By Ashley Boyd
Growing up in rural Texas tromping around my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ ranches made me take nature and wide-open spaces for granted. It didn’t dawn on me till I was older that other kids didn’t have 200 and 600 acres of land as their own personal Adventureland. I didn’t realize that many kids had no access to the outdoors unless they were lucky enough to have a city park nearby.
I was lucky and very privileged to have that kind of access to nature. Some of my most cherished memories are of my sister, our dog Scruffy, and a goat of ours following me on some excursion or another. We could explore all day, make up names for the trails, and never see anyone until our parents tracked us down for dinner.
It was a special time as a child that I didn’t appreciate when I got a bit older. By the time I was a teen, I was over being a “country” kid and biting at the bit to be a city person. The bustling variety of a city seemed so exciting compared to the quiet emptiness of the country. The city seemed filled with possibility and life, where country life felt like just the same old same old.
A country kid loving the city life
You probably think this is the part of the story where I realize the city life isn’t all it is cracked up to be. While it is true that reality never lives up to any teenage fantasy, I love the city. The dynamic vitality is something I love being a part of; and also, when I need to refocus or rejuvenate, I return to nature.
No matter which city I live in, I always end up looking for quiet places and natural spaces. In San Diego, it was a cove on the beach that was hard to find. In Austin, my partner and I camped out by Lake Bastrop at least once a month. In San Antonio, I joked with friends that I was going to my “country estate” when I was visiting my parents. At their house, you can sit and watch the sunset with nothing but trees to obstruct your view.
Luckily, living in Anchorage, Alaska, I can access nature on our extensive trail system and the abundance of public lands all around us.
I may not have always realized how fortunate I was to be a “country” kid, but you can bet I won’t take access to nature for granted again.
Three questions about spending time in/with nature
What do you think is the ideal amount of time for you to spend in/with nature?
Just walking on a city trail a few times a week can keep me for a while, maybe a few camping trips a year.
What does a meaningful experience in nature look like for you?
Quiet, as few people as possible, and trees!
Describe one moment in nature/outdoors that left you with a sense of awe and connection?
I remember climbing up a rocky hill in West Texas with my cousins and Grandpa one Christmas and looking straight into Big Bend National Park and thinking the mountains were so cool. I think it was the first time I had ever seen mountains before.
Ashley is Trustees’ administrative director. Her story is the third in a monthly series about how nature, getting outside, and being with land and water influences human health, resilience, connection, and purpose. Look for these stories in our monthly newsletters.
Previous stories in the series:
- Rachel’s story: Nature teaches me I’m the protagonist in my own life
- Katie’s story: Howling pierced the morning quiet