Community Agriculture Alliance: Explore nature to unleash inner child | SteamboatToday.com

Community Agriculture Alliance: Explore nature to unleash inner child

Karen Vail/For Steamboat Today

Community Agriculture Alliance

Many moons ago, when you were a young and curious person, did you see the world through a different filter? As summer approaches and my favorite things in the world reappear in the valley, my inner child turns on full force. Plants are my deepest connection to the natural world. Do you have something you connect to that turns you into a carefree child again?

Recently, I have been reading several good books about how to read nature's signs — "Natural Navigator" and "The Lost Art of Reading Signs," both by Tristan Gooley, and "What the Robin Knows," by Jon Young.

While reading, I realized that, as a child, I was much more aware of my surroundings; I immersed myself in the oak forest uphill from the house where I grew up, and I noticed every bird, insect, type of stone, plant and the aromas and sounds surrounding me. How did I lose that as I grew older?

I think it was because I became a "thinker" rather than a "be-er." I was constantly naming and figuring out the constructs of the natural world, instead of just being there in the moment. Children seem to enjoy full immersion into what they are doing while, as adults, we have full diversion. Our minds (and phones, conversations, pressures, iPods, etc.) take control.

Don't get me wrong; We still need to be fully aware and thinking when we are in nature. But instead of thinking of what I need to do when I get back to the truck or naming everything I see, I find it immeasurably wonderful to be more sporadic, turn outward rather than inward, read the landscape and taking time to enjoy it.

Try a new trail, decipher why plants are growing there or where animals might be found and slow down. Be a kid again.

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Each spring, I have the pleasure of leading a group of collectors to forage plants for Yampatika's Wild Edible Feast, an annual fundraiser. As I observe people collecting, I see how they thoroughly immerse themselves in the task that, sometimes, they don't hear me calling them back to the meeting spot. They excitedly talk about the plants, insects and birds they saw and spout out questions, and many say how meditative collecting was. They were totally immersed and found a new world in the process. They became kids again and loved it.

Join our group June 6 and 7 for Yampatika's 16th year of collecting, learning and exploring. Or buy a ticket and join us at this memorable event at 6 p.m. June 8 at The Cabin.

For more information, call 970-871-9151 or visit info@yampatika.org.

Karen Vail is a naturalist with Yampatika.