How I Came Alive Outside
When children are small (at least when I was small) all that is important is play and discovery. When I was young, this very explorative attitude quite often took me out into my grandpa’s pasture that was directly behind our small house. It was something different every day it seemed; “fishing” on the ditch banks with weeds, playing on rusty abandoned farm equipment, Cowboys and Indians, trying to lasso cows to ride, you name it. He even had a pond that we built a tree swing over and we would jump off into the water. It was nasty algae water riddled with garter snakes, but it was all part of the fun. Looking back, I almost wish I was that carefree again! I would almost always come home with mud in my hair and broken nails. It was the essence of life. William Shakespeare said, “The earth has music for those who listen”. I think as a child it is important to learn early what nature is trying to say to you; to learn to speak the language and ‘listen’. If a person has that solid foundation when they are young, I don’t think it can ever fully recede. It will always be a part of you.
Of course, priorities change as we get older, and it’s not a bad thing. Looking backwards on my childhood I can see where a shift started happening in me. I got my first bike when I was about ten years old. Instead of riding cows and swimming in murky ponds, I was more taken with jumping and wrecking that poor, beat up bike. My brother and I would ride everywhere, but mostly it was around our driveway and down the dirt road in my grandpa’s pasture. It was an extremely bumpy road, worn into the dirt by the constant “stop-and-go” of my grandpa feeding the cows from the back of his truck, so in that respect it was perfect. We would have jumping and trick contests, but it often resulted in crashing because the jumps weren’t really that big. My brother even broke his arm once. So then we gained a brain cell or two and made our own jump. We found miscellaneous nails, screws, two-by-fours, and ply wood, and we constructed our own jump. From dawn to dusk we rode, and eventually my parents got a little cranky because we had worn a figure 8 in the driveway and front lawn. The rest of that summer we helped my dad build a ‘racetrack’ in the back yard by his shop. He borrowed my grandpa’s tractor, and we moved in some topsoil and rocks so that we could make big jumps and obstacles on this track. I swear my brother and I spent our entire lives out there that summer, and the next. Eventually life got busy and we got into our high school sports, and hanging out with friends took precedence over anything else… but this isn’t the end of the story.
In this paper we are supposed to answer a question. “How do childhood interactions with the outdoors continue to affect us in positive ways for the rest of our lives?” I graduated high school and went to Alaska to work, and as we all know, Alaska is the mecca for the outdoor life. I grew to love the mountains, and I also made a lifelong friend. Her name is Kelsie, and although we met in Alaska we had grown up in the same town. Even after coming home from Alaska, we continued to spend time with each other. Kelsie’s favorite thing to do was mountain bike, and so by default we would go together. This is how my current hobby was born, and the love I have for nature and the beauty of the mountains is continually growing. Everyone has different reasons why they love to be outside, but mine are very specific and personal; as I think is common for everyone as well.
Before I became a horticulture major I noticed things that I didn’t know the meaning of. Patterns and colors and smells. I noticed how I felt when I rode around water falls, lakes, trees in the fall, mud, boulders, and every other kind of scenery. They all brought different feelings to me, for example: If I had to climb over boulders I would be in a nervous excitement. It was hard! But it was also the most rewarding to reach the top. Waterfalls and rivers would also bring different feelings than a riding around a lake that was still. I did notice one thing; that all of these emotions and feelings were positive, calming and restorative. I yearned for this whenever I was on vacation or in school.
It’s really hard for me to describe in words how mountain biking really affects me, even to my very soul, but I think the famous poet, Ralph Waldo Emmerson, said it quite accurately, “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” Wild delight. Just let that sink in. Nature is a delight, no matter the hobby, and even if you’re down or sad. Do you want to know the best part? There is enough for everyone. Every single human being. Things like this are meant to be shared, and my one goal is to help people understand what being in nature does to you. It’s astounding. It’s exhilarating. It’s outside.
Our aim for the Department of Horticulture at Brigham Young University-Idaho is to nurture understanding of both the art and science of Horticulture. Students learn experimentally in the classroom, laboratory, greenhouse, and ten acre Thomas E. Ricks demonstration garden as they pursue an Associates or Bachelors Degree. Using the medium of plants, students develop habits of hard work, enlightened minds, and healthy living that assist in gainful employment opportunitues.