On being out-/in- side

Recently I discovered that Netflix had released Our Planet II, the second season of a David Attenborough narrated nature documentary. We enjoyed the first season, Our Planet, love Sir David: his humor and hand and body motions, grandfatherly bearing, love of the fauna and flora of our glorious but mistreated planet, his wonder and awe at the beauty and order of creation, his insistence we treat our planet better, the creative and imaginative photography, and the fact that every film he makes causes us to learn things about the world we’ve never even heard of before. So, I mentioned that four new episodes were available and that I’d like to watch it. Margie agreed. Anita said No.

And in that differential, I instantly sensed the possibility of fun.

I am writing this in June, so summer has begun in earnest here in Minnesota, green tomatoes have appeared on the vines Margie has in a raised planter on our deck, and high temperatures trip up into the low-to-mid nineties. Anita adores summer and relishes the heat; whereas anything much above 75 is too hot for me and I retreat inside. Anita goes outside to weed around flowers, transplant ferns to better positions, water dry areas, and for her it is a form of self-care, relaxation, and therapy. For me it is a form of self-care too—I mean staying inside in the AC and reading.

So, Anita said she wouldn’t watch Our Planet II until next winter. She wants the real thing not a one-dimensional representation, she said, and doesn’t want to sit indoors watching pictures of nature when she could be outdoors in it. Enjoying it firsthand, in person. In fact, she suggested she was choosing the more virtuous path. I responded that there were lots of reasons why staying indoors was better, and she challenged me to name some.

Glaring sunshine
Lack of AC
Blowing dust
Biting flies

Oh, before I continue, I have a story about ticks. A true story, as it happens. A nurse friend of ours reported that a young couple, obviously very distraught, brought their little boy into Urgent Care. His teeth had black scaly chunks of matter on them and worse, his mouth and lips and chin were covered with blood. The nurse said she sat the boy on the examining table and with a reassuring smile, asked, “Would you please tell me what you’ve been eating today?” “Yes,” the boy responded. “I’ve been eating blueberries off my dog.”

Sand in shoes
Sand in shorts
Sand in books
Uncomfortable chairs
Temps above 73
Grass stains
Distance to bathroom
Sounds of traffic
Distance from fridge
Annoying non-biting flies
Grit in eyes

Anita was not convinced, for some reason. So, Margie and I watched the first episode, and liked it enough to promise to watch it again with Anita as soon as the snow flies. Which in Minnesota won’t be too long.

There is something delightful about being able to laugh with and at one another over a shared dinner that makes life in a community, an extended family, so rich and desirable and lovely. Anita has lived with us, on and off for 14 years, and we consider her our Goddaughter. She has brought much richness to our lives and home. It’s simply a continuation of Margie’s and my commitment to hospitality, to intentionally living in community. It’s something we learned from Edith and Francis Schaeffer. Not always easy, just as marriage is not always easy, but we have never regretted it. Living in community is the opposite of the relentless loneliness that is a plague in American society.

It’s not that I don’t like the outdoors. We used to go camping every summer as a family, in the mountains in New Mexico and in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area in northern Minnesota. Looked forward to it and loved it. But, as they say, been there, done that.

Anita says it’s not like she doesn’t like nature films and shows. When she was 8 years old, she wanted to join the crew of the Calypso with Jacque Cousteau. In fact, she’d still like to. She also loved Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with Marty Stouffer. And she’s looking forward to watching Our Planet II with us when the toads burrow underground after the leaves fall.

Today it’s 86 outside, headed to 88. I am inside at my desk, sipping an Arnold Palmer, looking out at the lovely woods behind our home as I type this, AC on, fan on, blinds drawn on the sunny side of my office. Anita is sitting outside on the deck, under an umbrella, reading a book and I assume, being attacked by insects, sweating, grit blowing in her eyes—and loving it.

Photo credit: Image by Jerzy Gorecki on Pixabay