I don’t consider myself a judgmental person, but I felt a little judgy during our most recent outing to Washington Park in Denver. Joe and I decided to stay local this weekend, as we were all fighting colds, stomach bugs, along with the general exhaustion associated with returning to the work/school grind after a 2-week vacation. So, we decided on an urban adventure with its modern conveniences; for example we are in the midst of potty training, and access to a bathroom really helps support this process.
Urban parks are nothing to balk at; they offer amenities that provide convenience, and bring natural beauty to city landscapes. As a young adult I was obsessed with urban parks, and fantasized about cities like Portland, Minneapolis, and Denver because of the way they integrated outdoor living with an urban lifestyle.
On this particular day, however, I was not feeling rejuvenated in the way I have been as part of our 52 Weeks of Nature project. Instead, I felt discouraged by the perfect alignment of the trees, and the ownership people seemed to have over the space. I got the feeling that I needed to step aside multiple times as runners made their lap around the park. AJ would “park” as he calls it to let the masses pass by with their dogs, coffee cups, and loud voices – see this is where I am getting all judgy.
It almost felt as if we didn’t get away at all, which is what I have noticed as being a huge benefit to an outdoor lifestyle. Getting outdoors, to me, is getting away from a life of rushing from one moment to the next, a life of modern conveniences, a life spent perceiving perfection as real (ex. the perfectly aligned trees).
Nature is anything but perfect – well actually it’s perfectly imperfect, and their lies the beauty. In nature you find mini ecosystems existing with each other creating diversity of life, and beauty. Trees aren’t perfectly aligned in nature, grass isn’t mowed to perfection, and flowers don’t bloom identically (maybe some do). While I find myself complaining, I also find myself thankful for wonderful parks in our cities. I just needed something less domesticated and and a little more natural. Next weekend we are getting out of town, and farther into nature.
AJ seemed to have fun though. Joe is good at keeping things interesting and to keep AJ entertained Joe chased him, hid behind signs, and popped out to surprise us. We even stumbled upon a park, which AJ insisted that we visit. Joe, MJ and I followed AJ through the wooded, and might I add vacant structure since it was so cold and snowy. Joe even smacked his head as a result of not noticing the kid sized height of a ceiling (ouch).
The geese were also of great interest. We explained to AJ how geese fly in a V to break wind for each other making flying much less difficult, and helping them reserve energy. AJ wasn’t as interested in the culture of geese, but more fascinated by their sounds, and how they might feel.
Our urban adventure may not have been what I was hoping for, but anytime you go into an experience with expectations you are bound to be disappointed – lesson learned. Again, a good reminder for me to continue to explore nature, regardless of its setting, with an open mind. Having Joe, AJ and MJ by my side during this adventure gave me three other sets of eyes to perceive this experience with, and thank goodness! Seeing the world through Joe’s, AJ’s and MJ’s eyes gave me insight to my own experience, and allowed me to focus on the positive moments of this experience which is about family, togetherness, and living in the moment.