I Don’t Hate Nature…

…it hates me.

Or maybe it likes me too much.

Every time I venture out (usually dragging my feet like a five-year-old) into nature, I come back with scratches, bug bites and/or that phantom feeling that critters are crawling all over me.

The boardwalk through a wetland at Maumee Bay State Park. This "nature" was okay because I didn't have to actually touch anything, though every flying bug in the state was touching me.

My husband is from Ohio. I am from California. He swears there aren’t bugs in California – it was one of the first things he noticed. And he’s right. Because they are all in the mid-west.

I like the beach. That is my nature. The salty air. The warm sand between my toes (So Cal).  Footprints in the wet sand when the water retreats (Northern Cal).

It took some getting used to but I’ve come to prefer the cold, rocky northern California beaches to the hot crowded sands of Newport Beach. Mostly because in Northern Cal, I would wear jeans and a sweater to the beach, not a bathing suit, which – being fair, chubby, and red-head – I was never comfortable with during adolescence.

But nature in the midwest usually means going “into” nature, i.e. a path in a forest where things fly around, bugs bite, and creatures live.

Now I don’t mind a nice stroll through the Rocky River reservation near our house west of Cleveland. There is a nice paved path for walkers, joggers and bikers to share. Darla the Pug and I often take walks there.

But Dan likes to take our daughter and dog on “adventures” – right down to the river, usually in the mud. If I go with them, I am usually on edge in “mommy panic” that Mia will fall in, that Darla will get covered in mud (and I’ll have to clean her), that I’ll get my shoes muddy, and of course, I will be feasted on by mosquitoes. It’s not really pleasant for anyone.

So we’ve come to an agreement that if I am going with them, we stick to the path. Without me, they can do what they want, just don’t tell me about it and leave your shoes outside.

My idea of nature is to find a shady, bug-free, comfortable spot, and write in my notebook. While I am more of an indoor person at heart, I do like to be outside in the sunshine (with 50 SPF sunscreen and a hat). My mind wanders, my breath slows, my shoulders relax. I sigh with relief at being away from the computer and laundry, etc.

But I can’t relax when I am swatting at bugs or afraid of swallowing one.

The irony of course is that I work for the Ohio Environmental Council. I am passionate about protecting our earth and our resources. I want to protect nature for everyone – those that love to get deep in the muck and glory of nature and those (like me) who prefer to be a few feet back from nature, admiring it without having to get too dirty.

Someday I hope I can come to peace with nature in Ohio but by then we will have moved back to California anyway.

2 thoughts on “I Don’t Hate Nature…

  1. WE don’t spray and have a lot of birds in our yard – a catbird this noon, in fact.
    But we don’t like mosquitoes and we keep them out of the yard by sprinkling granulated garlic around. It keeps the mosquitoes down and the birds take care of the rest of the bugs.

  2. Garlic is good. We used to feed garlic pills to the dogs… fleas don’t like the taste or smell. A bit of bug spray doesn’t hurt either, or what is it? Avon sunscreen? As for not going through the brambles down to the water edges..
    I can’t keep the boys on trail unless I scare them with snake stories. Nichole or Auntie Lisa will stay on the trail while I walk with the boys through the muck. Once Mia has fallen in, the worry will go away (sort of) because one of two things will happen. A: She’ll be fine. or B: she’ll not do it again. (Austin only had to slip and get one foot wet before he wanted to quit.) I know you don’t, but I say anyway… Do not discourage your girl from her adventures. They will make her stronger and more confident every day.

    Love you all,
    Ria

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