Happy Monday! Well, it is for me anyway, since I’m on vacation this week. We’ve been at the lake barely 24 hours and we’ve already gone boating, swimming, mini golfing, and caught a fish the kids named Finn. Please enjoy this post from my archives. And don’t forget: the LAST SESSION of my fun, practical, 6-week online class, Personal Essays that Get Published, starts in just 2 weeks! More info here.
You know how I decided I’m a shopaholic in denial? Well, it turns out I’m also a repressed nature girl. Who knew?!
I would never describe myself as an outdoorswoman. I prefer B&Bs to pup tents, carafes to canteens, down comforters to sleeping bags. I’m a big fan of electricity and indoor plumbing. Growing up, my California relatives were the outdoorsy ones. We went camping with them once or twice, but I could never get over the threat of bears and the lack of bathrooms. Also, I really hate bugs.
But last week at the lake I realized I loved being outdoors most of the time. Of course, it helped that the weather was beautiful and there were no mosquitoes. At home, I can’t step outside to put the trash out without my hair frizzing up from the humidity and acquiring a half-dozen mosquito bites.
One evening my mom and I went out in the kayak just before sunset. The water was smooth and calm, all the Jetskis and speedboats gone home. We glided silently along the shore, past willow branches and marsh grass, rippling the lake’s surface ever so slightly with our paddles. We spotted a blue heron, standing still as a statue at the water’s edge. We held our breath as we paddled closer to get a better look at his strange, elegant profile. A moment later, with an annoyed screech, the heron winged away to a more private perch.
Then there were the bunnies and chipmunks the kids spotted, the fish they caught, the grasshoppers and the butterflies and the dragonflies they chased. I think I was more excited than they were the time I was reeling in the hose and found a tiny, tan frog hiding underneath. You sure don’t see those in the city.
I had forgotten how urban our surroundings are at home until we were at the lake. We live in a leafy neighborhood where we regularly encounter insects and rabbits and even a stray fox or two, so sometimes you can forget you’re in a city. But at the lake, there was no mistaking that we were far from a major urban area – the air, the quiet, the stars bright in the dark, dark sky.
Yeah, I could get used to that. In a place like that, there’s no worrying about whether the kids are getting enough exercise or fresh air. No forced marches to the park or playground for a daily dose of nature. Being outside is just…natural. It’s enough to make an outdoorswoman out of the most indoorsy person. I’ll just pretend I didn’t see those deep claw marks on the bear-resistant garbage cans.