The Great Outdoors
It’s not just “great” because it’s huge and gargantuous, it’s “great” in so many more ways than that.
Mountains, rivers, lakes and valleys… Our imagination takes us straight to the visuals of national parks and sweeping mountain ranges when we hear the words “The Great Outdoors”.
But the phrase has taken on new meaning for us in the past 10 months. Not the “outdoors” bit – the “Great” bit.
I’ve always been a fan of the outdoors. When you grow up on a farm in Donegal, you don’t really have any other option. But even as an adult, with my farm duties minimised to a few days a year helping the Daddy out, the outdoors is somewhere we try to spend a lot of time.
We’re one of those families. Even long before we had heard the word “lockdown”, Sundays were our Fun-days and usually involved a beach or a forest or a hike up something. And on the odd day where we found ourselves Kiddy free, we liked to climb the odd mountain. Yes, for fun.
So now we’re obviously missing being able to adventure throughout our beautiful county, but ironically, never before have I enjoyed the outdoors so much. Nor have I ever needed it so much. It’s no longer just for Sundays. It’s become a daily requirement in my life. And in Himself’s life and certainly in the girls’ lives.
We can’t go far. The garden is plenty big for the girls to run free and living in the sticks (as they say) means that we can walk or run on a few different roads within our 5k.
Last week, I turned left instead of right for the first time and ended up running on a road I probably haven’t been on in 25 years. I never need to drive it. It was like travelling to Narnia, bringing me past a farm on which I spent many a day playing as a child (Dad kept cattle there) and past homes of people I haven’t seen since National school. How quickly we get set in our ways eh? I’ll be running that road more often. It made me smile.
I’ve never been so glad to be able to get outdoors. Even on the days where I can’t get out for a run, if it’s too slippy, or I’m too busy, I make a point of going outdoors. Even if it’s only to walk around the house a few times, or to stand in the garden. Coat on , cuppa in hand and out I go. Because in our current situation, the outdoors is indeed great. Even if you’re only going as far as your back step.
It’s “great” because it’s fresh. Deep breaths of cold air, your face stinging from the temperature change as you step outside, your exhalations evaporating in clouds at your face… it’s rejuvenating.
It’s calming. It’s soothing. It’s relaxing and refreshing. Sometimes, it’s the only place we can escape the constant noise and chaos of our precious children. I can tolerate the noise of my two a WHOLE lot more when we’re outside! (Not sure I can say the same for the neighbours. They sometimes sound like there are 38 of them.)
But seriously, there is something magical about fresh air and what it can do. No it can’t solve our problems or change things, but it can allow us to see them differently. And sometimes, getting outdoors gives us the opportunity to process them that we can not get when surrounded by noise and washing machines and bleeping devices and work piles on the kitchen tables and all the “things” that need done, yesterday.
And so while we’re stuck within our respective 5kms and for most of us, Errigal and Muckish are only visible in the distance or on our phones, we can still get outdoors and let it help us feel better.
We might not feel “great”, but one thing is certain, even a 5 minute breather in the outdoors, will leave you feeling a whole lot better than if you DON’T set foot outside.
And that is all it takes. Open door. Step out. Hello Outdoors. It’s great!
So yes. I can’t wait to explore again; to climb mountains and go on hikes and run a different road. But if nothing else, I’ve learned that they don’t call it the “Great outdoors” just because it’s big and vast.
It’s “great”, whether you’re standing at the foot of a mountain, or walking around your garden, or leaning on your car in your street, or hugging a cuppa on your doorstep.
Step outdoors, just for a few minutes a day. Trust me. It’s great.