We live in the built world. Our exposure to wild things and wilderness is limited. We have a garden that tends towards shaggy and we enjoy our trips to the local park but our circadian rhythms are tuned to the city with its various machines and priorities.
But sometimes we find ourselves shorn of our dependencies and flung into a different comfort zone. Such was our August. We’ve just returned from a month of travel that gave my children a rare and amazing glimpse of the natural world. We went hiking and swimming in northern Ontario, and kayaking on the Pacific Ocean. We saw ravens and deer, dolphins and seals. We picked wild blackberries. We learned how a starfish digests its food and how to smooth out an eagle feather.
Now for many Canadians, such outdoor experiences might be commonplace but for our urbanized immigrant family, they have an undeniable exotic appeal. I grew up with metropolitan parents (one London-born, the other Tokyo-born) and didn’t have much contact with cottagey types. (My parents were a bit “different” so their idea of a vacation tended to involve black jack tables, Rothmans and tumblers of Bacardi.)
Given my own city-bound childhood, it’s surreal for me to see my children find their feet in nature. I can’t believe Y knows how to “wet exit” a kayak and that M can deftly explain the difference between an Orca whale and a Gray whale. Yesterday, my dearest friend sent me this great post linking outdoor experience to environmental values.
The same friend who sent this to me is down in Washington D.C. today protesting the Keystone XL pipeline project, a multi-billion pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. It’s highly possible she’ll be arrested as others have since the two-week long civil disobedience campaign began in front of the White House. I’m thinking of her and all the activists who are taking this issue of climate destabilization and fossil fuel dependency to the streets. (Sometimes is takes wild things to speak for wild things…Just ask Dr. Seuss.)
“for the trees have no tongues”
(This is for you, N.)