I used to think I was a city girl. I’ve always lived in cities; large, ginormous, and even a smallish city. I started life in a moderately large city filled with parks and a river, a state forest close by, museums, and myriad other things, including poor job opportunities and high crime, which is why we moved. The smallish city was probably the worst because there was simply nothing to do. There were few parks, not even a Wal-mart (this was before Wal-Mart realized that money was sitting around unspent in Small Town, America, and proceeded to plop one in every town that had traffic lights.), and very little for a twelve year old to do. Then we moved to a ginormous city filled with millions of people and pollution. Sure, there was stuff to do, and places to go, and once in a great while we WENT.
I liked hustle and bustle, things to do and see, even if my parents were rather boring and never did any of them. At least if it was there, the faint hope existed that maybe we could convince them to venture out. At first when I was in the smallish city I thought that was what I missed, but after moving to the ginormous city I realized it wasn’t the city itself I missed…it was the parks. Sure there were the tame little parks with swings and slides, and while that was fine when I was little, as I grew I wanted to hike trails and pretend I was an adventurer. I wanted to gaze upon the majesty of the Mighty Mississippi and remember that power of nature. I moved back to the moderately large city when I grew up. It still has high crime, low paying jobs, and crappy schools. It also has beautiful pockets of nature, over a hundred acres of old growth forest smack in the middle of the city, and parks of some sort (tame or trails) in most parts of town. Sure, there are areas that make me want to weep; pitiful rundown buildings, run down people, and not a flower in sight.
My journey has not ended. I don’t plan to stay here forever. However, the city has taught me something about myself. I need nature. I can breathe more easily when I’m driving down a road canopied with stately trees than a road caged by concrete, steel, and glass. I like being able to escape that hustle and bustle and lose myself on trails for an hour or two. Despite its many flaws, my city has managed to grow without obliterating nature in the process, or taming it into little more than rows of hedges and neat little flower beds. I think we should all lose ourselves in a small wood now and again. It provides perspective; reminds us that nature is grander and more enduring that we are, no matter how well we think we’ve tamed it. The Might Mississippi will soon crest at record heights. Does this not remind us that we are but a handful of threads in a giant tapestry and not the weaver? Go outside and take a moment to appreciate the singing birds, buzzing bees and gentle breeze, for we are all connected together.