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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nature-deficit disorder

... is the term coined by Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in the Woods, a book I'm interested in reading, if not for the slight anxiety that it might contain enough dry research to squelch the very sentiments it's trying to promote. Perhaps it's enough to recognize the feeling in the gut that today's children are being terribly deprived, perhaps one should just wish for a book of such a title composed entirely of joyful, exuberant poems describing fort-making and bug-watching and pickings-up of masses of wood-frog eggs from a mucky vernal pool well-distant from any road or screen, not to mention bird-listening on a real twitter account. Apparently, the research shows that unstructured outdoor play and adventure is supremely important, not including outdoor baseball and soccer games which are full of adult rules, but the walk in the woods around whose trees one never knows what's lurking, or laughing. That's what produces confident, creative kids.

I myself am suffering from NDD today, cooped up inside. That is, I should be suffering, given the insistent rain and the outdoor thermometer that I recorded at 50 this morning and then watched fall as the day continued. May 1, they say it is. I won't believe it if I don't have to.

But I'm not really so afflicted. I'm so lucky as to live free and unstructured when confined to quarters, delighting in words, and even more lucky to suffer a most delightful nature hangover from yesterday's outing: on a clear day that managed to be both cool and warm, I took a long, exploring walk of almost 3 hours through sections of town - undeveloped woods, emerald-like hay fields, seashore at low tide - that I had not yet experienced, including long snowmobile trails completely delightful in not-winter. OK, so I won't turn up the heat or light the wood stove now that it's May, and I'm a little tired of being cold, and the solution of long underwear and an extra (third!) pair of socks is frankly ridiculous, and I guess I am suffering this very false spring from a touch of NDD. Where is the March of yestermonth? But that's the beauty of us nature freaks. Who cares how we cure ourselves, the goldfinches?

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