Why I don’t like “Nature Walks”

IMG_20130717_103818Looking for something to do this weekend? Hundreds of online lists will suggest possible activities for your family:

  • The museum
  • The playground
  • A particular festival with expensive food, long lines and a bouncy castle.
  • The library
  • The zoo

Or perhaps…..

  • A nature walk

Hmmm…..what to do?

My family spends a lot of time hiking. So, the title may have been a bit misleading.

The term “Nature Walk” just doesn’t work for me.

Why?

To begin with, “Nature Walk” implies that nature is something separate from us.

IMG_20131016_161628As in: “Let us go for a drive to find nature. When we get there, we will leave our car, and experience nature for an hour on our “Nature Walk.” Then, we will leave nature and go home. We will have lovely memories of nature. One day, we will visit nature again.”

No! We are part of nature. It is not something you seek on occasion. Every walk involves “nature” in some way. Even dense urban areas have elements of (even non-human) nature all over if you look hard enough, be they pigeons or tough little sidewalk weeds.

Secondly, “Nature Walk” sounds completely contrived, forced and artificial: “Go take a nature walk and call me in the morning.” Walking is such a normal human activity, and the concept of doing it somewhere wild shouldn’t sound so uncomfortable. If you say, “Time for our Nature Walk” to a child, it becomes a chore. Why not “Let’s go exploring!” instead?

Finally, the term highlights how unusual this activity has become. “Remember that year we went on a nature walk, Dad, and you got all the bug bites, and swore we’d never go into nature again? Remember?” Nature is no longer considered home or a child’s play space, but rather somewhere to be visited on occasion, and listed alongside museums and zoos. When do we start calling them “Tree Museums” like Joni Mitchell?

This is funny: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/03/how-to-take-a-nature-walk-part-one

I will accept “hiking,” or “walk in the woods,” “exploring the great outdoors,” “excursion to the wilderness,” or “walkabout in a natural area.” I would be delighted to join you geocaching, camping, or cross country skiing but please, do not invite me for a “Nature Walk.”

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