SPEAKING personally, I like nothing better than a zephyr round my ears.
Add the sensuality of soft grass underfoot and the feel of fresh air in my lungs, and you find me a happy camper upon this planet some call Earth.
But, hey, maybe that's just me. And I'm bejabered if I know how nature works its magic, how it makes us feel better. Maybe it is atavistic attachment. This green stuff is where you come from. It means food, safety and shelter.
Scientists and sceptics posit grim explanations for pleasant phenomena. But there remains for me a mystery in nature, something intangible, something that beckons but doesn't let you grasp.
My perorations are leaving me giddy, so let's waddle swiftly back to the solid world of news and other misery. A top nature-minder is warning that Scotland's young persons are becoming disconnected from the controversial country's wildlife and environment.
Stuart Housden, Scottish director of the RSPB, blames relentless development for the phenomenon, and fears the nation's weans might become unhealthy if they don't get oot and aboot in the yonderside. He may have a point, though there's still a ton – at least – of countryside out there. It's where to find it that's the problem. Where d'you go? Look from the point of view of a child or a timid, uninformed adult.
Countryside? That the fields and whatnot? It all looks sewn up and fenced off. Those pleasant, rolling pastures are precisely the ones you can't go on. Closer to home, in the city, the Botanic Gardens are packed, as are the suburban hills, where there are two dog walkers per square yard and you run the risk of being mown down by a mountain biker.
More distantly, the mountains and official long-distance walks are chock-full of rescue helicopters and competitive beardies, the islands are nutter colonies, and your actual Highlands are replete with toffs mangling the wildlife. No wonder the younglings stay in.
Stravaiging into the debate, Graham MacKenzie, a former school heidie and now a cooncillor in yon Highlands, blamed computers for causing the nation's nippers to give nature the rubber ear.
Mr MacKenzie proclaimed: "Nature, wildlife and birdwatching hardly rival Facebook and Twitter." Good point, well made.
And here's some news just in: you must experience nature for it to mean anything to you. If that sounds glib, think about what I'm saying. Oh, you have? Still glib, eh? Well, let's put it another way, by resorting to the power of cliché: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
We started with zephyrs round the ear and have ended up at puddings. My point is that, experienced preferably in solitude or with up to two companions, nature can make you feel better. In this way, it proves itself to you.
And we all need proof. We stop going to the gym if we don't get toned. We ditch that diet if we don't lose weight. And we won't go back to the countryside if it's cold, wet, muddy and mobbed with gun-wielding, wheel-spinning, mutt-fondling fiends.
By contrast, and by all accounts, Facebook and Twitter thrill the youthful soul unfailingly. I'm unsure of the allure. Gossip, community of a sort, revenge, prurience, that sort of thing perhaps. For me, not a patch on a sudden squall slapping your face awake. But the computer is safe, warm and stimulating to the brain. The countryside is dodgy, sludgy and a sedative for the soul. It's the zeitgeist versus the ancient verities.
Perhaps battle could be avoided by allying the two and creating a virtual countryside on the computer. It's often talked about but remains rubbish, with graphics that would disgrace a 1970s cartoon. The only alternative is for the Scottish Government to force the nation's infants into the countryside one by one. But, doubtless, the usual hand-wringers would object to such firm, Chinese-style action.
Meanwhile, my advice to computer-addicted, housebound juveniles is this: put down the mouse and walk away from the screen slowly. At the window, take a look up at the clouds and skies. You're bound to feel something. Now follow it.
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