Embracing the great indoors

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American culture likes people who are “outdoorsy.” Society sees it as a healthy, wholesome way to live. Outdoorsy people are generally considered to be adventurous, energetic, and down-to-Earth.

Some people boast about their outdoor hobbies on dating profiles, or they post photos of their adventures in the wild on Facebook.

But what about those of us who don’t want to hike or bike or ride the rapids? Does that make us bad people? Have you ever noticed that no one ever brags about being “indoorsy”? In fact, indoorsy isn’t even a word. (The spell checker on my computer is losing its electronic mind every time I dare to type it.) The closest word to “indoorsy” is probably “homebody” or “hermit” or “weirdo.”

But I don’t mind making indoorsy a word and claiming it proudly. Some of my favorite things are indoors – ice cubes, bug-free air, books, pasta, clean sheets, working toilets, and snake-free spaces.

camping tentThat doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate nature. I just find that I love nature best when I get it in manageable doses. I prefer to take a stroll through nature and then circle back to my own living room, versus pitching a tent and sleeping in what might turn out to be a grizzly bear’s living room.

For years, Tom has tried to talk me into various forms of a camping trip with zero luck. Even before we got married, I made my position clear on how I feel about the woods. Beautiful as they may be, I do not intend to spend days and nights there.

What’s the problem, you ask? I’ll answer that question with a series of my own:

Where do you lose your cell phone signal? The woods.

Where do snakes like to live? The woods.

Where do hikers sometimes get lost and nearly die of dehydration? The woods.

Where do police often find escaped inmates? The woods.

During episodes of Dateline, where are victims’ bodies usually discovered? The woods.

You see the pattern here, right? But before you fire off an angry email in defense of the great outdoors, please know that I do understand how many wonderful things exist in the woods. I also know there are millions of people who find the woods to be a soothing, soul-renewing place to spend time. I get it. I really do, and I respect those feelings.

I, too, appreciate the raw beauty of the woods. It’s just that sometimes I prefer to see large, glossy photos of it in a coffee table book, or admire it from the relative safety of my rolled-up car window.

When a nasty tick attaches itself to a hiking human, it might be trying to get a meal, but it also might be looking for a one-way ticket out of the woods. (I’ve never interviewed a tick, but I imagine it might be motivated to upgrade its living conditions.)

I hope that by revealing myself to be the city-loving, indoor dweller that I am, it might lessen the secret shame my fellow non-hiking, non-camping, indoor enthusiasts often feel when the rest of the world is intent on climbing rocks just because they’re there.

The good news is that the world is a big place, with plenty of space for those who like to sleep under the stars as well as those who prefer to sleep under a ceiling fan (which, technically speaking, is still under the stars.) If you’re in that first group, I wish you a summer filled with fun adventures and joyous journeys through your favorite parts of the great outdoors.

Just remember to check for ticks.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com.

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