Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nature Deficit. . .

I will admit that the thing I worry most about as an urban unschooler is "Nature Deficit Disorder." Of course, if my kids went to the public school here, or any school in the city, they'd have the same problem! But then I could blame it on somebody else, to some degree. Aaah, isn't that just the luxury of having kids in school? But I digress.

One thing that makes me really sad is that my kids have no attachment to any natural place, really. When I was little I assumed that where I lived would always be mine, and would always be as natural as it was. Well. . . at least until my Rude Awakening at age 6, when we moved away from our 5.5-acre home to a new home on the lake. Not that I'm complaining about moving to the lake! But my older sister and I had a hard adjustment. Years later the land that was ours became a housing development, with 5 or 6 houses on the same lot that our house had stood on alone. Interestingly, someone fought to have our house moved (it had been the original house of Peter Gideon, "inventor" of the Wealthy Apple) and so it still stands down the hill from where it had been when I was living in it.

Now I take my kids out to my dad's house on the lake (the home we moved to when I was 6) but it has been quite sanitized over time. Rich neighbors have cut down trees and brush and re-landscaped it specifically to look like "Cotswald, England" (I'm not kidding!). And nowadays my dad always says, "When I'm gone, they'll plow this house over and build a mansion."

Soooo, my kids can't even "attach" to his land, either.

My husband and I have been talking for some time about moving to the woods or something. I used to feel incredibly desperate about this - like I and my kids are experiencing deprivation every single day. I feel a little better now that I am loving my loft apartment so much, and also after chatting with my stepsister, who just got back from three years in Switzerland. She said everyone in Zurich just heads for the mountains to hike every weekend. So I try to use the Swiss as my model in this way - and we try to get the kids out to spend the day at a very natural-seeming place (like a nature center) a couple of times a week, if possible. We also head down to the Mississippi or to one of the many Twin Cities lakes whenever we can. Luckily there is a lot of urban beauty in Minnesota.

But I am still manifesting a house in the woods! There's just nothing like being able to walk right out your own door and commune with nature for hours on end.

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