Take a walk on the wild side … or at least outside

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Here it is, Thanksgiving already, and after this beautiful fall, a bit of winter’s cold temperatures have arrived. But unlike many today, I love every day (OK, maybe not summer as much), but I have noticed a sad phenomenon among adults as well as children. If it isn’t a “perfect”72 degree, with blue skies day weatherwise, there is constant complaining.
I am on a personal mission to remind everyone to be thankful and get out and enjoy weather — all weather (OK, except for severe weather). And how good being outside, in whatever capacity you choose, is actually good for us body and soul.
I am particularly concerned about how this weather phobia is affecting our children. You can ride through most neighborhoods, in the nicest weather, and not see any kids outside. No bike riding, playing basketball, or even just a fun game of tag.
We know where they are, in the temperature-controlled house with some screen in their hands. A 2006 scientific study bore this out when a large sample of children were asked to identify two groups of things — one was 10 common plants, the other, corporate logos. The sad results were that kids could not even identify simple plants but could identify over 1,000 logos. And that children as young as 3 could identify at least 10 logos.
Of course, the aversion to outside is probably more about the lure of the screen video games, You Tube and tic toc, but it is important to get some fresh air every day. Your grandma was right (again). Think of the hours and hours you spent outside, not in a pre-structured sports activity. But just to be outside — exploring, investigating, talking with your friends face to face.
And you were out there in all sorts of weather. I have to laugh every time I see the yellow, white and blue bubble design on the Rainbo bread wrapper, or as we called them back in the ‘60s, snow socks. Your mom recycled the empty plastic bread sleeves as waterproofing in your boots so you could stay outside longer in the wintertime. And we loved it.
How did society get so distanced from enjoying outside? Part of it is modern technology. Our homes, places of work and schools, have improved HVAC systems. I often think back to the days when none of us had air conditioning, at home, work, or school, and being a non-fan of heat and humidity, I wondered how we did it, and I certainly don’t wish for that part of yesteryear to return.
But somewhere along time, we went from enjoying being outside for a great deal of time, to barely walking from the heated/airconditioned home, to the heated/airconditioned car to the heated air-conditioned work or school.
We have a lot of programs in schools, and I actually asked the teachers, where are the kids’ coats? Many responded that kids don’t like wearing them anymore because, well, they don’t need them. Yes, they do. We live in the Midwest, for gosh sakes, Mother Nature’s bipolar weather area — hot and more humid than a tropical rainforest for part of the year, and arctic like other times.
Besides screens though, we seem to have found ourselves in a weather warning world. Even the TV weather broadcasters have started apologizing in their forecasts if rain is predicted on weekend days.
And how many years now have we watched “breaking news” with a news person riding around in the news van, desperately searching for the storm that wasn’t.
So, I am on a personal mission to remind everyone, that all weather (except for severe and dangerous) is good weather, as long as you dress right. Let me be the first to tell you, I am not talking about a 3-week backpacking adventure with no showers and living off what you catch to eat. But if that is your thing, great.
People are always surprised to find, that although I love nature to my core, my personal idea of camping always involves a daily hot shower and room service. What I am talking about is just getting outside for a bit. And that goes for your family, too.
The pandemic offered us all sorts of unimaginable horrors, but it had some amazing side outcomes. People because they were literally locked down at home, went outside, at least for a bit. Studies just coming out show, that people embraced homesteading style activities. Increase in gardening, going for walks, cooking what we grew and even canning. But as the pandemic restrictions wane, let’s not lose that.
For years, it has been known that going outside, even if it is just to sit for a few minutes each day, has mountains of physical and emotional benefits. So, as we gather for the holidays upcoming, be thankful for every weather day. Maybe add a good pair of gloves or boots to your holiday list.
And don’t forget the kids. I have added this simple nature scavenger hunt as an example of a fun, unplugged activity. And repeat after me, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing and attitudes.
Get out there. You will see it does you and your kids a world of good.

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