The Urban Dweller's Guide to Finding Nature in the City
While talking with a friend about life goals the other day, I said “I dream of living in nature.” He said “You already are.” Ummm…I live in the borough of Queens in NYC surrounded by asphalt, continuous construction, whining sirens, and millions of people. The idea that I am currently within nature uses the more expansive definition to include an urban area as nature. And yeah it technically is. A metropolitan is built upon the same multilayers of earth
crust as a forest is and it’s housed by people (we are nature!). Yet I will argue that it’s not the same.
So, let me be more specific.
I dream of living on a piece of land surrounded by hearty woods, pillowy moss, wild stinky mushrooms, at least 37 species of birds, and fresh hushed air. There is peace and well-being that can come from being in that type of environment. The variety of fungi species in an acre of forest alone is enough to keep a professional biologist busy for an entire career. While the quiet and solitude of nature may create a spike in anxiety for some personalities, it brings my body a sense of calm. It’s where I was raised.
Growing up on two acres of secluded woods in suburban Kansas City is where I learned to value nature’s offerings. To study the paths of deer and identify poisonous snakes. To take to the friendliness of trees as a companion when humans were too much (or not enough).