…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.
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.