The Outside World, In and Around Duluth

Geography of Childhood

Geo of Childhood big

I just finished The Geography of Childhood, by Gary Nabhan and Stephen Trimble.

This is a collection of essays/stories by these two at-the-time new fathers. Published in 1995, both authors had fairly young children at the time, and this book is a collection of the thoughts and ideas they had about parenting, and why children need more opportunities to experience wildness.

The book was good, but the overall feeling I was left with was disappointment at not having read it ten or fifteen years ago, when I would have had more of a chance to get my own kids out into wild places more often and for longer. Or myself. I think that book was good-not-great, but it came to me at a time when I was receptive to its message, even if the message is coming a bit late for me.

We live just a few blocks from Lester Park, which is a great park, and my kids play there fairly regularly, but I wouldn’t call it a truly wild place. At Lester, you know that you are never more than a few minutes from some regularly used trail.

While both of my kids have asked to go out on camping trips or canoe trips, we never seem to get around to making it happen. What’s the deal with that? What is it that keeps it from happening? I know it’s not just me – people do this all the time. ‘We should get together…’ and it never happens. Is there something about being insular and parochial that feeds us? Or does it starve us? I would argue the latter, and yet from my own experience, I am clearly no different than much of the rest of society. That’s good, because I can understand where people are coming from. The not-good is that it is too easy to burrow – to be the ostrich.

So here’s to pulling our collective heads out, and interacting with the world, whether it’s easy, whether we like it, or not. Because the life outside is better than a couch.



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