I had the good fortune to be the son of a man who loved nature. He brought me up fishing and hunting, and when those were out of season, he would take me on long walks in the woods. Seeing a deer through the trees, a hawk circling overhead, or a trout holding in the current was always worth stopping our conversations to take notice.
When I was young, he carried me on his shoulders through rough water. He taught me how to fish just like his dad had taught him. He showed me how to find our way back by measuring the angle of the trees’ shadows to the direction we were walking. And when a proposed dam threatened to destroy a wilderness preserve that we loved, we talked about how we could raise our voice against it.
After initially working in the corporate world, he spent the last half of his career working for the Environmental Protection Agency. He was so proud of how their efforts protected what was so important. It is no coincidence that after years working for a large corporation, I ended up at American Rivers, doing what I can to protect what he showed me was precious.
So on this Father’s Day, I will be remembering his influence, his long stride through the woods, and his broad grin when holding a trout in a small stream.
Hoping to share this with the next generation, this Father’s Day my wife and I will be taking our children backpacking in Yosemite. While they have been on many day-hikes to beautiful places, it will be their first time truly in the backcountry with only those few things they really need. We’ll see meadows, peaks, lakes, and rivers. Their eyes will be opened to how big nature is and how far you can see. And with a bit of luck, they will feel the same connection to the outdoor world that my dad showed me.
The love of nature is a gift that goes in both directions and can keep going as long as we pass it on. Who helped you learn to love being outside? And have you been able to share that with other?