Braving the Elements
By Lee Pitts
As part of my ongoing Take An Urbanite Outdoors Program, I recently took an 18-year-old boy outdoors at the request of his parents who are worried playing video games and texting with his friends 14 hours a day might somehow inhibit his development.
I met Drew at his bio-containment facility, his house, as the COVID-19 crisis was easing and where he’d been sheltering in place for the past 18 years.
“Now Drew, to introduce you to the wonderful world you’ve been missing, we’ll start out real easy by taking what is known as a ‘walk’ from your house to where I live on the edge of a big state park. Can you remember the last time you went outside?”
“Yeah, it was terrible. The Internet went down, and my dad made me take out the trash. It was real scary, and I couldn’t wait to get back inside. I still have nightmares about it.”
“I can tell by your pale skin and flabby body you don’t go outside to play baseball, basketball, soccer or football with your friends. Don’t you like sports?”
“What you talkin’ about man, I play video football all the time. Madden is rad, and the Ravens are awesome.”
“Did you know ravens are actual birds that live outdoors?”
“Yeah, if you say so. Hey, what’s that bright thing shining in my face? It’s hurting my eyes.”
“That’s the sun, Drew, and if you turn your cap around, the bill will shade the rays from your eyes. That’s why there are bills on caps.”
“Hey, that’s pretty cool,” said a shocked Drew. “It works pretty good. Who would have ever guessed?”
“Oh no,” he exclaimed as he assumed some sort of karate-like defensive position. “Who are they?”
“They would be your neighbors, Drew.”
“Oh no. My dad says they’re evil. The mom gardens, whatever that is, and the father drives real big cats. Can you imagine? Do I need a can of mace, a taser gun, maybe even a real gun? Should we call PETA or 911?”
“No Drew, just wear your mask, practice social distancing and you should survive the encounter.”
“Hey, what is that?” said a suddenly shaking Drew, as he hit himself all over. “Git it off me.”
“That’s just a lady bug, Drew. Don’t be frightened, it won’t hurt you. It’s just an innocent insect.”
“That’s easy for you to say. I’m the one under attack here. Does it have a stinger? Oh no, it could sting me, and I might die out here. I want my mommy.”
“Just hold my hand, Drew.”
“Did you see that? Something just hit me right in the face, and it hurt like crazy. I’m telling you it’s not safe out here. I want to go home right now!”
“Don’t worry Drew, that was just a small tree branch that barely grazed your head.”
“No sir, all the trees are gone, my teacher said so. She said terrible men cut them all down with something called ‘chainsaws.’ They murdered all our forests. Hey, is that a deer over there?”
“No, Drew. That would be a cow.”
“I don’t like cows either,” said Drew. “Their farts are going to wipe us all out. Don’t you watch the news?”
“Hey, what are those guys doing?” asked a suspicious Drew.
“That’s a farmer and a rancher, and they are doing something called work.”
“It doesn’t look like very much fun, and they are getting dirty. Yuck! What are they doing?”
“They are producing the food you eat.”
“No sir. That comes from the grocery store and McDonald’s. By the way, can we go home now? All this walking makes my legs hurt, and I think I have a blister on my foot.”
“But Drew, we’ve only walked two blocks!”
“I think I’m getting a headache from all this outdoorsy stuff. I could be allergic to it, you know? Besides, if I wanted to see the natural world I can see it any time I want on my iPhone.”
And that, my friends, is why Mother Nature is childless these days.