Aug 07, 2013 2 Share

The Great Outdoors

Illustration of landscape with trees and stream

It seems to me that for all of my life, for as much as I appreciate it, I have been at odds with the natural world. My parents have always encouraged me to be outside and take in the scenic beauty of our world, but I still get a bit of the jitters whenever I am doing something in an outdoor setting. I think this might be due to how my sensory system affects me when it comes to preferring a controlled environment such as indoor settings; the outdoors is not as organized as being in a room setting, so my brain cannot process it as effectively. Sudden gusts of wind, getting my hands dirty, and being around bugs and unpredictable animals remain my biggest pet peeves with the outdoors, but once I get past them, I like communing with nature. All three of these troublemakers were out in full force with two activities I did with my mother this past week: attempting to fish for the first time in a very long time and picking blueberries.

The last time I remember fishing was at a pond in the back of my aunt’s house when I was very young. I did not have a lot of patience and gave up after a few minutes. I did not touch another fishing pole for many years after that. Recently, in a move to get me to try more new things, my mother bought a pair of new fishing poles for us to use together. After getting a supply of fresh worms for bait, we headed down to a nearby park and tried our hand at fishing once again. My feelings toward this fishing experience are a mixed bag. On one hand, the weather was absolutely perfect for being outdoors with the sun shining down between the trees. It was also warm and very comfortable with a gentle breeze that was a welcome respite from the strong winds of the day before. In addition, we shared the riverside with a family and their children who were also learning to fish. I admired the children’s persistence in their attempts to catch a finny friend and the shouts of joy I could hear from their direction when they apparently succeeded. 

On the other hand, my own attempts at catching a fish were less successful than I would have liked. I did not want to touch the worms; they were slimy and kept in dirt, so my mother handled them and put them on our hooks. Also, operating the pole was a bit more involved than I had imagined it would be. Just getting used to holding the pole proved a challenge for me. Another issue I had was casting the line forward. As I did this motion with the pole, I had to press a button on the reel to let the line out. This combination of maneuvers was a bit difficult for me to accomplish, and my cast would often fall short into the reeds on the side of the river bank. My mother helped me to make better casts by standing behind me and employing hand-over-hand instruction so I could better understand how to stand and pull my arm back to cast. By doing this, I was able to cast my line out into more open water. The bugs were another annoyance. I really cannot stand them buzzing around my head and body. When they are present, I cannot concentrate on what I am doing at all, and I just want to leave and go back inside. Neither of us got a fish that day, but I did stay and try. My mother was very proud of me for trying and we plan on going again very soon. 

Our other outdoor activity came a few days after my less than spectacular day of fishing. Since I have now started to eat blueberries, my mother wanted to stock up on a few quarts for making some of my favorite dishes this winter. So, we drove to a blueberry farm to pick some of the juicy fruits. We roamed among the large grove of blueberry bushes plucking the largest, ripest berries. We had a pail full when we were through.

I had a much better time berry picking than I did fishing. It was sunny with a slight breeze; just the way I like it, and I had no problems picking the right berries. The only issues I had were that the ground was a bit tough to walk on with all of the roots and vines in the way making it harder for me to keep my balance, and I got a few bug bites. I was not happy about this. I was, however, glad that my hands did not get very dirty; I had no blueberry stains.   

Being able to go fishing and pick berries felt fresh and new. My outdoor problems are very familiar to me at this point of my life, but I will not let them hamper experiencing new activities. I also am very happy that my parents continue to encourage me to be outside as I truly do enjoy all that nature has to offer. I just have to keep pushing through the hurdles that my sensory system puts in front of me to enjoy it all.

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I don't really have any sensory issues...but; I plain don't like some of the things you mentioned either.  I hate bugs...flying around and biting you...getting in your nose...yuck!  I also would never touch a worm...let alone put it on a hook...yuck again!  Blueberry picking in northern Michigan used to be fun when I was, I would rather just buy them.  My back doesn't like the bending up and down; but, you are young so keep enjoying picking those berries.  As you get outdoors more, I'll bet you will find other things to enjoy.  Have fun! 


Thanks for reading my column!  I think a lot of people might have problems with the outside; it is so much more chaotic and dirty than indoor environments.  I am always convinced when I come back from the park or a farm that my hands have picked up a fresh layer of caked-on dirt, which is definitely not my favorite part of such excursions. I have the same feelings as you about bugs, compounded by the fact that I am apparently very "attractive" to them.  They seem to swarm all over me like I am the tastiest meal in the world.  I know the feeling of having a bug up your nose and it is not funny at all!  I do not want to make direct contact with a worm, either; when my mom and I were fishing, the sight of the worms in our "bait bucket" was not very palatable to me.  I did not actually do a lot of bending during my blueberry picking trip: the blueberries were mostly bunched up together in the middle with a few straddling the lower branches which I did have to carefully bend down to pick.  In fact, my biggest concern that day was the giant bugs that were zooming everywhere!  I did greatly enjoy picking berries, though, and I would like to do so again very soon.  I have had a few more opportunities to get outside recently, and I have found more activities I like.  Perhaps you might read about them here soon!  Thanks again for reading!