It was a real eye-opener for me. I was at first bewildered by the questions which didn't really make sense to me: the ones about when did my love story with nature begin? and childhood experiences? For me, there wasn't a memory of when it began - it was always there. Childhood experiences with nature? It would be far shorter to list the non-nature experiences!
My earliest memory is of riding on my mother's shoulders as she walked out into the surf at Kai Iwi beach near Whanganui. My childhood, other than the awful school hours, was spent playing in the swamp, or in the hay barn, or in the orchard, looking after the chooks, helping care for orphan lambs, or reading books in my favourite tree. Even the 5 mile ride to school was book-ended with stopping to pick wild roses, jumping in iced-over puddles, being chased by cows.
I have always been comfortable living in the natural world, but...... I have spent a ridiculous amount of life trying to fit into human 'civilization' and 'society'. Having a stroke nearly 2 years ago has left me with an inability to be around a lot of people talking: my brain crumples up, I stop understanding, then I stop being able to speak my words, then I stop being able to think my words, then my leg stops holding me upright - and as I write this, I wonder why this has bothered me so much - what a blessing it is for me to have an excuse not to be in situations that have always been so hard, so bewildering, so unpleasant and confusing!
My adult life has been one so filled with societal shoulds, I have spent most of it out of touch with the nature, gaia, that I knew so well as a child. I now know I am an introvert, but as a socially inept person I learned to constantly seek out other people to be told what to do, or what I was doing wrong, I could not rely on my gut feelings, my inner knowledge, because those were, apparently, unacceptable. Nature - sea, bush, garden - is where I go to soothe and calm, but I think the time has come for me to consciously make nature my home, and the other, the 'civilized / social' part of the world, just a place I visit occasionally.