By observing my children and myself, I know that our contact with nature calms and balances our moods. It provides us with knowledge grounded in reality. It's a whole body, full sense experience everytime, which somehow also transports us away from our limited thinking and mortal bodies, to connect us with enduring, expansive life.
I can almost hear the buzz of her synapses growing and connecting as my child's understanding of the world clarifies.
Nature is not all and everything to good health. But it is a component, as important as water, vitamin C, and care from loving adults.
Back to my friend, who is not as certain as I in this need for nature. She is suspicious of dosing children without care as to the ingredients or without complimentry teaching in respect. In short, what good is nature for one child when as a culture we destroy it without remorse? How is this healthy?
She is right, of course. Nature isn't just 'nature'. It is something we understand through the filter of our culture. When we see tv ads for suvs, parked on a cliff overlooking a valley of lush forest, nature is something that we drive through and conquer. Nature belongs to the toughest and most affluent. Or we see 'living on the land' as some laughable hippy idea, as outdated as daisies and bell bottoms. We think of nature through consumerist lenses, believing in our own goodness as we save the earth by buying 'eco-friendly' cars and recycling our #2 plastics. It's a frightful image, this supposed knowing about nature without being anywhere near it.
Which is why I say to my friend, let's go out and sit by the river and continue this discussion. We'll take our kids, and we can talk about whether or not being in nature without the filters of toys, activites, or even 'education' is a good thing, a necessary thing, for our children. About our health and the health of our society. And if support for the the development of respectful appreciation for nature and holding on to the wonder and timelessness of it all begins with our society or begins with us right now. Just hanging out.