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I’ve always loved the outdoors. I’m reminded of that as I visit southern Oregon this weekend. Driving in I could see snow-covered volcanic cone Mt McLoughlin, or as the old-timers call it, Mt Pitt. In the other direction, there’s Table Rock, a high and long, chiseled mesa that once served as a home and refuge for the Takelma Indians. Beautiful.

My hotel room balcony is just feet from rapids in the Rogue River, full and playing soothing music on its way to the Pacific. Also from the balcony, I see enormous pines and thousands of lichen-laden short oak trees.

This brings back memories from my time as a kid in Ohio. We didn’t have Rocky Mountains. We had the rolling foothills of the Appalachians, equally stirring in their own way. We had fields and woods, hollows and lakes, and we had farmland. I spent hours in all of them and here I developed a love for nature, the outdoors, and wildlife that’s lasted a lifetime.

My favorite color is green because it was, in my kid’s view, the most natural of colors.

The early American frontiersmen like Daniel Boone and their Native American counterparts like Tecumseh were my heroes.

I learned caught, kept, and tended tadpoles and all manner of bugs. Whenever I could in the fields or woods I froze into stillness and watched animals and birds live without human interference. I learned their names, sounds, and habits, as I learned the names of plants and especially trees.

This need to observe flora and fauna remains with me, for I still find it exciting to see something different, maybe a fox, an egret in Florida, or prairie dogs in Nebraska. I still find it exciting to see a bird or animal or tree I’ve never seen before. I remember the first time I saw a roadrunner in Arizona and a magpie in California.

Hearing birds sing in the early morning is my favorite music. Their distinctive and varying harmonies are unmatched.

In the 8th Grade another student and friend, Dave Hammond, and I built an extensive Conservation display for the school’s science fair. I don’t remember the award we received. I do remember getting our picture in the paper. Though I would not today call myself an environmentalist, a term fraught with problematic politics, I am certainly concerned for the stewardship of all creation. “Extinction” is an awful word, and “despoiled” is almost as bad.

As a kid I never felt freer, more alive and optimistic, than when I was alone in the fields or woods. Not because I had a poor family life, because I was blessed with the opposite. But because I felt connected with a kind of beauty, purity, and simplicity that could not be found even in village life, let alone amongst urban congestion.

The Great Outdoors is great because it’s nothing less than divine art. I loved it all from the moment I could walk in nature’s cathedrals. I am part of it. I am responsible for it. I love it still.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

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