I’ve been checking my desktop image regularly since installing Desktop Earth the other day. I installed it because I thought it was cool – and the earth is just stunningly beautiful. But I’m finding that I’m utterly fascinated by seeing the evolution of the day and seeing the lights as parts of the world become dark. I’ve been looking at the lights carefully, noting the especially bright lights of the major cities or a squiggly line indicating a major river (the Nile is really obvious). It’s an awareness of the world that I didn’t have before. (Coincidentally, this month’s National Geographic covers the issue of light pollution.)
It reminds me of a camping trip we took to Casco Bay, Maine nearly 4 years ago. The campgrounds were on the coast, and our campsite was on an estuary. When we arrived, it was low tide and the 100ft wide estuary was almost empty aside from a trickle in the middle. I thought nothing of it – until a full moon woke me in the middle of the night and I got freaked out by the sound of water right near our tent. I looked out and it was high tide, and the estuary was full. By morning, the tide had started to go out.
Over the next week, I paid attention to the tides, lost my awareness of the hourly clock and got lost in the rhythms of nature. I realized what humans have lost by spending more and more time in cities. People as a whole would be much more concerned about the natural world and our resources if we lived more in touch with nature.
When we left I resolved that my children should grow up with a much greater awareness of nature than I did. I remembered how much I liked my occasional trips to state parks, or how fascinated I was the one time I found a praying mantis (lat summer I saw lucky #2). Homeschooling wasn’t on the radar at all, but the seed that suburban & urban lives are lacking something was planted. Blindly rushing out 5 days a week to pay the bills just seemed so empty. I wanted things to be different, and I look back at that week as being a catalyst for the dream of moving abroad and living in touch with nature that’s taken over my life.
Of course, credit has to go where credit’s due – I’d never been camping before meeting Trish. We went camping about 6 weeks after we met, and she wasn’t sure the city boy could hack it. Hack it I did, and who knows where I’d be if it weren’t for her?