Growing up, I was a total bookworm and not exactly an outdoorsy kind of girl. Shocking, I know. But my parents did their best to rip the novels from my clutches and drag me along with them for hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing, camping, horseback riding, and our annual summer vacation to explore a new touristy destination somewhere in the US.
In the early years it took a LOT of ice cream incentives to drag me along, and I still have more fond memories of the Dundee ice cream stand than the trails we hiked on to get there. But over time my parents’ sneaky mission worked, and I learned to love nature. My senior year in high school, when it was finally my turn to select the destination for our family vacation, I surprised everyone by choosing the Grand Canyon and Sedona, AZ. Not at all urban or booky. And I have to say it is still one of my favorite vacations I’ve taken. Full disclosure: I am a structural engineer and that trip did involve putting on a hard hat and touring the inside of the Hoover Dam. But that was only the icing on the cake. What I will always remember are the incredible vastness of the Grand Canyon and the shimmering beauty of the red rocks in Sedona at sunset.
Now I’ve come full circle and am embarking on my own sneaky mission to teach my daughter the same love of nature. She doesn’t require nearly as much ice cream persuasion as I did, eagerly adventuring to all of our favorite nature spots each summer. This little girl catches worms and insects with every bit as much enthusiasm as she sniffs flowers. I couldn’t be prouder. And of course we take books with us everywhere we go!
But recently, as I’ve begun preparing for my first Words in the Woods Retreat, it’s occurred to me my relationship with nature has shifted once again. These days I find the outdoors inspiring in my writing and instrumental in making my life decisions. Rather than snapping a constant stream of photos of the natural beauty, I’m content to relax, enjoy, and reflect outdoors. The golden glow of light reaching me through a canopy of leaves. The cleansing scent of morning dew. The warm kiss of sunlight on my cheeks. Sigh.
Think I’ll come home from Words in the Woods bursting with story ideas and ready to embrace the new opportunities life has recently presented.