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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 6/17/2000

Age can make it tougher to remain in touch with nature

How long has it been since you felt wind on your cheek?

The question is a trick one, and the younger you are, the less meaning it will have for you.

Children and young people have a kinship with nature, their strong bodies and spirits blending effortlessly with the rain, snow, or sleet - or especially with the wind.

As one adds years, the affinity lessens, and the elderly, especially, have less and less desire to brave the elements, even for a short walk.

Changes of season, which at one time stimulated activity, may become a period to be endured rather than enjoyed.

As older persons become less active, weather is noted without personal feeling. The intensity of a blizzard or a heavy downpour of rain is judged by newspaper, television, and radio reports as one stays snug and warm at home. Occasions when one has an actual brush with wind, rain, or snow cease to exist.

It matters not that the aging person once enjoyed long walks through the woods and had a genuine feeling for nature. Years of seclusion seem to have gradually erased any sensation of being part of the real outdoor scene.

Skilled athletes of all ages learn the trick of making the elements, especially a strong wind, work on their behalf. Sailors, golfers, aircraft pilots, skiers, and many others become masters at interpreting weather conditions and using their knowledge to some advantage.

The other day on TV, I was watching a well-known golf professional execute a difficult drive over water.

"After taking my stance, I deliberately wait to shoot until I feel wind on my cheek," he explained. "The strong gust gives me the added power to reach the green."

An encounter with the elements, even a wind of frightening strength, can be a stimulating experience.

Years ago as an aircraft pilot somewhat lacking in caution, I was caught at the edge of a tornado while on a cross-country flight. Before I realized it, I was in utter darkness, with a wind so violent, my small plane seemed to be riding a roller coaster.

Wings that normally were rigid flapped back and forth like those of a bird. It was a fearful moment, for disaster loomed.

Luckily, the wings did not snap off, and in a few moments, I'd ridden out the storm. Never would I risk such a situation again, but it gave me an appreciation of wind power that I never had before.

One need not challenge the elements or risk life and limb to enjoy everyday benefits and contacts.

Children instinctively correlate with nature. Older people need to retain the same feeling as long as they can. Once lost, a special effort is required to recapture sensations of one's youth.



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