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Life with a Smile: I thought I was outdoorsy — but I’m not

By Kate Snyder

Contributing writer

The recent run of gorgeous fall days has reminded me how very much I like being outside. Beautiful leaves, breezy afternoons, crisp evenings. No matter the season, I enjoy the outdoors. Bonfires and hayrides in the fall, sledding parties in the winter. In the spring, I’ll sit on my porch and watch a thunderstorm roll in or go puddle-walking after the rain.

And considering my Midwestern roots, I’ve got a pretty strong tolerance for Kentucky heat. This summer, I would lie in the driveway, soaking up the warmth of the asphalt. I’d bake peacefully, staring up through the leaves of the enormous Ginkgo  tree in the front yard, and listen to my kids’ voices as they played hopscotch or kicked a soccer ball.

We have a hammock in the backyard that is a favorite family spot. My oldest daughter takes up residence in the afternoons with a small mountain of books and she’ll be content for hours. Or we all pile in and swing back and forth, squished and giggling, our combined weight causing the hammock to skim the ground. I was 22 the summer that the fifth Harry Pottery book came out and I remember packing a picnic and heading to the park. I plopped myself under a tree and didn’t move for eight hours.

But let us not confuse my fondness for nature with being “outdoorsy.” I have friends who are authentically outdoorsy, their Facebook feeds full of pictures of them fishing, hiking, snowboarding, rafting, rock climbing, and generally flaunting their physical fitness in various outdoor settings. Once upon a time, I used to think that maybe I was outdoorsy. I married a man whose favorite pastimes included hunting and fishing and I gamely included a two-person tent on our wedding registry. I had aspirations to many family hikes and camping trips.

But it turns out that I like the idea of outdoor activities far more than I like the reality. Fish are slimy and gross. I’m afraid of heights so rock-climbing is out. Hiking is exhausting and I tend to get lost. I can’t identify poison ivy despite numerous lessons from the genuinely outdoorsy friends. Camping is OK, but sleeping on the ground isn’t exactly restful and if you add small children it’s less so. And as for peeing in the woods? It’s just not that fun. Oh, and mosquitoes love me with an unholy and unrequited passion. It’s unreal.

So, I’m not actually outdoorsy. Basically, I want to sit around outside enjoying the loveliness of nature with minimal physical activity and effort. My cousin once biked across the United States by herself, riding through insane weather and sleeping outside for weeks on end. That sounds like an absolute nightmare to me. On the other hand, I’ve read about bike trips where you ride a few miles each day from one five-star bed and breakfast to another. I could definitely get on board with that. Luxury outdoors. Is that asking too much?