I won’t lie, living on the coast is pretty great. Since moving to Corpus Christi, TX this past fall, I have been amazed at how looking out at the bay for a few minutes while walking the dog each morning can positively influence my day. I always return feeling a little more awake and in a good mood ready to take on my work for the day.
Recently, as I have been planning to head home for the holidays, I found myself thinking that I was lucky to be living in the place that I used to picture when it was too cold to be outside. Growing up in central Ohio has made me no stranger to the harshness that winter months can bring; I am well versed in big snow events and sub-zero temperatures. As most Ohioans do, I would complain about the grey skies, cold temperatures, and slushy roads all while mentally teleporting myself to the beach or the mountains. As I have been learning more about ecosystem services, I find that my mind always conjures up examples of your typical vacation spots: the beach, the mountains, etc. while neglecting the notion that those services can be experienced anywhere.
Central Ohio may not be the most popular vacation site for outdoor enthusiasts, but that doesn’t make it any less equipped to provide the same benefits to its residents as other locations. Ecosystem services are not reserved only for national parks, coastlines, or the most faraway exotic places. They apply everywhere! Watching the sun rise on my way to school back home had the same positive influence on my day that looking out on the water in the mornings does now.
I realize now that elements of nature around my hometown have been a formative part of the childhood memories I cherish most dearly. As I make plans to travel back there in the coming weeks, I am excited to be surrounded by the natural environments I grew up in because they hold such a special place in my heart. Once again, I will get to go hiking with my family, sip coffee by the Christmas tree while we hopefully watch snow fall outside, or stroll around my favorite historical areas in downtown Columbus for some fresh air. The saying “Home for the Holidays” doesn’t just mean being with my family again; it also means getting to experience those ecosystem services with them once again and reliving some of our favorite memories together.
Happy Holidays everyone!