Something for everyone in the natural world

For many years, I’ve spent a great deal of my time researching and studying the positive effects of outdoor life for purposes of both avocation and vocation.

It goes without saying that I’ve greatly enjoyed the process. These efforts have ranged from group activities to solo adventures, and have been conducted in all sorts of weather and throughout the four seasons.

In this effort, I’ve hosted a wide spectrum of guests – ranging from juvenile delinquents to incarcerated felons, and from Prime Ministers to Emirs. And yet, they were all treated equally by the fish, the blackflies and me.

I’ve handled young and old, fit and infirmed, the wealthy and the not so. Above all, the greatest equalizer was the environment. Despite our many differences, we are all equal in the wild.

The breeze blew in my face just as they did on theirs, and the snow was equally as cold and fluffy for all who handled it.

Nature provides equal shares to all. It is an equal opportunity entertainer. However, it is the individual’s choice of whether to take advantage of such natural delights or not.

Certainly such decisions will always depend on the required skills, knowledge, equipment and fitness levels. However, the ability to enjoy our natural surroundings is an experience of equal opportunity.

Some prefer to play outdoors with such tools of choice as skis, paddles, bows, bikes, ropes, sleds, rods, guns, kites, skates and other such tools or conveyances.

Others may utilize a mask and snorkel, a telescope, a camera or a sound recorder. Some may just like the scent of a sea breeze, the view of a sunset summit or the honk of a passing flock of geese.

Whatever their particular pleasure, it is more likely to be found outdoors, where the entertainment is natural and ever changing.

Regular outdoor travelers have long recognized the positive effects of the natural environment. It can be equally relaxing, and exhilarating, calming and exciting, soft or hard, loud or quiet.

And therein is the main attraction. Nature is not static, it changes with the wind and weather, the time of day, the season and the terrain.

The forests, streams, lakes, mountains and oceans demand very little from us, though they’re still engaging, ever changing and attention-grabbing.

There are very few man-made productions that are able to captivate human attention with the efficiency of a waterfall or crashing surf.

Such natural experiences serve to reset the human clock and restore our mental functioning in the same way that food and water restores our bodies. It is an intuitive notion, which often manifests itself in people who live close to nature.

Age of discovery

I have spent the past few days devouring a variety of stories, photographs and suggestions that were first assembled in a locally published periodical titled, “Journal of the Outdoor Life: The Anti-Tuberculosis Magazine.”

The publication was based in Saranac Lake and published monthly beginning in 1904 at the Adirondack Cottage Sanitorium. It was devoted to encouraging both TB patients and the general public “to embrace and take up the healthy outdoor life.”

The September 1905 issue features such stories as “Hounding Deer in the Adirondacks 25 Years Ago: Recollections of an Old Hunter” and “The Call to Nature” which read:

“The desire, which all of us experience to get outdoors at this season and stretch our arms and fill our lungs and rest our eyes is one of the few priceless heritages from prehistoric man that we have not been able to smother completely beneath artificial contrivances and social devices of the day.

“The longing is common to all – it is one of the first sane impulses. Our beings clamor for air that is untainted, and our eyes for colors that are fresh.

“Some say, ‘Live Outdoors!’ Well, Sir that is the only life to live when you want fresh air, it will make your chest stick out like a hired man.”

The same volume included this letter to the editor:

“Your Journal of March 5 to hand. I am very glad to hear of your work for the Sanatorium. There is undoubtedly evidence that the Outdoor Life has cured many who were considered helplessly ill. The more persons you get outside the better for the nation. Signed: Ernest Thomas Seton.”

Seton was a British author, wildlife artist, founder of the Woodcraft Indians and one of the founding pioneers of the Boy Scouts of America.

Seton’s sparkling recommendation comes as no surprise, for the Journal of Outdoor Life was filled with articles on subjects such as “An Outdoor Hobby as a Prevention of Disease,” “Notes on the Night Skies,” “Bird Identification and Song,” and Fern Study and Trout Fishing.

For further information or to read the Journals, please visit

Armchair adventurers unite

After enduring another weeklong spell of bitterly cold temperatures, it’s time for local outdoor junkies to get their kicks and licks in some warm, comfortable surroundings.

Conveniently, it will be possible as the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour returns to Lake Placid for its 15th season. The sell-out event will be hosted by Lake Placid Center for the Arts on Sunday at 7 p.m.

Armchair adventurers can get tickets in advance at

High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid or at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

Tickets are $19 in advance and $22 at the door if still available. Don’t wait until the last minute, though, as the event has been sold out in advance for the past 12 years.