Nature Deficit Disorder. Really?

I heard about this on CBC Radio the other day. So now there is an official term for spending too much time not camping (or experiencing nature somehow). It seems there is a label for just about everything these days.

Still, every year at around this time, I think to myself, “How much do I want to load up the car and head out to a campsite?”

Really, how is it going to feel that first day we can finally escape to our weekend home away from home? You know … once the tent is set up, the fire is roaring and everyone has filled their bellies.

You go out and sit by the water, drop a line into a lake or stream, stroll (or hike) a trail, or just sit and stare into the fire – with that magical way the fragrant woodsmoke can find you, no matter where you’re sitting.

There is no shortage of wildlife to be found around most of the campsites across the Yukon (more so beyond the 90-minute mark away from the city, but more on that in future columns).

The whiskeyjacks come to finish the scraps you left on the table. The squirrels hover around the campsite’s periphery, cheering on the whiskeyjacks in appreciation of their courage.

You just know that not far off there is something larger, something stealthier.

At times you can watch the fish swim just offshore. With the proper camper’s attitude in place, even the buzz of insects has its appeal – provided nobody forgot to pack the repellent.

Then comes the pleasure of hunkering down in a cozy cocoon, the miracle of natural or man-made fibres erasing the awareness that all that’s standing between you and the elements is a dome of nylon or canvas.

Morning comes crisp and early, that first cup of coffee the best thing ever to pass your lips.

There is a feeling at a campsite that is like no other. I don’t know if it’s the system recharging its nature batteries, or just a recognition that here, for a few days at least, that never-ending list of stuff to be done around the house simply does not exist.

I realized this morning, as I walked the dog around my neighbourhood a 5-minute drive from the heart of downtown, that maybe all this wilderness is something I take for granted.

As I walk the block, I hear a symphony of wildlife, birds and squirrels.

I remember the foxes and coyotes that walk the same paths my kids walk to school, often just minutes before or after they do. Even the black bear that I saw walking along the ridge I can see from by deck.

I guess, if you compare that to living in a major city, where the extent of the wildlife you see in a day might extend only to some pigeons, racoons and fruit flies, we really are immersed in it, aren’t we?

But even here, many of us feel that drive to “get out there”. To go further away from the city – however you define that – and closer to something simpler. Closer to … well, Nature.

Regardless of what that feeling comes from, I sure look forward to it.

If it’s Nature Deficit Disorder that you are suffering from, here in the Yukon we have your cure.

Prescription strength!