Conservation Minnesota

The Armchair Environmentalist

Long ago, when I first plunged into environmental advocacy, a colleague said, “I’ve never spent so much time indoors as I have since becoming involved in this stuff.” By stuff he meant legislative hearings, staff meetings, speaking engagements, and desk time.

It’s a paradox that not only professional advocates, but many citizens outside the field do much of their thinking about the outdoors, indoors.  It could be a worrisome trend.  Nature through a computer screen, window, or windshield is nothing compared to the real thing, and the wonder, healing and fun it inspires.

But the demands of time, family, work and money are keeping many people who love woods and lakes indoors more often.

It’s also easy to forget how something as simple as a neighborhood walk can create lasting memories, especially if taken with a companion.  I remember vividly an early evening walk last September in slanting sunlight and a healthy breeze, with grasshoppers leaping by the dozens from the swaying grasses.

I have to remind myself to get out of the armchair and remember John Muir’s words. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

We may not have mountains in Minnesota, but plenty of good tidings are waiting outdoors.

About Dave Dempsey

Dave Dempsey
Dave Dempsey is a resident of Rosemount and author of three books on environmental subjects. He formerly served as Conservation Minnesota's communications director.
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