Richard Louv

Recipient of the Audubon Medal

Author of the National Bestseller Last Child in the Woods

From the Blog

The Reality of Nature
in Difficult Times

For the past couple of days, my younger son and I have been trying to cure our nature-deficit disorder. Right now, I’m sitting in bed in a Bishop, California motel that, well, isn’t the Ritz. Matthew, who is 23, is still asleep, and deeply. A few hours ago we staggered across the clumped grass and mud along the Owens River, struggled to keep our balance as 40 mph gusts tangled our fly lines. We froze and sweated in the sleet as the snow line crept lower on the Sierra. Fishing was terrible, we were miserably cold, and perfectly happy.

A decade ago, as the Twin Towers burned, Matthew was 13. That afternoon, I bundled him into the VW van and took him to this very place. His brother was off at college by then, otherwise I would have done the same with him. We fled from the great pain that would lead to greater pain, and drove the six hours from San Diego to the banks of the Owens River, and parked next to the current that washed out all the sound and all the fury. That night, inside the van, we flipped down the table and ate granola bars and drank hot chocolate and watched the window screens grow opaque with a late hatch of insects. And all the next day and the day after that, we cut the electrical cord to the outside trauma, and found a sense of equilibrium.

Recently, Sven Lindblad, who heads Lindblad Expeditions, which works in partnership with National Geographic, told me that, even as other cruise ship companies took a dive following 9/11, his ships, which focus exclusively on the wonders of nature – of the Galapagos, the Antarctic, and other points of interest – filled up with clients. In days following the trauma, families with children were especially drawn to the natural world, and he credits them with saving his business. One must acknowledge the inequity; the people of the drowned parishes of New Orleans or the irradiated mud fields of post-tsunami Japan found no solace in the natural world. Still, in dark times, one human impulse is to find kinship with other species.

At the saturation point, the rush of water on a trout stream is preferable to the inundation of media coverage that, hour after hour, only repeats itself, until our response to the pain on the screen seems to move beyond empathic to gratuitous. How much of our lives is spent adrift in vicarious experience, in second-hand reality: the pain of Libya brought to you by liquid cleansers. I have been a journalist for most of my life, so I understand that the professionals have an important job to do. We do need to know about world events and tragedies manmade and natural, but we also need respite from excessive media static that so often seems drained of reality.

In a virtual world where information overload is more accurately described as information underload, a little raw authenticity and gratitude can be a welcome relief. So perhaps some of us can be excused for escaping the bad news for a few hours or days, as we lean into the wind slashing across a stream, and see the trout begin to rise, and watch a Harrier Hawk glide close along the field, and on the long walk home step over the perfectly white bones of a cow that has not survived the winter, though we did, and not only survived but thrived.

Originally published on the Children & Nature Network website.

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Comments

A nice piece of writing about reality of nature! I read the whole post and assume that in a virtual world information excess is more accurately described. Thanks a lot smile

What a beautiful entry – and just what I needed today. The tsunami and the war has sucked me into the screen and you’ve reminded me exactly what I need – to unplug and connect with nature and take my children along. Thank you:)

Awesome writer for the Reality of Nature in Difficult Times! I already read the whole piece. It is excellent for read that in practical world info excess is more correctly describe. Thanks!

Outstanding piece of writing particular in reality of nature! I’m pleased to read your expression about nature. Thanks smile

I love your writing.  Outstanding concept!  I love the term nature-deficit disorder smile

Great blog You have described the facets of nature, i remember my experience few years ago when my family and i got luckily got saved from tsunami, the travel agencies that took us to Andaman managed to rescue my 4 year old daughter, it is simply wonderful when you described the real world so correctly, as i myself has faced such situation.

What a beautiful entry – and just what I needed today. I appreciate your thinking about reality of nature in difficult times. I am waiting for your next write-up. Thanks smile

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Thanks, Very interesting read, I’ve been really enjoying checking up your posts from time to time. Looking forward to see your future posts smile.
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I really appreciate your writing , it’s not the written note but its all about your felling and experience with the nature.  Sometime nature walks against but nature is always helpful it has it’s pros and cons and we have to go with it.

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nice post.like it.

I wants to thank for the wonderful read because of the informative information and sharing the thoughts to us….

Totally agree with you, amazing what nature can do to keep things in perspective for us!

I like reading your blog because you can always get us fresh and cool things, this time you again give us a wonderful write-up about the reality of nature in difficult times. I think that I should at least say thanks for your hard work.

I, if truth be told, would like to thank so much for your advanced thought just about this good subject. This blog is exemplar of one fine piece of writing. This is my first occasion I visit here. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find it very useful. BY - Facilities Management Ireland

Hi, your writing is a nice piece of work. I think Mother Nature sometimes demands that we take a step back from our tightly scheduled world with her different weather elements. Yesterday I spent 2 hours with my three children ranging in age from 3 to 13 shoveling out from the 14 inches of wet March snow that recently landed in our yard. Everyone had their shovel and everyone was excited about getting outside. There was a snowball fight/game to keep up the interest and we ended up building a snow bench with one of our piles of snow. When the snow was cleared, everyone enjoyed sitting on the bench and observing the birds who have recently returned and the snow frost falling from the tree branch that a squirrel had just run across. We recharged our bodies in simplicity prior to reentering our home full of technology supported information and comforts. The balance was good.

At the core of our being lies an umbilical connection to nature and the environment. Everyday living dulls that connection until traumatic events outside of us shakes us awake again to appreciate the beauty of it all. Great post.

Your post is a gentle reminder that our world can be a scary place sometimes, so its quite comforting for mother nature to welcome us back just like the prodigal son. Thanks

Sometimes it’s really a great feeling to have a bonding time with our kid, that moment is always memorable and can never be payed with money. So always make a moment together with you loved ones for life is short.

Richard -

Thank you for the wonderful post.  It is often the most difficult adventures that are most remembered and most rewarding.  Thanks for reminding us of that.

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I even told my friends to take a look at your blog and in fact your blog is already bookmarked on my computer. Hope to see more of this. Great..
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The truth is life is too short. We never know when and where difficult times attack us.  Mother Nature is beautiful and scary on times. We don’t have time to think about these dangers; we are busy in our professional and personal life. Now your condition forced you to think like this share your thought with your readers. We should always live in tune with nature, by keeping our home appliances our discount filters all in clear levels. I am sure this time we got to read an article with a subject we never thought of.

Thank you for this great post about the reality of nature, It was nice to read and I have sent it to all of my friends.

Nice well written piece!  I try to share nature with my kids all the time and some our best memories are of simple trips hiking in the local woods.  Thanks!

It’s very healthy to escape from the digitalism once in a while and embrace the environment you’re living in. Great piece.

This was a lovely post to read this morning. I too want to see and enjoy more of nature. And I believe California has so much of it to offer.

By the way, I think your blog is really elegant too. You clearly have an eye for nice designs!

Nice article keep up the good work!

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