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Zack Rogow: The Great Outdoors

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Even to those for whom the great outdoors was never so great, like Zack Rogow, getting out and about in the world man did not build is both a welcome relief and a fine teacher.

During shelter in place, I’ve been struck by how strongly I feel the urge to go out into nature. I’m not one of those people who loves camping, or sunshine. I grew up in Manhattan, where nature was a pigeon eyeing me suspiciously to see if I was going to snatch the bread crust it was pecking.

But when we’re confined to our homes, it means a great deal to me to get out into nature. That’s partly because my girlfriend loves to hike. In the past few weeks, we’ve walked miles up and down hillsides, marveling at entire slopes dappled with yellow field mustard flowers.

We’ve climbed 1,500 foot rises and found cows and calves, and we’re not sure if the cattle are there for the views — like us — or whether they just enjoy seeing how far they can wander in one direction — also like us.

We’ve spotted wildflowers in every wavelength of the spectrum: fiddlenecks, the orange poppies that stretch open in the sun, the vetch with necklaces of tiny flowers, those little bursts of purple called shooting stars.


It’s a relief to get outside, to see a wider horizon. But it’s also that everything in nature was here before we got into this pandemical mess, that the carnivorous coronavirus is not the only show on this planet, and the natural world will persist long after this shadow time. Even though we leave room in our hearts right now for the suffering and illness that’s taking place almost everywhere, nature reminds us that the world still has endless variety, vitality and voom, and we need to hold on, just like springtime, which waits an entire year to release all its colors and smells and wings.

With a Perspective, this is Zack Rogow.

Zack Rogow is a San Francisco-based writer, author, editor or translator of more than 20 books or plays.

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