Every summer from the fourth grade through my senior year of high school, I went to summer camp in the Big Bear Mountains of California. It was called Camp Oakes and I loved it!  A quick Google search tells me that it still exists with modern additions like zip lines. When I think about it now, I can smell the trees and soil. I can see the cabins with their bunk beds and concrete floors. I remember the mess hall where we gathered for meals and took turns setting tables. One of my favorite things at camp was arts & crafts.  If I spent my canteen money on anything, it was arts and crafts! It’s where I learned to make candles and where I learned to use a wood burner tool to carve words and designs into wood. I loved the scent of the warm, scorched wood. The trees in those mountains captivated me. They were so tall and lush and green. In my young imagination, they came alive at night while we slept, playing games and singing camp songs just like we did.

There were also summers in the country with my grandfather. It was a dream for this city kid. The dirt roads, lush greenery, and beautiful trees made me giddy! Nature and I had clearly bonded. In her, I found a happy place. Some moments in life cause you to recall the stripped-down, barefoot version of yourself when your favorite experiences were wholly yours.  Today was one of those days for me.

After a morning walk, I kept thinking about going to the beach. I had no plans for the day so I grabbed my camera and took off.  It was a perfect day to be there. The weather was cool but the sun was bright. After shooting some pictures, I walked in the sand along the water’s edge. The cool water splashing over my feet as the waves rolled in was so refreshing.  I focused on the sights and sounds of the moment. Mother Nature had captivated me once again.

After leaving the beach, I stopped at a local botanical garden. It was clearly a day for Nature and me to reconnect.  I strolled through the beautiful sections of the garden trying not to miss a thing. There was the sun garden, the rose garden, the sensory garden (my favorite), the tropical conservatory, the library and more. I took my time and let it soak in. 

On the drive home I thought about the day.  I had planned nothing but I enjoyed everything.  It was sort of like being at summer camp so many years ago. I hadn’t thought about what I was doing, I just delighted in it. It was clear that Nature had beckoned me to her playground. She knew how much satisfaction was waiting for me there, so she tapped me on the shoulder until I answered.  Once there I was like a small child in a toy store, amazed by everything around me but not knowing where to look first. Where she led me I found blinding tranquility and peaceful panoramas. My reflection on the day led me to ask, ‘What kind of sorcery is this?’

It wasn’t sorcery at all. No, I had been transported to a place that I’d kinda forgotten. There have been subtle reminders, like the satisfaction that comes from walking outdoors or photographing nature. The reminders were somehow deafened by the noise of everyday life. Today I slowed down just enough to hear the call of something familiar. When I answered, the response was nourishing.  The response showed me who I had become. 

Have you felt a tug or tap of something that you’ve ignored? Have you slowed down enough to notice? With the responsibilities of life, it is very easy to get lost. Justifications aside, the end result is still the same. Take a little time to slow down to hear what you’ve been missing. You might be surprised to find out who you’ve become.

“In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.”

—Alice Walker

Turtle Crossing
Lollipop flowers
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The PlaygroundWho’d You Become?