I love nature. There’s nothing finer than a gorgeous tree, the smell of cut grass, birds swooping overhead, the sound of a running brook. When my husband and I lived in Massachusetts, we spent almost every weekend hiking here. We’ve taken a tour out West to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone and thrilled at the open landscape, the timeless dance between predator and prey, the endless sky. I love animals, including the ones no one else loves. (Side note, and a GIANT WARNING if you don’t like little critters – AVERT THINE EYES: Like this guy. Poor fella/gal.) I insisted our wedding be outside in the chill of autumn so that the rusty changing leaves saved us money on decorating. Most of my jewelry is patterned after items in nature – my favorite necklace is a crescent moon, the other a circle of tree branches. My pagan heart loves the moon and the stars, and – if I ever have children – I’m sure I’ll offer forth several celestial names until I’m vetoed. People who deny climate change, litter, or who believe Mother Earth has an endless supply of candy in the cupboard make me want to ready a spaceship for departure to start a new human colony elsewhere.
But then there’s the city girl in me: the one that loves the slick pavement after rain, the neon lights that zigzag past from the back of a cab, the constant hum of activity. The view from high places here rivals that of the most lush jungle treetops. The zany fashions, the crush of people, the cursing. God help me, I love the cursing.
When we moved to New York, a few of my friends expressed concern: “Won’t you miss nature?” “What about autumn? Is there enough of that in New York City?” “You can’t see the stars in the city.” (For the record, though, you can, however diminished.) These are all good questions from people who knew me well. And they’re right – despite the gorgeous parks here, the many trees – we do not live in the country. And sometimes, I do miss it. I miss the sound of crickets at night. I miss seeing the sun set on a flat horizon (except for Manhattenhenge, which only happens twice a year). I miss the smell of honeysuckles.
If I were the daughter of an oil baron, we might not be having this conversation. Maybe then I’d have an apartment in the city and a house in the country, flitting to and fro as my impulses drive me. Breakfast on the flowered verandah, dinner in the Village. But I’m not.
So, for now, I’m a city mouse. And that’s OK. We’re here because we want to be, for the opportunity and the pace of life, and because we can. And one night in the future, at our modest home in the country, when the crickets are chirping a little too loudly, I may turn to my husband and say, “I miss the dim hum of traffic.”