I've never really considered myself a lover of nature. A bit of a hippie when it comes to my summer wardrobe, maybe, but a tree-hugger growing out her armpit hair in the middle of a field? Not necessarily my forte. I distinctly remember a college group camping trip that took place before Nate and I were even married. I swore up and down that I would not freak out, but we were there not 10 minutes and a giant bug swooped through the air and landed, where else? Right on me. Of course. Because nature, like domesticated dogs, always manages to find the one person who doesn't like it. The difference is that dogs just try to lick you and make you change your mind. Nature wants to suck your blood and make you cry. Needless to say, I sat the rest of the evening out in my car and (obviously) did not spend the night.
But let me tell you what mixes fabulously. Nature and running. A few years ago, one of my soccer teammates convinced me to trail run at one of the local parks. I'm not even sure exactly what made me do it, considering I walk into my own backyard with fear and trepidation, and this would involve running through the Texas woods... But from the second I stepped onto that trail, I was hooked. I've run with white-tailed deer, seen a wild hog (and hauled it in the other direction as Ann, who was smuggling a knife in her running shorts, said, "If he comes near me, he'll be bacon"), and heard tales of a panther on the loose. I've ignored countless rustlings on the ground (just in case they were snakes - I didn't want to be too nervous to go ever again) and cleared spider webs with my face. I've been dirty and sweaty and stinky. In short, all the things that I don't love, all lumped into one experience. And you know what? I've loved it every single time. Trail running is exhilarating and makes me feel more alive than just about anything else.
So today I celebrated Memorial Day with a gorgeous 6:30 a.m. trail run with Jen and Andrea, and the three of us made up some of the most unlikely people to ever enjoy running in the wild. Don't get me wrong, we had our moments. I tend to come to a complete halt occasionally, just to assess any major noises or large creatures in the brush, and we did completely turn around on the trail after an incident with a potentially stinging bug. But the point is that we did it.
Not only did I experience nature in that way, but Nate and I finally got my garden planted! In the end, we decided to do a raised-bed, and we're just growing tomatoes, cucumbers, and an assortment of peppers (starting easy). But it's in, and I'm ready for fresh produce. And I even got down on the ground with my little hoe and shovel and mixed up topsoil and compost (a.k.a. crap). It's true. Today I was elbow-deep in poo while Milo watched from his tiny little swing, and I did it all without cringing, focusing on being very mature about the whole thing. If only nature didn't involve anything creepy or crawly, I just might consider camping.
All in all, today has been a day full of things I wouldn't normally do. But you know what? I'm growing up, trying new things, and loving (most of) it. I guess a big city girl really can learn a lot in small-town Texas after all. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go put on my tallest heels and my fiercest outfit and pretend like I didn't say any of that at all.