Growing Up with Nature

Hello, welcome back to my blog. Long time, no see. I have been working on some other important matters. But I am back and for this blog post, I will share a little bit about my experience with nature growing up, and how it has affected my relationship with nature today.

Growing up, like most other children, I was an especially curious kid. Whether it be whipping open drawers all over the house, tearing into my brother’s vast CD and magazine collection, or diving into the refrigerator in search of various foods and condiments, I was always exploring something new whilst creating a massive mess. As a child, I was not nature’s biggest fan, but I did enjoy occasionally playing outside, especially when visiting my Granny and my cousins in Durham, North Carolina. I grew up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, nestled between the Appalachian range to the west and the Coastal Plain region to the east. And let me tell you, there is not much here. We did not have many monumental mountains or beautiful beaches that were readily accessible to look at and explore. So, we had to make do with what we had: always-changing weather.

The thing I remember most about growing up in North Carolina (and it’s still true to this day) is the distinct seasons. I enjoyed competing with my family to catch the most snowflakes on our tongues or to create the best snowman in the winter. In the spring, I tried to capture and raise creepy caterpillars into bewitching butterflies, marveling at the magic of metamorphosis. As summer approached, I spent my time playing hide-and-seek tag, slyly navigating through the forest of oak trees like an Eastern gray squirrel trying to escape from a red-tailed hawk. During autumn, I laboriously gathered all the leaves together in the backyard and realized all my hard work was paid off as I leaped into the air and landed softly on the bed of leaves. No matter the weather, I was curious about all the different pieces that made up the largest and most intricate puzzle: nature.

Come middle school, technology was on the rise and it was all everyone wanted. As a gift for graduating fifth grade and to prove my maturity, I received an iPhone. Although I was really excited to have a phone, I was unaware of the consequences it would have on my relationship with nature. In middle school, I was more concerned about my wi-fi connection than my nature connection. I lost any relationship I had once created with the outside world in elementary school and became less interested in all the factoids about the different plants and animals that thrived in certain habitats. On the rare occasion that I did go outside, I was always more focused on getting the perfect picture of the peonies in the garden rather than simply appreciating the beauty of the flower. My relationship with nature was always changing, but sometimes not for the better.

I do remember, however, taking a trip to this park close to our school in 6th grade. We did team building activities there, but we also learned more information about the animals that dwelled there and how to identify them by using a dichotomous key. Additionally, we learned about water quality and other important topics surrounding environmental science. That park happened to be Haw River State Park, the same one I would visit nearly 5 years later. Although I do not remember all the specific animals or all of the different findings regarding water quality, the field trip planted a seed deep down that would grow to be a rekindled interest in nature that would come alive again in the future, when I least expected it.

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