Vacations are the best, right? Nothing beats the pure joy felt as you cheerily wave goodbye to your jealous coworkers and walk out the door of your soul-sucking job to experience if even for a few days what it’s like to be an actual human being once again.

Though I’m a city gal in most regards, my favorite destinations are those that take me away from the smog and congestion of LA. I love getting my Thoreau on in the great outdoors, and it’s during these trips that I typically have some grand epiphany about my life and what’s been missing from it. Quite the “Aha!” moment was had earlier this year upon visiting Yosemite for the very first time. The internal dialogue went as follows: “I love nature! This… this is what life is all about! I’m going to come here every year! And I’m going to hike El Capitan next spring. In fact, I’m going to hike it every spring. Every single spring!

Hand in hand with these life-changing revelations is my newfound scornful eye of modern society. Suddenly I have an urge to read all those issues of National Geographic collecting dust on my bookshelves. I drive through the city bemoaning the once pristine land that has been sacrificed to the strip mall and office tower gods. A single tear falls from my eye upon hearing that a half-dozen area beaches have been closed due to some unfortunate industrial waste spill off the Pacific coast.

But eventually those tree-hugging warm fuzzies begin to fade away. Life resumes its former shape and my Leslie Knope enthusiasm gives way to Ron Swanson cynicism. Nature is still cool, but only when it doesn’t get in the way of my life.

I like to run, and because I consider myself a nature-loving child of the earth, I choose to run outside. You will never find me in some soulless gym surrounded by exercise zombies going nowhere on their treadmills and elliptical machines. Give me the fresh air! Give me the many purple and yellow blooms that speckle the neighborhood trees! Give me the white puffy clouds that look like white puffy kittens and puppies! It’s all so beautiful and magical and wonderful… until I have a run-in with one of the many creatures that also loves the great outdoors. What was initially a leisurely jog turns into an impromptu hurdles race or all-out sprint upon encountering the numerous raccoons, possums and skunks that are my neighbors. Have you ever seen one of those things up close and personal? They are some scary mofos. I’ve seen raccoons as big as baby horses. And the possums? Not all play dead. Sometimes they prefer to chase you.

Nature also gets on my nerves when, instead of an alarm clock, I’m woken up by a sneezing fit. Perhaps Chicago has its minus zero wind chills and multiple feet of snow, but at least I never suffered months of raging allergies because of them. Los Angeles on the other hand… Not cool. Not cool at all. Those precious little flowers I love so much when running? They’re not quite as appealing when I’m trying to write but am distracted by the tears and mucus clouding up my vision and ruining my keyboard.

So there you have it. I hate nature… No, not really. I just wish it wouldn’t hiss at me. Or give me rabies. Or force me to stick tissues up my nose because I’m lazy and don’t want to blow it every five minutes. Is that too much to ask?

Image: Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 Responses to “Back To Nature”

LOVE IT. On my travels, some of my favorite places have been secluded towns with houses tucked away behind forests. That is, until the mosquitoes start biting, or my hosts ask me to pick a vegetable from outside and I get dirt on my clothes and under my fingernails, or they tell me to beware of the deadly snakes that come out every now and again. What the heck?! Can’t we just have the nature without the… nature?

May 20th, 2011

YES!!! I totally agree! I hate admitting this, but sometimes nature is just really, really annoying. Ha!

May 20th, 2011

I hadn’t seen a possum up close in years until recently when I was walking my dog before I went to bed one night. This particular night, she was acting a little weird. She was sniffing some bushes and all of a sudden kind of shivered a little bit and started to pull away from me. I didn’t see what it was until I moved to the side and saw these crazy eyes staring at me and a little possum mouth in a snarl. We had a staredown (I was truly actually afraid that it would jump at me – who knows why) and then I bolted back to my apartment. The next night, the possum had moved a little closer to my apartment building, this time perched on a light post, a bit closer to my eye level. I was walking Maggie minding my own business when I looked up and suddenly saw that damn possum staring at me again! I had to escape back to my apartment and I swear to you that possum was stalking me. I made Nate take Maggie out for the next couple of days until I felt that the possum was not longer a threat. I agree though, less nature in the nature please.

May 23rd, 2011

That is a great story! And I totally agree… Everything about them makes my skin crawl, but the eyes by far are the creepiest. Blah!

May 26th, 2011