Accepting a challenge from The Natural Capitol, I'm answering 5 questions that are being passed around among bloggers. It's like those annoying memes your old high school biology partner keeps sending you on facebook, but somehow not the least bit annoying (at least for me).
1. You seem to have an intense curiosity of the natural world, how did that curiosity come about?
As a kid I was always going on nature hikes and drives with my dad. If he saw me laying around with nothing to do he would throw some snacks in the car and we would go on a nature drive. This meant getting lost in the Shenandoahs for the day or heading out to White’s Ferry and exploring the Potomac and the C&O. Also, the house I grew up in backed up to the Difficult Run Trail which gave me easy access to plenty of forest, from Lake Fairfax Park to Great Falls Park.
2. What would you change about your home, your neighborhood, your corner of the world? What one thing would you change to make it a better place?
I would stop my neighbors from over fertilizing their lawns. All the harmful crap they use just to keep their lawns the right shade of green ends up in Sligo Creek and frankly it’s got enough problems.
More selfishly I would cut down the tree in my next door neighbor’s front yard which shades the only spot I have to grow veggies.
3. Describe your most profound encounter in the natural world.
I was on one of those zip line tours in Monte Verde in Costa Rica. The highest zip line was 400 feet above the tree tops that went 750 yards connecting two mountain tops. The clouds had come in and all I could see was the next15 feet of cable as I flew along. In the middle of the valley the clouds broke and I could see the jungle 400 feet below me and the valley stretching out on either side. About 50 feet to my left a Swallow Tailed Kite emerged from the clouds heading in the opposite direction. I glanced over at him as he glanced over at me and for an instant our eyes met and we watched each other go by. It was an incredible feeling being able to share a moment with this bird while on its turf. At least now I know what my spirit animal is.
4. If you could have a conversation with any person in history who would it be, and why that person?
I would want to talk to Charles Darwin. I would like to get his point of view on the resurgence of the argument against natural selection 150 years later. On the same subject I would ask for some tips on how to deal with frighteningly stupid people.
5. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to better experience the natural world?
Similar to Elizabeth’s answer I would say slow down and “be here now.” While hiking my dad would randomly make us stop and observe our surroundings in silence to make sure we weren’t missing anything. This always brought us into the moment. I try to do this a few times during every mountain bike ride. It also gives me an excuse to stretch more and catch my breath.