A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
Edward Abbey is one of my ecological heroes and this sentiment kept going through my head on Saturday as we hiked at Peavy Arboretum in Corvallis. It was a nice day and even though it sprinkled off and on we were prepared and had fun. In just about an hour and a half we hiked 1.91 miles – it took so long because Bug walked most of the way on his own. And occasionally he crawled along (literally) while sticking his fingers in the mud.
I’m still learning how to be a patient hiker. We rarely actually stop moving, we just constantly move very, very slowly. When he tires, which he does eventually, I throw him on my back, give him a snack, and hike briskly to make up for the slow going. When he feels revived (and he revives quickly) he asks to get down and I let him. There’s really no point in trying to say no. We may move slowly with him leading, but he’s a lot happier that way and therefore the hike is more enjoyable for all of us.
We let him run along the trail, poke at nurse logs, collect leaves, whatever he wants. Both of us are working on not ushering him along. What’s the point really? Nature is therapeutic – being outside has a calming effect and I don’t want to counteract that by constantly reminding him to move (no matter how much I want to say something…).
Here’s the thing. What matters is that by letting him crawl, stick his fingers in the dirt, look at bugs, and stare up at the trees we are building a foundation of caring for the environment. We are letting him explore, see amazing things, and form memories. He clearly loves being outside and I want to encourage that as much as I can. I believe that his desire to get muddy and collect rocks will someday translate into a real appreciation of and respect for the environment. He can’t truly fight for the environment if he doesn’t love it first.
I have a suspicion he will follow in his parents footsteps and become some sort of naturalist, but even if he ends up being an accountant or a plumber I know he will appreciate the natural world. And that will make this mama very happy.
So, for now, we get passed by people going much faster and endure their well-meaning, but slightly annoying comments about our pace. We don’t set records or see a lot of the trail, but the section we do hike we see very thoroughly.
Letting bug set the pace is something I really struggle with which is why I’ve posted about it before. As it is with the rest of motherhood, I’m trying to find balance. And as I’ve learned over the last two years I sometimes need to look at the bigger picture. Giving up distance is just a little sacrifice I’m willing to make for my son. As a bonus I’ve found a solution to not hiking long miles – I get up early and use the elliptical. That way I’ve exercised and I can focus on taking my time on a hike.
Disclaimer since this is the internet and everyone likes to get offended – I have nothing against accountants or plumbers. In fact, I have both in my family and I know for a fact that they also appreciate the environment. Those were just the first two occupations that came to mind that aren’t well known for their environmental activism.