I once read an essay by Stephen Jay Gould in which the author talked about how crucial it is for one to know his own local geography and place-- for many reasons, one of which being our civic-mindedness. Without being intimately acquainted with our own landscape and local flora and fauna, he said, we can't be educated voters. I'm a Northern California girl, born and bred. My own geography is red clay hills, a roiling ocean, blackberry brambles, oak trees and redwoods. What care do I have, beyond an academic sort of appreciation, for Great Lakes or Amber Waves of Grain? My consciousness, my voting, are rooted in my relationship to the place I live.
I fret about raising a kid in an era of technological over-saturation. So many kids are engulfed by TV, computers, hand-held electronics. Time outside is rare and it frequently means being shuttled to and from organized activities. I read about Nature Deficit Disorder and Free-range parenting and it all really resonates with me. Of course I want to avoid childhood obesity (the result of lots of screen time along with poor diet). I also want my child to grow into a passionate and engaged adult. I want him to have a connection to his place, his history, his culture.
Our reality is a fragmented, atomized suburban existence. My dream is an integrated "village" of extended family and a love of our place. So we throw dinner parties and we try to get to know our neighbors. We grow some vegetables and herbs and we hike on the weekends. Lately I am including "more nature" in my cultivation of a more intentional life.
This week we will be going camping down south in the redwoods, our first of such trips for longer than an overnight. Truthfully, I'm a bit worried we will get bored. But I hope to come back a bit tanner, a bit lighter, and a bit more grateful for my fluffy eiderdown and soft bed. Plus, I'm looking forward to the s'mores.
Bye for now!