Today’s Daily Prompt: “Describe your first memorable experience exploring and spending time in nature. Were you in awe? Or were you not impressed? Would you rather spend time in the forest or the city?”
The problem I have with questions about “first experience” or “earliest memory of” is that I have no idea about the chronology of my earliest memories. Is the memory of being on the beach earlier or later than the memory of the picnic by the river or the lantana and creek behind the houses across the road?
I spent a lot of time outside when I was a small boy. I grew up in a suburb of Newcastle that was under development and had bushland behind the houses across the road, not to mention a chicken farm at the end of the road, though it closed when I was still small. So I spent a great deal of time exploring the bush. I also spent a lot of time climbing an oak tree on a vacant block near my house.
The family went to the beach a lot, indeed we went to Surfer’s Paradise for two weeks every year. We also visited the local beaches of Newcastle frequently in summer. I remember feeding hot chips to seagulls, running in and out of the waves, watching my footprints in the wet sand get washed away by subsequent waves. I also remember building sandcastles with a plastic bucket and spade, collecting shells and sitting on the sand next to my parents while I read ‘Treasure’ magazine. I remember running at flocks of seagulls to scare them into the air.
Those seem the strongest early memories of a natural setting. The picnics weren’t as common while exploring the bush across the road was everyday. I think the frequency and pleasure of that beach experience has impressed them into my memory. They are strong memories of fun and pleasure.
Since becoming an adult I love natural settings and nature in small doses. I’m really an urban person, I enjoy an afternoon in a forest but after that take me somewhere I can get a double macchiato. I’ve been awed by the rain forests of the Daintree, the pine forests of Oregon and California, by Belougery Spire in the Warrumbungles and by the coral of the Great Barrier Reef.
It seems that the novelty and beauty of those natural settings is what does it for me. The exploring and experiencing of nature is a marvellous break from my usual urban lifestyle but give me a choice between forest and city and I’ll take the city every time. Well almost every time.
When it comes to a totally relaxing holiday then a beach resort does hold a great deal of appeal, but a good resort is a wonderful mix of the urban and the natural. I’ve enjoyed visiting Port Douglas twice in recent years with the small town, the short trip North to the Daintree, the Great Barrier Reef a short boat trip and the hill town of Kuranda in the rain forest behind Cairns with the train trip up and the cable car down (or the other way round) make for a great holiday. Just don’t ask me to live there. I need theatre, coffee shops, a plethora of good pubs and a multitude of restaurants.