We often talk about "nature versus nurture", but what about when nature is that which nurtures your soul? For many of us outdoorsmen and women, nature is something which brings us peace, solace, and awe year-round. A trip to the mountains is like a holy pilgrimage, a reacquaintance with our roots.
For all the wonderful benefits that nature provides, it's time we provide something back. With the season of giving among us, and Thanksgiving causing us to contemplate that for which we are grateful, here are just a few ways we can show our appreciation to the great outdoors.
Support the National Parks
The U.S. National Park system is a network of natural wonders that every American resident can take pride in. It protects more than 84 million acres of historic land, covering diverse landscapes such as oceans, deserts, mountains, and plains. However, because the National Park service is a federal entity that subsists on tax dollars, it could always use additional support. So, if your generous spirit takes the form of giving money this Thanksgiving season, donate to this pillar of American exploratory spirit.
You can donate to an individual park, perhaps considering your favorite park or one that you wish had more financial support and resources. Or, you can donate directly to the National Park Foundation, whose funds support all 400 national parks by pioneering community initiatives, sustainability efforts, and more.
Consider Your Footprint
The greatest gift we can give to the outdoors is our commitment to protecting it. Even if for a temporary period, try participating in some environmental efforts. It can be as small as reducing your own household waste or as significant as pioneering an ocean cleanup effort with friends and family. In fact, getting together to help clean up litter can be a civilly-conscious and socially-distanced gathering for the holiday season that brings you closer to your loved ones. You know what's "in" this season? Showcasing responsibility and working toward a common goal to make the world a better place. So much trendier than connecting via Zoom.
Even something as simple as choosing a camping trip over utilizing the resources of hotel accommodations for your next getaway can go a long way.
Plant Something New
If you have access to a backyard or community garden, grab some seeds and saplings to plant something of your own. Contribute to the oxygen supply (and maybe even your personal food supply) by developing a green thumb. Some favorable flowers to plant in the autumn season are chrysanthemums, pansies, and marigolds. For plants of the edible variety, kale is an easy winter crop to start your gardening experience with.
This refers to your own awareness and the awareness of those around you. Perhaps the best way to appreciate nature is to educate yourself about it. An informed mindset helps you make better decisions about how your actions impact the natural world. And, when you spread this knowledge to your circle, nature thrives even more as a result of collective action.
Even by encouraging friends and family to visit a well-known natural site (be it a state park or a national monument), you could expand their dedication to sustainability efforts and their own personal appreciation for the wildlife around them.
The best way to get in touch with and appreciate nature is to take matters into your own hands. Immerse yourself in the wonders of exploration when you hike, camp, surf, make your own gear, consider your environmental impact, and support causes that protect the planet.