Tip #10: Enjoy the outdoors

This tip is not really a “tip” in the same way that the other ones have been. In the past I’ve suggested recycling and reducing energy use, which have physical outcomes, but tip #10 is less tangible.

The real key to living a sustainable life is truly loving the earth around you. If you never go outside, if you never swim in a lake or climb a tree, being sustainable is not going to be easy. If you go outside and enjoy all the elements, then being a sustainer -as I like to call it- will come naturally.

I know a lot of people like to call Missouri “Misery,” but Missouri is just as beautiful as all the other places I’ve been. So many things about this place are absolutely amazing, but those things can be hard to see if you’ve only ever lived here your whole life. So as a western girl who lived on a dry mountaintop for half of her life, I’m going to remind you of what beautiful things are here in the plains.

1. Spring is a thing here. A real thing. In Colorado “Spring” is the one week of the year when the trees go from leafless to growing leaves again. There are no flowers on the trees where I’m from at 8,500 ft. above sea level, only green aspen leaves and pine needles. Here in Missouri, you have these grand Dogwood trees which are easily some of the most beautiful vegetation I have ever seen. They are even pink!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(thelighthouseonline.com)

2. On the subject of seasons, Autumn is also a thing here. In my town, Autumn is also one week, and the trees are all the same color, because they are all aspens. In Missouri, you not only have yellow and orange leaves, but red! And pink! And even purple! You have so many trees here, and all of them are so beautiful!

Picture-10

(Missouri Department of Conservation)

3. The water. In the west, the landscape is so beautiful, but so incredibly dry. Here, it rains all the time! Sometimes, even for days at a time. I lived in a place called “The City Above the Clouds,” and though it was hardly a city, it was definitely above the clouds. It was sunny 364 days a year in my hometown, even if it rained or snowed, later in the day it would be bright and sunny. Here in Missouri, you have rain for hours at a time. And when it rains in the summer, it’s warm rain. You can go outside and walk or run in it, and you won’t get hypothermia.

It’s not just the rain either. You also have Lake of the Ozarks here, and you have amazing waterfalls like this:

dsc_03682011arapriltrip_001

(https://ozarksphotos.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/dsc_03682011arapriltrip_001.jpg)

only two hours away from Columbia!

4. The Missouri Department of Conservation is one of the best in the nation. If you can see the vague outline of Missouri here, you can see how many parks you have:

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 12.40.56 PM

(Google Maps)

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources manages 87 state parks and plenty of national parks, not to mention things like the MKT and the Katy Trail, which are amazing places to stroll and ride your bike.

5. Grass. Grass grows here naturally, and there is no necessity for turf or even irrigation, really. It is so wet and close to sea level here that grass is natural. This is what the backyard of my house looks like back home:

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

Bonus element of seeing my amazing junior year prom dress. You’re welcome.

What you can’t see in that picture, is that I’m wearing flip flops. Because even though I would have loved to walk barefoot in my prom dress through my backyard, I couldn’t, because those blades of grass are the texture of little plastic legos, just waiting to destroy the bottoms of your feet.

Here in Missouri, you can walk everywhere barefoot! The grass is green and beautiful, and thick and feels like pillows on your feet.

Finally, the thing that I love the most here, is that you can go outside when it’s dark and not need a jacket. At 8,500 feet above sea level, you never leave the house without a jacket; if the sun goes down, it will be cold. Here in Missouri, I can walk around in the summer all ad-hoc and willy nilly, with no plan for the weather to change, because the likelihood of a winter storm in April or May is so low, that I needn’t worry. Back home, a jacket was a necessity, at all times. Even in July.

So please, go out and enjoy how beautiful Missouri can be. You don’t have to visit a national park or go to the Ozarks to see it’s beauty. Just walk outside and drink a beer. Fall in love with the world around you.

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