My mom started a blog, Mnemonic Retrievals. It is a photo blog rehashing her funky and worldly childhood memories. In the process of sorting through photos, she has been sending me great pictures of my brothers and me growing up and playing outside in Las Vegas.
Most people think of Vegas as bright lights, gaming, sex, long nights and madness, but as for me, I think of growing up and playing outside in the beautiful desert environment. Yes! Playing outside almost every day, usually with my two adoring brothers and our dog, Daisy.
My father kept our backyard lush with fig, olive and plum trees, and maybe not-so-eco friendly, beautiful green grass. We had an incredible sprinkler system and he watered the yard constantly. The roses, carnations and honeysuckles were always in full bloom. We had no idea how much water was being used and what the impact was on our local and global environments. However, we did know how to make incredible forts and build little mud huts for the dirt worms that lived near our sand box. We knew how long we could roll in the grass before the sharp blades left little slices on our skin and we learned from the hummingbirds to suck sweet nectar from the honeysuckle flowers. Our backyard haven was in full bloom all the way up to the cinder block wall that divided our yard from yet another environmental haven. My brothers and I piled up chairs or boxes and learned to jump over the wall into the expansive and cherished “Desert”. The Desert was essentially an empty lot without any construction or homes built up yet. In our Desert, we searched for lizards, hiked with walking sticks, made forts from boulders and explored the massive sandy landscape. We flew kites in the wind, basked in the sun, shivered in the cold and when we grew tired, we watched the sun set from our swing set tent. In the stretch of an acre or two, my brothers and I learned to love and appreciate our world, our environment. We had never heard of global warming, but we were experiencing, living and loving nature.
This was only part of our environmental education. My parents took us to the mountains to play among the trees and to the beaches to run in the sand and taste the salt. As children, we experienced nature on vacations and in our home, and now that we’re grown, we organically continue to enjoy, love and protect the landscapes we’ve been blessed with.
“Today, kids are aware of the global threats to their environment, but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature is fading,” says Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods. Louv notes that now and in the last two to three decades children have lost their connection to the environment and are more connected to electronics and their urban environment. How sad! This matters, because no matter how much you intellectually know about our earth and its resources, without first-hand physical experience and deep love for our nature, you can’t save it. “Where will future stewards of nature come from?” (Louv) “What is the extinction of a condor to a child who has never seen a wren?” (Naturalist Robert Michael Pyle)
And what about the simple fact that when we go for a walk and smell the air and the dirt, feel the sun, and hear the wind, our minds rest? Thoughts flow peacefully in and out. We are connecting to something bigger, to our Mother Earth, our land, our environment, our everything! It is so simple, so powerful and so peaceful.
So, Yes! Hit up the internet, research and learn your Global Footprint, but more importantly take yourself outside to play! Start and continue to enjoy, love and protect your landscapes! Immerse yourself in your natural environment! Go on a hike where you can climb on rocks and listen to waterfalls, or sit in your garden in the blades of grass or piles of snow and feel the warm sun. Or simply jump your backyard wall and build a fort in an empty sand filled lot…