This blog post was written by Rebecca Bice, former National Geographic Social Media & Promotion Intern. We’re sharing National Geographic staff and friends’ stories about nature to celebrate the Great Nature Project. To share your own nature photos of plants and animals with National Geographic, visit greatnatureproject.org.
When I think of people who love nature, I think of hikers, mountain bikers, or health nuts. I imagine a fit individual, decked out in black spandex gear with her arms spread wide on a mountaintop. That is the kind of person who really experiences nature, I thought. That is the person who gets it.
The thing is, I am not that person. I’ve hiked occasionally and even camped for the first time this summer. I did enjoy myself, but defining myself as a nature enthusiast/outdoor adventurer? I wouldn’t go quite that far.
So when I offered to write a post for the Great Nature Project blog-a-thon, I tried to recall some personal instance remotely similar to that awesome mountaintop moment. There must be some incredible nature experience in my past, despite my limited “adventuring.”
I was thinking about this when I went to dinner with a friend. The hostess said there were two options: an immediate table inside or a 15-minute wait for a patio spot. Choosing patio, we wandered outside to sit on a bench while we waited. We glanced hungrily at the happy patio diners, thinking that we should have known the patio would require a wait. It was an obvious expectation on such a gorgeous day.
But why was this expectation obvious? I thought about that for a moment, and then, I had an epiphany.
People like to be outside. They like sunshine and breeze. They like the smell of fresh air and the green potted plants hanging from the ceiling.
This is obvious, sure, and accessible—but that doesn’t make it insignificant.
On my way home I noticed more instances of everyday, urban people embracing the outdoors. I saw open windows with fluttering curtains. I saw concrete street medians filled with flourishing purple, green, red, and yellow plants. I saw flowing water and benches nearby, offering repose for dozens of people relaxing in the sun.
The Great Nature Project is about getting outside and exploring Earth’s natural wonders. It definitely pertains to hikers and kayakers and outdoor extremists, but another part of the Great Nature Project, the part that I identify with, is the part calling all people, everywhere, to appreciate nature right where they are.
That might be a wooded trail or it might be an outdoors patio. It could even be the weeds growing in the cracks of the pavement. What really matters is that people notice the obvious bits of nature that they enjoy everyday and take a moment to recognize and appreciate them. Even this small remembrance makes you a nature enthusiast, no matter how you define yourself. Because nature doesn’t just exist in the wilderness—it exists on every inch of our fascinating Earth.
By Rebecca Bice, National Geographic Education