There are nature people and there are people who don’t do nature. Though I don’t understand the people who don’t do nature, I will forgive them if they want to skip this post, because it is all about my love for nature.
One of the absolutely best parts of being semi-retired (or fully retired, though I wouldn’t know by first hand experience) is the chance to pursue interests that I wouldn’t otherwise have much time for. Nature/natural history/outdoor and active travel is one of mine. We don’t live near the mountains or the oceans or large National Parks so we fill this interest on vacations and in less dramatic ways by volunteering with nature organizations and visiting state parks and other more modest but equally delightful outdoor locations.
This past weekend our Master Naturalist group met for a state conference at Cuivre River State Park in Missouri. I had never visited this state park on the Eastern side of the state. In a state with some great state parks, this is one of the best. Though the park is North of the Missouri River it has a landscape more like the Ozark Hills. I took mini-classes on insect interactions with plants, invasive diseases and insects that threaten some of our most gorgeous forest trees, and big river ecosystems. We camped in the state park, popped corn over the campfire with friends, and met lots of other nature nerds.
October is usually one of the best months in this part of the country. It is cool enough that mosquitoes and humidity are not a problem but usually warm enough to be comfortable. The leaves are changing colors. It could have been cold and rainy. But it wasn’t. It was perfect!
We joined this organization four years ago and I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned. And how much there is to learn.
What are we encouraged to do in order to stay healthy and happy as we age? Exercising, learning new things, and building social networks. How lucky I am to have an avocation that fills all three. Exercise doesn’t feel like a chore when you are trooping through the woods looking for interesting mushrooms. Learning about birds from avid bird watchers is a hoot – especially if it involves owls. And sharing interests is a great way to make new friends.
What else? - dancing to a blue grass band in the open air – even convincing Bill to join me, walking around camp in the moonlight, the constellation Orion in the early morning, getting to learn from experts who love sharing…
What passions are you exploring in your retirement? What new things have you learned? How do you share it?