that I probably do like nature, but that I also like modern conveniences. She's right and her saying this brought me back right back to a day-long hiking trip up a swiss mountain. It was exhausting, terrifying, and exhilarating.
We celebrated at the end of the day in a cabin at the bottom of the mountain eating potato pancakes, drinking beer, and falling soundly asleep in a large room with rows of bunk beds. I have other examples – local ones included – to prove Jessica right, too.
It's the hot meal cooked inside and the sleeping under a solid roof I crave, not the outdoors I dislike. However, I still don't think I'm the best person to write about the outdoors and that's why I asked Jessica to answer a few questions.
You'll see she was the right person to write something this month. She generally inspires me, but how she writes about nature has made me want to do more outside, for myself and my family – I've got a partner who's good at it and a kid who loves it. I might even have to suck it up and start to find a way to enjoy camping.
What is your favourite kind of nature?
Big nature is my favourite kind. The natural places that have little evidence of human impact, isolated canoe routes through Temagami, a hike with no trail, places where I feel little, lost, and a tiny bit scared. I love mountains, dry arid climates, and the ocean. My last outdoor adventure was a three week Arctic river canoe trip. Along the river we stopped and scrambled up mountains on our rest days, and tromped around on discovering missions. We saw wild sheep! I didn't even know they existed! I never felt so small, and so free; it was human existence in the right proportions.
Describe how it feels to be in nature - the emotions you feel and the senses that are activated.
I feel like I can breathe more deeply, that I have space. I feel my eyes move into their sockets and my shoulders lower 3 inches. Nature also provokes feelings of awe and wonder. For example, the first time seeing the northern lights, or when the street light reflects off of softly falling snow, an owl in flight, and every single sunrise and sunset.
Tell me about a time nature failed you.
Nature has never failed me. I am often disappointed in myself that I don't take better care of the nature around me; I wish I tried harder to live more lightly on the earth.
What is one beautiful place in the town where you live and what makes it beautiful?
I love the Grand River and the trails that follow the river through town. I love the sound of the water, how it bubbles over rocks. I love how varied the trail is, where some areas are forested and others are wide open, parts are dirt, others gravel, some paved. Most importantly I love how many access points there are to the trails and that I keep discovering new ones. Last Friday I found an access point at River Road and Lackner. It was a natural trail through a treed area and then became a gravel trail along the river. My favourite part was climbing a hill and at the top of the hill was a vista of a new housing development, which was hilarious. The people who live there are so lucky to have the river in their backyard.
What makes loving nature possible?
Preparedness makes it possible, good snacks, water, and gear. When it's raining, a decent rain coat, and rain boots will keep you dry and happy. In the winter, you can spend the entire day outside wearing a warm cozy jacket, snow pants, a good hat, mitts, warm boots that are light. Get good shoes, always good shoes. (Or no shoes at all in the summer.) If you dress for the weather and love to play, falling in love with nature is possible.
What are your thoughts on nature?