I’ve always had a fondness for nature. A yearning in my heart to be outside among the trees. It may have started even before I was born, in my mother’s love for everything wild, however I think it started with my grandparents and the forest. Every summer was spent in the woods or by a lake, camping, fishing, ATVing. In fact I spent so much of my childhood outside that I nearly missed the birth of my little brother because I was out in the middle of nowhere. There was a time when I was outside every day, no matter what the weather was like; I’m pretty sure I was fifty percent dirt.
There had always been a certain feeling of peace for me in wilderness.
I don’t remember what made me stop going outside, it was gradual change, I guess as was with our society, technology grew alongside me and pulled me into a completely different world. I spent a majority of my young childhood outside, but my own three sisters have never even been camping, they could spend all day watching toy reviews on YouTube or the new series they found on Netflix. In fact, I don’t think my any of my siblings have ever felt the way about outside as I did when I was little.
Somewhere along the path of growing up, I lost a bit of my love for the outdoors. I still saw it, I still admired it, I just stopped spending my time in it. Tree time became screen time and I forgot about what it was like to be outside and to breathe fresh air, all I wanted to do was be inside with my phone and computer and TV.
There were a few times that my wonder was regained throughout the years, like the time I spent a week at Educo, an adventure camp outside of 100 Mile House, or spending weekends at Elkness with my class, or my graduation gift that happened to be a two week vacation on the Hawaiian island of Maui. In all these places the nature overwhelmed me and wrapped me up inside of itself. I never wanted to leave the giant forests and the beautiful waterscapes, but I always had to. When I got home, I went back to my life as it was before – inside and away from the natural world, back into man made happiness.
At the Aleza Lake Research Forest I can honestly say I regained some of my love for nature, seeing the real untouched forest floor was unlike any of the other experiences I have ever had at provincial parks and summer camps. Seeing nature as nature intended it to be, raw, thriving, living. It amazed me that even in the short distance we travelled we were able to explore at least three completely different ecosystems with different plant and fungi life. I enjoyed the time spent just getting up close and looking at the wild for what it really is.
Aleza Lake touched my heart in a way no nature has for a long time. It awoke my inner naturalist and I was completely engrossed in the world around me. The real world. For the first time in a long time I felt my love and appreciation for nature creeping back to me. So I let it. I forgot about my phone and my plans for that night, I forgot about what time it was and when we had to leave and instead I focused on where we were and how it was so different from any place I had ever been. I let the new world I was experiencing wrap me in her arms and show me what my eyes had been blind to before – how unique each plant is, how tiny insects make their way around the beds of moss and how, even though you might cut down a forest, something will still always grow there.
So I’m trying to hold onto this feeling for now, this peace I have finally found again, trying to spend more time outside and less time with a screen in front of my face. Maybe this time the place in my heart for nature will grow, rather than be forgotten.