Pockets of Nature

I mentioned recently that I’d started geocaching lately, which has turned out to be an actual blessing.

Not only do I now have an added activity to do outside where it’s more safe from COVID-19, which provides an opportunity to get a little light exercise, I’ve found that being out geocaching has given me a deeper appreciation for the little pockets of nature that I might’ve previously overlooked. When you’re training your eyes to look for clues, you really notice things.

I’ve long been a fan of natural parks, whether local, State, or National. Although I prefer nature a little more untouched by mankind, even neighborhood parks that have been designed as parks are something. Life is flourishing in these pockets. When you’re hunting for geocaches, you notice these parks more and more. But beyond any park, what you start noticing more are the undeveloped pockets of nature, the areas that may or may not one day be long gone, buried under wood and concrete and metal and plastic.

These places give me a lift almost as deeply as our protected parks. These are not so secure in their future. When I am there, I am so mindful of the possibility that the city may claim it. It might be more accurate to say it is likely, rather than possible. This is nature, impermanent.

Yet even as I stand on the dirt and grass, enjoying the orchards that surround this nature on one or more sides, I also remind myself that everything is impermanent.

One day the chair I sit in will be gone, as will my home. Other buildings may exist here for a time, but eventually, even those will be gone. Nature will come back, in whatever form it takes. Nature, both impermanent and permanent, will persist.

I think as a country, we grow our cities in the wrong way. We do it out of what we think is a necessity. We keep things close so we don’t have to go far, so we keep our cities condensed. We remove these pockets of nature one by one, save those that are protected, and pay a price.

What would happen if we grew our cities in ways that both values our environment and works with it? What if we didn’t have 5 furniture stores on the same short street? What if there wasn’t a Starbucks in every neighborhood of the cities? What if we protected pockets of nature throughout every city without feeling the need to turn them into parks with playgrounds?

I have more questions. I can’t list them all.

I want to go out now. I’ll stand in one of these pockets of nature. I’ll study the birds, feel the wind, smell the sagebrush. My shoes will collect dust.

Go find your pocket.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

One reply on “Pockets of Nature”

I have a similar experience when I go foraging in the areas around my neighborhood. This past year we’ve discovered so many hidden trails and parks that we never knew existed that are right in the middle of the neighborhoods. We can hardly wait for Spring to really get back out there again.

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