Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

A Sunday Drive Through the Alpine Loop

This last Sunday my family was at home lounging around, not really doing much. We have two kids (a 4-year-old boy and a 2-year-old boy). The boys were acting restless—squabbling, whining and what not. It was starting to get on my nerves and so I suggested we all hop in the car for a car ride. I didn’t have much of a plan about where we would go, but eventually we found ourselves driving up Provo Canyon. And before I knew it, I had turned the car to drive up the Alpine Loop.

As we got higher up the mountainside and deeper into the  forest, I found that I experienced a distinct mental shift. It’s difficult to describe, but I think the word reverence might possibly be applicable. I felt quieted. I felt a sense of awe. I also felt a sense of gratitude.

And I know I wasn’t the only one. Everyone in the family seemed a little more reposed. We turned off the DVD player and the kids started looking out the window at the rivers and streams, the flowers, the trees. (My husband spotted a deer at one point.) We turned off the air conditioning and rolled down the windows to smell the pines.

When it was all over, my husband said: “Let’s do this every week.”

Later that night, I saw that a friend of mine had posted on Facebook: “New favorite place: Alpine Loop. I can’t believe I live in such a beautiful place. Like mountain biking through the Sound of Music.” And in the comments for that post he had written: “I had a transcendent experience in that canyon, both in the bike and in the car.”

On Monday, I sent a postcard to a neighbor who seemed to be down on Sunday that had a picture of the Alpine Loop and told her about the experience. She later sent me an email to thank me for the postcard and said: “My mom’s favorite thing to do is to drive into the mountains, so I spent many an hour there as a child. It never ceases to lift my spirits.”

What is it that causes such a deep mental/spiritual/emotional shift when we are in nature? What makes places like the Alpine Loop have such a magical effect on us? Please share your theories (or your own experiences) in the comments.

  • Steve

    Have you read “Last Child in the Woods”, by Richard Louv? I must admit that I haven’t, but one of my PhD colleagues is writing about ‘nature deficit disorder’, which he introduces in that book.

    It’s sitting on the shelf waiting for when I’m done with this thesis!

    • Sprout

      Yay, Steve for being the first to comment on our blog!

      It’s totally my bad, but I haven’t read it yet. My parenting book group was going to read had it scheduled as our next book to read but then we moved!

      I have a lot of students who reference it in their papers from time to time. So, it must be compelling. Feel free to submit a review/response when you’ve finished it! :)