I've heard it cast about jokingly many times. "I'm a fishing widow" or "I'm a hunting widow." As I was reading a book on the life of John Muir recently it hit me how true statements like this can be. I love nature in so many complex ways but honestly not as much as I love my wife and family.
If you want a long distance relationship; nature is great at that. You can view it from your car or train window as you zoom by. It can consume your mind as you drive to a destination and you dream of wandering across a rocky ridge. Maybe you need more distance? You can love pictures of nature while sitting on your laptop or tour mountain roads thanks to advances in Google map applications. I know I'm guilty of this last one.
Maybe you need a broad social circle. Nature can easily fill that void with its various animals, insects, reptiles, plants and landscapes. Some of those friends you can get right up and personal with. Some of my more science minded friends get very close up to ferns and know every detail about them while he keeps the other plants in outer social circles. Yet another friend encourages whitetail deer to know him on a personal level, while I'm sure they keep their feelings for him a bit more hidden.
If you like drama, nature has plenty of that, especially with the wild weather we've been experiencing lately. You can watch as the sun battles clouds or trees ward off insect invasions. Nature really does have lots of drama, maybe even more than your daily soap opera. Thunderstorms, hurricanes, snowstorms, predator versus prey, these are age old soap operas that have been playing out long before television was even around and we don't have to pay the actors to perform.
I'm not big on drama and I prefer more intimate and quieter contact in my affair with nature. I like to sit on a large boulder overlooking a broad, slow moving river, as the sun sets in front of me and the daylight slowly fades to light. We can sit together quietly, me and nature, and get to know one another very well without saying a word. I can watch a coyote trot along the edge of a meadow or a moose much on sedges from a still pond and feel a sense of respect and a great amount of love.
From up close or from afar, from an emotional or rational state; nature can generate strong emotion from anyone. It won't turn its back on us and we can't turn our backs on it, even if we wanted to. It will test us and make us stronger. It will make us more resilient just like the best relationships we have with our families. If you are willing to respect nature it will hone your senses and readily make you stronger and more receptive to other relationships. So to those who are widows to angling or hunting, hiking or camping, I encourage you to go out and start your own love affair with nature. You'll be surprised where it might take you.