We locked up our bikes and went for a walk round the gardens, as CCTV cameras, hidden amongst the flower beds, followed us. The sun was low in the sky and the trees were glowing with soft, yellow light. Again, it felt somehow intrinsically good to be in “nature”.
We found a bench in front of the Hall with a view out across the park and I watched in awe as swifts flew low across the grass in front of us. There were lots of couples and groups of friends sitting on the hill that slopes down from the Hall. As my attention turned to them I thought to myself, how could anyone not like this? How could anyone prefer the city to this?
And just as suddenly I had a moment of realisation – maybe it doesn’t matter. I like cycling. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I love it. Its what I spend most of my free time doing. I honestly can’t imagine how anyone could dislike cycling. But that doesn’t mean I worry endlessly about the fact that there are people who don’t enjoy cycling. It doesn’t bother me in the way that people not liking nature bothers me. I suppose the two aren’t completely analogous, since people not liking, or caring, about nature has more serious consequence (although more people cycling instead of driving wouldn’t be a bad thing!).
But perhaps I shouldn’t worry so much. Perhaps it isn’t my job to convert everyone. Perhaps there are people who love cities and worry about the fact that are people who don’t love them. Despite professing to be an urban nature writer, I think I’ve been associating liking cities to a wholesale rejection of nature. But I wonder how city lovers would feel if every tree, patch of grass and flower were removed from their city. Would they notice and would it make a difference? I’m betting it would.
I’m an urban nature writer because I don’t believe in the city/nature divide. So it is odd really that I’ve clung on to this fear about city lovers vs. nature lovers. Maybe it doesn’t matter if there are people who don’t share how I feel about nature.
I’d be interested to know what others think. Should everyone love nature?