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Nature Deficit Disorder

Do you have Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD)? Before you ask, I never heard of it either. But I am a faithful NPR listener, and I recently heard an interview with an author who apparently coined the phrase. Unfortunately, I only heard the tail-end of the interview

(I was driving and couldn’t take notes). So the minute I walked in the office I Googled it!

It seems that Richard Louv introduced the term “Nature-Deficit Disorder” in 2005 with the publication of his best-selling book, “Last Child in the Woods”. (The interview I heard was actually somebody else, who was referring to this earlier work. I’m still looking for him.)

Google even provided a definition. To wit: the idea that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, and the belief that this change results in a wide range of behavioral problems. Apparently this disorder is not recognized in any of the medical manuals for mental disorders, but that hardly matters when I get my teeth into something I never heard of before and want to learn more!

I don’t suffer from this disorder even though I live in town, because that town is situated in the foothills of the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. My back yard is a forested hillside. The pine trees share space with native juniper and chokecherry bushes. And the forest floor is of course, carpeted with pine needles and pine cones - which somehow manage to make their way into my house to fuel fireside warmth on long winter nights.

Then there is the wildlife: mule deer, chipmunks, birds of various descriptions, one notably obstreperous squirrel, coyotes, wild turkeys, foxes and even bobcats on occasion. The deer are the best part. A family of deer takes up residence under my deck every summer, and we usually manage to strike up a friendly - if cautious - acquaintance over the course of the summer.

So I don’t suffer from this condition, but if you are a city-dweller, perhaps you do. I would be so bold as to suggest you could avoid this condition by taking a tour in the Great American West, where nature abounds! [In fairness, virtually any tour will get you out into nature.]

The idea of travel is to expand your horizons, stretch your comfort zone, and best of all, refresh your senses.

After being cooped up indoors for these past many months in the interest of survival of the species, it is finally time to start thinking about the great American pastime: travel! And what better destination than the Great American West!

See you on the trail!

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