Jul 17, 2009

You May Already be a Nature Nerd

By Betsy Franz

When I was growing up, there were two distinct types of people: the cool people and the nerds. The cool people were the football players, the cheerleaders, and anyone in a rock band. The nerds were the ones who got good grades, wore black rimmed glasses and were much more likely to have a microscope or a telescope at home than they were to have a date on Friday night.

Generally speaking, the birdwatchers and the backyard botanists fell into the nerd category. Cool kids didn’t even know what a chrysalis was much less have one in a jar in their bedroom.

But times have changed. Protecting the planet and all of its creepy crawly inhabitants is not only sociably responsible AND socially acceptable but it is also suddenly cool.

Sure, there are many different shades of ‘green’, and environmental responsibility takes many forms. Every day citizens and celebrities alike are proud to proclaim their passion for solar energy and hybrid automobiles. But how many of them are ready to come out of the closet when it comes to the more nerdish pastimes such as bird watching and butterfly gardening? How many of them are ready to admit that they not only hug trees, but they also fondle flowers and even caress critters from time to time?

Certainly we can imagine animal activist celebs such as Mary Tyler Moore and Ellen DeGeneres getting eye-to-eye with the bunnies and squirrels in their yard. And Martha Stewart must surely appreciate the serenade of songbirds in her flower filled gardens.

But what about other well-known environmental celebrities? Do nature lover Darryl Hannah and inner-city gardener Bette Midler welcome the wonders of wildlife to their backyard landscapes? Has Leonardo DiCaprio, Kevin Bacon or Ed Begley Jr. ever marveled at the metamorphous of a butterfly? Do Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pierce Brosnan hang nectar feeders to attract hovering hummingbirds? Has Ted Danson, Willie Nelson or Robert Kennedy, Jr. ever pulled out a magnifying glass to help identify an unknown insect?

If they haven’t, then perhaps they should. It’s a wonderful cause to want to save the planet but it isn’t a planet of asphalt and steel and carbon spewing monolithic factories that we are trying to save. It’s the miniscule miracles. The sights that, in the past, only the nerds have taken the time to notice. And it is there, perhaps, when one gets eye-to-eye with the birds and the butterflies and the creatures that visit our gardens and wander through our yards, that we realize what it is we are working so hard to protect.

So whether you are a star studded celebrity, a prima ballerina or a single parent , it’s time to admit your nerdiness to the world. Go ahead and get excited about the tadpoles in your garden pond and the butterflies eating your herb garden! Grab the magnifying glass and a good nature guide and share the great outdoors with the ones you love.

And if you still aren’t sure whether you want to admit that you are a nerd or not, here are a few questions to help you decide:

You may be a nature nerd if: See here: The GenGreen Blog » You May Already be a Nature Nerd