If you don’t have much space in your home – or if you’ve found yourself in the middle of a pandemic-induced lockdown – it can be hard to feel connected to the outdoors. Until now.
This post was first published on the Department of Conservation blog.
I was mildly offended that my name came up when my colleagues were discussing the need for a blog about being a good conservationist when you’re lazy.
“Anon!” – let’s pretend that’s my name – “Anon, that could be one of your ones!”
“Yeah!” Colleague number two jumped in too, and just like that I was outnumbered. “You could write it in your funny style!”
“Thanks for that compliment, whānau,” I said, not feeling thankful at all. “But I don’t know if I’m the right person.”
“You definitely are,” my colleague said firmly, shutting down any further debate. She wanted a name in her planning chart, and she wanted it before Teams gave the five-minute warning. “Anon, I’m putting your name next to the lazy conservationist blog. Don’t worry, if you think of another angle, you can do that instead.”
Then we went into level four lockdown and I did not think of another angle in time, and so here we are.
Do I like being in nature and learning about our incredible native species and ecosystems? Yes.
Do I like to keep a connection with the natural world because I’m passionate about the unique biodiversity in Aotearoa, and its preservation and protection? Absolutely.
Do I like to keep my outdoors adventures within my skill limit? Yep (and I wrote another first-person blog about that).
So this begs the question: am I a lazy conservationist, or am I just a tactical one? I like to think it’s the latter! I like nature, but on my own terms, which usually means close to home, information-heavy, and only sometimes requiring a purpose trip to a destination.
See, in my heart of hearts, I’m a city slicker. “Ugh, yuck,” I imagine some readers groaning. To which I will just say: hey! Don’t be judgey! I’m a nature-loving city slicker. We exist! Nature is not just for the adventurers. Nature is for everyone. That’s important, so I’m going to say it again: nature is for everyone.
In fact, this Conservation Week (September 4-12) is aimed at people like me. Urban based. Those of us who don’t hit the hills every weekend for whatever reason – don’t want to, aren’t able to, or face other barriers. I wasn’t planning to be in lockdown in the lead-up to Conservation Week. But like many people, once I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere, I wanted to go everywhere.
What did I do the weekend before lockdown? Stayed inside all weekend and read books, happily.
What did I do the weekend after lockdown? Same, but unhappily. Because I had to.
In lockdown, nature transitions from something that I enjoy having around me because I love it, to something that is a necessity for my wellbeing. Research shows it boosts our immune system and reduces stress and anxiety. When we take time for ourselves in the outdoors we give our minds a break and feel connected to nature. Because when Papatūānuku thrives, we all thrive.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions for ways to bring nature into your life if you’re lazy (*tactical!) or limited with the nature near you in our current alert level restrictions. Perhaps you’re in an apartment, or you have children who are driving you round the bend (if you have perfect angel children I guess you can join too); or you’re an essential service worker – thank you! – trying to catch snatches of nature when you can.
This blog is for us.
1) Nurture your pot plants
In my head, I have a great image of being a Plant Parent, a green-thumbed earthy figure, at one with Papatūānuku, in an apartment full of native fronds. In reality, I’ve been struggling to keep one chain-store-sourced, non-native fern alive.
This fern and I do battle everyday as I try and discern its needs based on the colour of its leaves, and it coyly holds its secrets in tight little tendrils because it is a haughty and aloof being. And a plant.
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