I can sense it coming.
The feeling starts out like a distant ache. I’ll push it back to the back of my mind in the hopes that it will go away. My attempt to keep my focus to “the here and now” will work for a while, but the feeling will soon come back. This time it will be louder, steadier, like a steady tapping on the door that just won’t go away.
I’ll try to keep my attention firmly on work or my family, but the feeling will push and weave its way to the front, sort of like a migraine, becoming so loud that I won’t be able to avoid it any longer. What started out as a light and fluffy snowflake will be a avalanche of emotions tumbling down the mountain.
What is it you ask? Mother Nature and my rural roots calling me home.
Take me home, country roads
I grew up in the country and when I’ve been away or when I’ve been stuck in the city or suburbia for long, for too many months, I start to feel lost. I find solace in everything that urban dwellers scoff at, everything from rolling, green farmland, to the peacefulness of a quiet woods.
A love-hate relationship
Now I’ve come to love the city and suburbia too. I love the chaotic hubbub. I love the speed and how everything is a little faster, a little more on the go. In recent weeks, one of my favorite things to do has been to walk the city street, where I work now, during lunch and simply watch the comings and goings. I’m sure I look like a stalker, but I love the people watching. You see all sorts of things — the best and worst of life in one fell swoop.
For example, in the span of a five minutes the other day, I saw two men come close to blows because the first guy stepped in front of the other and almost caused the guy to fall into a puddle. But that wasn’t all. I also saw a woman with her finely manicured nails, expensive Gucci bag, and stiletto heals, stop and give directions to an elderly couple who were obviously lost and frazzled. The couple, straight out of Hollywood Casting, told her that they weren’t from the area and late for a doctor’s appointment. I couldn’t tell what the woman was thinking because her cheeks were permanently locked into position thanks to botox and plastic surgery, but I was certain she was going to shoo them away with her hand with more pressing things on her agenda. Instead, she went out of her way to help them and even agreed to walk them down the block to their destination. While a small thing, it was still humanity at our finest.
To the place I belong
I live a good distance outside the city — some would even call the community I call home as “backwoods” — but I still miss the calmness of rural America.
Fortunately, my first love can be easily cured. I can drive several hours to see my family in the rural community where I grew up or to any number of parks in the region. I don’t have to go home. I don’t even need to see anyone I know. I just need to get back outside to nature in all its many forms.
If you find this a little crazy? That’s okay, I do too. I know I’m strange. I like to think it is Mother Nature’s way of keeping me sane by giving me a gas gauge of sorts that indicates how close I am to empty.
If the gauge is half or three-quarters full, all is fine. No problems. However, when I’ve been stuck in traffic for the umpteenth time or passed too many big box stores and housing developments to count, watch out. I’ll get cranky and start to make fun of city dwellers and the so-called promise of urban planning. I’ll poke fun of my compatriots and their need for first world privileges. I’ll question if they have “the common sense that their mother gave them.” I’ll question how they can live in a world without a tree to climb right outside their backdoor.
Country roads & more:
Country roads, take me home
So, of course, the natural next question is: where does the gauge stand right now? In fact, it’s not good. My Mother Nature Energy Gauge has been empty for quite some time. It’s bone dry.
Thankfully, I have a free weekend coming up in a few weeks. It can’t come too soon.
I’m thinking a hike up a mountain that’s two or so hours from my home. The trail will be a tough one this time of year with the temperatures in the 20s and the nearby waterfalls will be iced over, but it’s just what the doctor ordered.
Trust me on this one. I need to get out of the house. You don’t want to see me when I’ve been away too long.