I don’t think I’ve ever described myself as outdoorsy and yet, recently I see the possibility that I may be just that. I am inclined towards the out of doors, upon rising I stand at the front door and look out the window at the garden. I wait for the kettle to boil to make my tea and then, with notebook and some kind of device that can play music to the backdrop of the early morning birdsong, I head out. I might write something, might read a bit of the news but soon the sheer power of the setting lifts my view and my spirit. For about an hour, I stare at the garden, the tree tops, the sky, with no attention at all to anything else.
When it is time for coffee with my partner, we have one cup inside and another outside, on the other side of the house. If not outside, then sitting on the sofa, our attention to a nourishing tableau of cedars and the sky.
Somewhere in the morning is a walk with my dog, or a visit to the beach to beat the heat and other people. There we wander, run in and out of the water, play get-the-toy until we take a break and I stare at the horizon while my dog sniffs around the bushes at the top of the beach, to catch up on recent smells and activity.
In the winter we take long walks through fields, or on the sandy windswept or snowswept beach, weather permitting.
I’ve always thought the outdoorsy type did things like jump off cliffs with kites on their backs, or surf whitecaps holding onto kites, or just fly kites. I used to thing they skied down black diamond runs or over polar icecaps which qualified them for ultimate outdoorsy status. I used to think they bungee jumped, barrel jumped or log rolled, swam channels, climbed mountains, hung off of cliffs, or cycled steep creek beds.
I see now that outdoorsy has little or nothing to do with bucket list activity. Bucket list activity is about checking a box, scoring a goal, receiving a slap on the back for a daring, perhaps life-threatening feat.
Outdoorsy to me is more than just being outdoors, and less than scaling Everest or scaling a fish.
My experience of outdoorsy is my need to be under the vast sky, among some green or rocks or sand, even water, to be where the planet breathes. Birds swoop as if on a pendulum, following upside down arcs from treetop to treetop. Rabbits sit close and rip the leaves from the milkweed, one eye on me, two ears on the dog. Chipmunks travel a highway of hollow logs on the periphery of the yard. A leopard frog pokes his nose out of the mossy pond. Meanwhile new growth and new colours and new volumes of plant life slip almost unnoticed into the panorama.
All this from one vantage point. I use my butt as much to be outdoorsy as I use my limbs. I use very little skill, but vast amounts of attention, very little thought but boundless spirit. I don’t leap from rope bridges into gorges with an elastic around my waist. I don’t kayak down white water. Nor do I know a coreopsis from a blue tit. I might know when a rain cloud is bearing down on me or recognize the scent of freshly rained upon ground. But, to be honest, I know and move very little, though my eyes and ears and spirit travel vast distances at great speeds.