January 20, 2017

Camping should be mandatory for all children.  Young or old, there are so many benefits to being in the great outdoors. This is so beautifully written and certainly is an inspiration to all of us to get out and enjoy what nature has to offer.

by David Miller on matadornetwork.com

Photo: John Lemieux

One of my earliest memories is of a ravine. It cut through the forest floor like some invisible branch of the nearby Chattahoochee River, only dry, filled with sweet gum leaves and pine needles. Along the steepest walls were exposed patches of Georgia red clay. I loved streaking my fingers through them, taking in their cool damp smell. The ravine was probably just 50 feet from the back door of my childhood home in Marietta, and yet, to a boy of five, it was like being within a canyon, a secret world.

This was the first place I remember being drawn to. In a sense, it was the first place I ever traveled. It originated a certain feeling that continues now, decades later as I explore rivers, mountains, and coastlines from Mexico to Patagonia to the Pacific Northwest — a kind of consciousness about entering a place, inhabiting it with all of your senses, and in a way, letting it inhabit you.

At night I would lie in my bed and listen in the darkness. Even as a small child, I was aware of how the things I saw from that ravine –the squirrels, box turtles, blue jays — didn’t just ‘go away’ when I went back home. There had to be some continuation, some new form that the outside world took at night. As darkness came in the summer, the woods seemed to almost pulse with cicada sounds, frogs, field crickets. It was as if that world was communicating something, but whatever it was, we were shut off from it, snug in our bedrooms.

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