When I was very little, I remember spending a lot of time outside. For me, it didn’t consist of trees, grass, birds, and insects; it consisted more of adults, children, cars, and concrete, but I was still outside. The only tree on our block was a honey locust as tall as the two story house my cousins and my family lived in. The tree was beautiful, but of course it rested on a rectangular patch of dirt framed by cement. The neighborhood children didn’t know what front lawns were, but we didn’t care. All we wanted to do was play cops and robbers, tag, kick the can, hide and go seek and many other games.
My parents then made a big decision. An apartment was not enough space to raise a family of seven, so we moved. My family was able to spread out to 2 spacious floors instead of a single cramped one. My older brother and I didn’t have many new friends in this neighborhood so as a result we missed our old home very much. This new neighborhood was so different. It was definitely quieter, since there weren’t as many kids here, but it was also greener! We finally had a front lawn and trees like in the movies. There was a pine tree in our back yard and 3 smaller trees in our front yard. My brothers and I each claimed a tree. I chose the one I thought was the most climbable. We didn’t have enough tree for all of us kids so we planted a sugar maple out in the back for the most recent addition to the family.
I remember finding solace in the trees and in the birds. Luckily for me — since I was the only girl in the family (I have 5 brothers) — I got to have my own room. It was the smallest room in the house tucked away in the back with a nice view of the old pine in our yard. I remember waking up to the cooing of mourning doves during fresh spring mornings. The cooing had me fooled for so many years. I had always thought that it was an owl making that noise. When I discovered that it wasn’t an owl, but a dove, my world seemed a little different. I started to open my eyes and ears to these birds and all birds in general. When I would see mourning doves, I always saw them in pairs. My parents called them love birds, and I called them that as well until I learned to properly identify them at the university.
Six months is a long time to be away from home, but luckily for me I can video call my friends. My room at the bunkhouse has an incredible view of the Oregon greenness. For the first few minutes of the calls, the conversation goes a little something like this:
“hey hows it going? It’s been too long!! Whoa there’s still light over there, and its sooo green. ”
Oregon is definitely much different than Illinois. There is no contest if you compare the nature from these states. I was in Chicago for a few days not too long ago, and I realized that my neighborhood was much greener than I gave it credit for. Sure, I wouldn’t see more than 7 birds species where I grew up, but I realized that a patch of grass in your front lawn or green public parks makes a world of difference. It did for me.