After seeing The Pine Island Paradox mentioned on Laura's blog, I promptly added it to my "on the beach" reading list. In the book, author Kathleen Dean Moore writes about her connection to nature, and most importantly what it means to love a place.
For most of my adult life, I've felt more connected to the beach than anywhere else. I worked there for 4 summers during college, and inevitably at some point during the summer, I find myself wishing I was there. But as I sat on the beach reading Moore's description of what it means to love a place, I found myself wishing I was somewhere else - home.
Other than the 7 years I was in college and grad school, I've lived my whole life in a small town in Pennsylvania. And I was never really happy there. Until I started bicycling last year. Suddenly, I was exposed to all the natural beauty that comes with living in a rural place. As I've ridden my bike along the base of the mountains, through rolling farmland, and into sun-drenched valleys, I've realized how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place.
Today while riding, another rider came up behind me and asked for directions. As we talked, he told me he lived in San Francisco, but had grown up in the area and was thinking of moving back because it was "just so beautiful here." It made me laugh, because on our trips to San Francisco (especially when we were north of the bridge in Marin County), Joe and I marveled at how beautiful it is there, and how we'd like to move. But as I've put more miles on my bike here at home, I've grown so attached to the natural world around me.
Reading The Pine Island Paradox really reminded me of our human need to be connected to nature. It also strengthened my desire to help more people get on bikes. I've lived in this area for 20 years, but I only felt connected to it when I started experiencing it by bike. If more people felt that connection to the natural world around them, imagine what a better world we'd live in.