February 21, 2013

The pleasure of going home

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; the wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. Awakening from the stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying as best they can to mix and enrich their own little ongoings with those of nature, and to get rid of rust and disease."
~ John Muir, "Our National Parks," 1901


Isn't it fascinating that John Muir penned those words more than a century ago?

Numerous studies today report that more of us are feeling the need to "unplug," "de-stress," and "digitally detox." Hotels are setting up special programs to "leave your mobile devices at the check-in." Youth camps promote their lack of Internet connections. And numerous studies warn about the long-term ill effects of children spending too much time indoors.

arbor

Now, I'm not one to preach. When my kids were growing up, I let them watch TV and play video games. While I'm not really an early adopter, I tend to embrace new technologies before most people of my generation. And I find it hard to be away from my smart phone for more than a couple of hours. Here I am writing an Internet blog post about the importance of "unplugging."

woods

So this is a wake-up call to myself as much as anyone else. I'm happy to have my smart phone along when I hike, ski, or garden. It offers a level of security. It helps me with navigation. And it's handy for capturing photos at moments when I don't feel like being tethered to a heavy camera...and then a beautiful image, scene, or memory appears out of nowhere.

lake

But sometimes I need to remind myself to turn it off...to rest, recuperate, and reconnect with nature. Just as John Muir so eloquently recommended all those years ago.

36 comments:

  1. That's why I (and I am sure some other gardeners) garden - to find peace and to de-stress. Your last picture is wonderful, the light is superb. Which heavy camera do you use?

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    1. Yes, so true, Masha! Thanks: Of course, all the photos are from archives because I'm tired of winter scenes and want to "unplug" from them ;-). I use several cameras, including my iPhone. I have a Kodak EasyShare, which is lightweight and takes better pics than my iPhone 4S. I also have a slightly higher-end Olympus camera with a decent optical zoom. Nothing very fancy, but the strap around the neck thing sometimes bugs me.

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  2. The last few times I have been to the "wilderness", especially our national parks, I have found them far too crowded and choked with traffic. John Muir is right about unplugging, but that's why I garden at home and rarely travel.

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    1. Yes, that's happened to me sometimes, too. It's fun to find a little off-the-beaten-track hiking trail or to visit the parks on off-days, I guess. I thought of that with the quote about mountains and it being from the "Our National Parks" book, but the spirit of the quote seemed to fit my mood. I'm looking forward to some warmer weather when "going home" (even in my own backyard) will be easier and more comfortable. ;-)

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  3. Gorgeous photos . . . I agree with Ms Fox above, I enjoy my garden creations and spaces
    more than the crowds of the national parks. The premise though of getting out into the open air, lifting our eyes from our smart phones, iPads etc is most important. Like in anything . . . there needs to be balance in our technology worlds . . .
    Get outdoors and see, breathe, listen . . .

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    1. Thanks, Lynne. Just a few summer photos from the archives to take me away from the winter. I'm finding I have to make a conscious effort to put away the technology, which is a bit scary. So, I'm going to try to do it a bit more--especially this spring and summer.

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  4. I'm not much of a technology person. It took me a long time to decide to blog. I have a regular old cell phone I use for emergencies. I like to get out in the garden and listen to the birds. We are very lucky here in Tennessee because there are so many parks to go to and it always amazes me that most of the time they aren't crowed at all.

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    1. We have quite a few quiet parks here in Wisconsin, too. Not so much in the cities, but plenty of them in the more rural and wooded areas. It's funny that you mention the birds--they were chirping away today when I was shoveling the snow. Had me thinking fondly of springtime!

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  5. I am definitely a late adapter, I will get any given device only after most kids in high school have it. I carry my smart phone around with me, which means the office is always with me - a definite mixed blessing. When I garden, however, I usually leave the phone inside, which makes for a much more serene experience.

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    1. Yes, same here with the office...er, smart phone. I need to make a conscious effort to put away the technology, though. I'm pretty much tied to my computer and/or smart phone all day. Need to remind myself to stop, breath, and head outside...even if it's snowy and cold.

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  6. Agree! I have been in the same path of reflecting how important is to un-plyg from the constant multi- connection, etc. I am going back to use note pad, moleskines, pencils, you know all that "vntage" demodé tools! I feel I do not know whow to write anymore! I am encouraging mysef to go back more often to notebooks, it is giving some kind of peace and mental orgnization. This post is a good reminder!

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    1. Lula, that is so wonderful to hear! Sometimes when I write my blog posts, I use an old-fashioned, paper-filled notebook, and the words often come easier that way. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. Something about it is just more...organic! :)

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  7. For a few minutes, these beautiful photos took me away to a place called summer. Boy, do I miss summer.

    Wonderful post!

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    1. Thanks, Donna! I find myself thinking, "Don't wish away the days!" Because before I know it, spring will be here in full force and I'll want time to slow down again. Something about being on the brink of springtime is so rich...and yet so difficult.

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  8. I find that although I'm quiet quick on the uptake of new technology - I tend to be rather afraid of it!!
    I enjoy the solace in the garden - usually with the digital radio playing in the background!!
    Super pictures!

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    1. Thanks, Angie! This time of year I need "warm" therapy. Re: technology...it definitely has its pros and cons. I need to make myself pull away from it more!

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  9. Just yesterday I changed the background on my giant classroom Smartboard to a field of sunflowers. I was desperate for a bit of nature, even if it was just a bright picture. My students love it. I don't have a smartphone or an i-anything. But I do spend way more time on the computer than I use to. It's definitely not always a good thing but it can also be a lifesaver when I want/need to connect to other gardeners. :o)

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    1. I hear you regarding the Sunflowers! I'll bet you have mixed feelings about springtime/student motivation?! And yeah, I have this weird dichotomy of forces going on--the techy stuff and the organic, back-to-nature tendencies.

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  10. First Beth where did you take those pictures...fabulous. I too was struck that Muir said this more than a century ago....I think our winter here keeps me indoors too much and I crave being in nature. Hanging the suet feeders and watching the woodpecker antics helps. Because I crave nature like Masha I garden. I only have a work cell so I do not take one with me when I am outside in nature, but I bring my camera. I do need to find some time that has me less connected...maybe some electronic free times and zones.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. Yeah, they're just photos from the garden in previous summers. Well, the last photo is at the lake in the early springtime just at bud break. I think the winter blahs do a number on me, too. I want to be out in nature, but all I see is evergreens and snow. ;-) That's a good idea to set aside electronic-free times and zones!

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  11. Remembering to switch off can be really hard, can't it. I discovered some years ago that I need to remember to go out for walks without a camera sometimes, particularly when I am with friends or family. I got in to the habit of viewing life through a lens, and although it provides lots of pleasure in later years being able to look back on captured moments, there is a unique pleasure in being truly present. Its why I never garden with the radio any more. But if something happens to our internet connection, I am a lost woman!!

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    1. So well said, Janet! Before I started blogging, I didn't have as much trouble leaving the camera behind. Now I feel like I might miss something if I don't take it along. I totally agree, though--if you're always tied to a camera or a smart phone or a computer, you aren't truly present with the moment...or with the people you care about. No Internet: scary thought!

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  12. Not having had all of these "toys" for that long of a term, I can easily turn them all off. I love technology...and trying new devices...and this is a woman who resisted getting a cell phone until last year. We have only had a computer for about 6 years...

    They will need to pry it away from me.....

    Jen

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    1. I know, I have to pry myself away. Sometimes I find myself working on my computer from morning until midnight. That's just wrong! (Even when I'm having a wonderful time visiting blogs and viewing garden photos.) ;-)

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  13. I enjoyed this post. I was just talking to Larry about how I used to watch no TV and we had no computers and such. I had time to garden and also, did much more book reading. I am trying to turn things off earlier in the evenings, especially on work nights.

    Your photos are lovely.

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    1. Thanks, Sue. I really find that I have so much more flexible evening time in the spring and summer after the main TV season is over. I watch sooo much less TV when the weather is nice. Of course, all the time is simply transferred over to puttering out in the garden! ;-)

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    1. Glad that others agree. I'm definitely a work in progress when it comes to unplugging the electronics. I guess it will always be a balancing act!

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  15. I'm also addicted to new technologies and I also love nature. It's so strange...
    P.S.: Your garden is simply awesome! <3

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    1. Thanks, Dona! I'm craving lush, green plants and warm breezes! Happens to me just about every year in February. And I have the same tech/nature split personality. I enjoy both, so it's a tough struggle.

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  16. The best off-the-beaten-track I know of is my garden. It is quiet, no on else around except my cat and I can basically do as I please :-)
    Although I am pretty savvy when it comes to computers, and I have had a computer at home since 1991 (Windows 3.1, anyone remember that?!) and Internet since 1998, I still haven't got a Smart phone. I simply don't see the need for it, my trusty old Nokia rings and sends text, anything else I need I can do on my laptop.

    Loved your photos, reminds me of things to come, spring should arrive in a couple of days here in London but not much chance of that with the cold weather we have!

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    1. Yes, the garden does it for me, too. ;-) Basically just getting outside anywhere and digging in the dirt is such good therapy!

      I just found out that today was supposed to be some kind of "unplug" celebration, so my timing was good or off a bit--depending on how you look at it. ;-)

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  17. Nature sometimes has the last last laugh on technology. Yesterday the cable went out, both internet and TV. It did not come back until tonight and even now it is going in and out. Nature really has the last say on being unplugged.

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    1. Those tech-less, but not by choice, days can be frustrating. That's about the time I really need to send an important email or work on a critical project! It's tough, but that's about the time I pull out a good, old-fashioned book. ;-)

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  18. I have just been reading some of John Muir's writings! He complained so much about the cities of his day; I can't imagine what he would think of modern society! After several days at work, I just have to get out in the garden. Maybe we don't recognize it, but we all yearn for a connection to the earth. Why else do city people in skyscrapers have plants, if only artificial ones, inside their homes and offices? It is something we NEED.

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    1. We'll have to compare notes, Deb. He was a fascinating person! Regarding the need to connect with nature: I think that's why I have trouble with the winter lasting so long. I really want to get out and dig my fingers in the dirt, but it's still too cold!

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