Dating Nature

A relationship with nature. Do I have one and if so, how did it come to be?

A month or two ago people were discussing their relationships with nature in their blogs, seemingly taking it for granted. I personally felt that mine wasn’t as strongly held together but rather severed or hanging by a thread. This was before I started maintaining it.

As a child I lived in the countryside and I often come across the illusion that it would naturally give me a good relationship with nature. I moved to the city as a teen and before that I remember trying. I also remember running in the woods as a kid but as soon as I learned how to read, that became my number one hobby. In the countryside one cold attend a 4H club and I did, briefly, but something as fancy as girlscouts was located in the city. My family was poor so library books sufficed as a way to kill time. But I did read a lot of nature related ones!

I remember specific nature moments from elementary school time

We went to Emäsalo beach in Porvoo when visiting my cousin. It was the first time I remember feeling like crying because of a beautiful landscape. The feel of the wind and the look of the round stones really got to me.

I remember fearing the forests. I had to cross the woods to get to my best friend’s house and it was scary enough in broad daylight, let alone in night time. The last bit went through a field which was usually full of cows and I was afraid of them too! Same friend managed to make me believe the little bubbles in puddles were snakes breathing underwater and I’m still not convinced they aren’t.

I hated sports in school. I think it’s partially the reason I never really wanted to be outside. I’m a bookworm and my only relationship with nature was forced in the shape of berry picking in the middle of mosquito swarms. My family rented a cabin, you see.

I remember my dad on a moose hunt. It’s a frail memory and after talking to him about it, he told me he used to work way too hard when he was young. As a reminder, he’s got worn out and broken bones. He’d love to go on a hike with us but it would be too much of a strain.

My mom’s place in nature is in gardering and berry/mushroom picking. The freezer is always full of both. Even when she’s putting more stuff in.

In the countryside, nature was more for work and nourishment and less for fun. You build nature destinations in the countryside as well: a cabin, a lean-to, a hut. Who’d go out there just to sit on the ground?

As an adult, nature works in the background

I used to have a Summer cabin. It represented nature in another lifetime. I wouldn’t even consider one nowadays. As a realist, I know I’d only visit it every once and a while. Besides, I have all the Summer and Winter cabins I want at my disposal – all I have to do is walk into the nearest National Park and enter a wilderness hut. Or a lean-to. Or a tent. One for every night! The materialist in me dreams of a cabin such as the Tappuri hut in Pallas-Ylläs National Park. But reason bellowed: why would you want this all to yourself? Exactly.

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I haven’t had that many nature lovers boyfriends. A fisherman, sure, but he too saw nature as a source of lumber. I’ve had a dog for a long time so I know my way around hiking trails.

A few years ago it hit me. What’s stopping me from being an adventurer?

I’d climb onto fells, test my legs on forest trails while carrying a tube backpack. I’d sleep outdoors. The practice of it didn’t happen overnight, though. In past relationships I would’ve never put my own hobby before theirs. I adapted.

With Heikki my life has a good base to build on. We both get a say and when one suggests something new and often crazy, the other is on board. Fortunately it’s easy to take Heikki out there as long as he gets to bring his camera. I’m still pretty sure that I’m more into all this than he is but it’s okay. As long as I know how to lure him out.

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I’m a busy hiker

Even though I keep sayng I don’t know how to do anything, I’m in charge of food and accommodation. I also know CPR and have some knowledge of flora. I used to take photos as well but after realizing Heikki takes one million pictures per trip, I left the camera at home. I also keep the campsite clean or keep myself busy in other ways.

So I don’t necessarily know how to just sit and admire the view. Maybe later. Then again, I don’t feel like I know how to do much, save for lighting a fire with a single match. In the time it takes for someone more experienced to set up camp, whittle spoons and bust out a five course meal, I’m still banging pots and pans together. I prefer to pitch my tent in secret. If I’m accompanied by someone with less experience than myself, I have more confidence but only by default. I mean, what would they think if I didn’t know how to do this? I’m alone so rarely that I’m not entirely sure how well I have this covered.

I might be facing a fundamentally different kind of year, the kind to help me shed the pressures of insecurity and cleanse my relationship with nature. You see, I got accepted into the Wilderness Guide adult education program. It’s a year-long education, which contains only a few days per month of studying in school grounds. And as per usual, I’m positive all the other attendees have years and years of experience over me. I have a lot of work to do to absorb everything but damnit, I’ll do my best. I’ll be keeping you posted on my progress and (hopefully) my feats of success.

What’s your relationship with nature like?

//Anne

 

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