Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nature-deficit disorder (Yorktown, 11/25 and 11/27/2015)

A real term or not?  I strongly believe it is.   Just like attention deficit disorder (ADD) is, there is something to being too long away from the natural world.   While people with ADD can not focus on one thing for an extended period , I believe if you have nature-deficit disorder you need a regular nature fix or you can no longer fully focus on life or the task ahead or other things like depression set in.

I did not invent the term, or the concept.  I was introduced to it by Richard Louv in his books "Last Child in the Woods ..." and "The Nature Principle."  While maybe no literary masterpieces  (says this non-native English speaker and amateur blogger), the books introduced me to some great concepts and ideas that I intuitively knew, but never articulated.  They really are great books.  Being in nature recharges me and brings me inner peace.  Mr. Louv even has examples of bringing peace to inner city gang members by bringing them to nature. (See also this webpage on the movement he started).

Readers know I am a biologist, a naturalist and an educator who loves the outside, both the blue and the green.  I suffer terribly from nature-deficit disorder, I need to get out there after a few days (just to recharge and get my sanity back).  If you are a regular reader you should know, and just look at the labels, there are at least 21 posts where I used the term.  So on my first day off on the long Thanksgiving weekend I took off for a walk in the woods with the dogs.  It was just above freezing and sunny; perfect.

To me walks like this are like meditation, the mind goes where it wants to and you observe it.  If it goes too far you call it gently call it back.  You don't speed walk, but just observe.  But still, I actively look around, observe and take photos.  Here are a few photos I took during my walk:

Teaching my wetland class, I always walk around with my teacher hat on and had to take this photograph of three multi-stemmed red maples in a row.  A clear sign that this site may be wet, or at least as I say in my class, "a red flag."

I was somewhat surprised to find this turtle on my path.  It was a cold morning and I was expecting that they were in hibernation by now.  The dogs sniffed it and you could hear it clicking in the shell making sure it stayed closed. 
Right after seeing the turtle I was struck by the way the sun was shining through the trees and striking the ground, the trees, and my face.  I just had to take this picture.   At home I converted it to black and white.   
I found it so encouraging that the outdoors store REI started the #OptOutside movement for Black Friday.  They did not open their stores on Black Friday  and encouraged their employees to enjoy the great outdoors.   We did the same, we took the sail boat out and enjoyed blue nature. It all fits in with fighting Nature-deficit disorders.

Enjoying Blue Nature on Black Friday.
Being out there is so important to me.  Try it, it is good for the soul, the mind and for those creative juices.

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