I remember with nostalgia the picnics with my family in my dear country of origin, Chile, in South America. The picnic lunch always began by making the sandwiches followed by boiling eggs which are a classic in Chilean’s picnic culture. My parents were not the outdoorsy type, but nonetheless we all enjoyed our time in nature, with the ever-present majestic Andes Mountains surrounding us. Now in the States, every time I bring my little son to the beautiful Washington & Old Dominion trail by our house memories of past picnics come to me when I see families, mostly Hispanic, picnicking next to the stream.
I think it’s not a cliché that we, Latinos, are attached to our families and that the meals we share are special events of communion among our loved ones. In this sense, picnics are an example that with the same love and passion for nature we are closer to the “social outdoors experience” than the “solitude hike” portrayed by the influential American conservationist, John Muir.
As Hispanics, many of us share an indigenous cultural heritage which values the connection to our origins in Mother Earth, la Pachamama, commonly depicted in indigenous Andean culture. This is a value that I want to pass on to my son. Mother Earth provides for us, therefore it is our responsibility to relate to her in sustainable ways. Nature gives us much more which is of importance for a healthy child, the value of simplicity, interconnectivity of environments, and overall, nature also provides us with beauty to our spirit. In a world bombarded with material “needs”, overrated individualism and overly produced “beauty,” I strongly believe that time in nature will be translated to positive emotions, fun memories and interesting knowledge that I can pass on to my dear son. It would be Pachamama’s heritage to him, passed through his mother to stay with him for years to come.
About the author: Isabel Long is native from Chile. She works for the Bureau of Land Management- Eastern States at the Department of the Interior. She is the co-founder of BLM-Eastern States Diverse Youth Outings Project in partnership with the Sierra Club, the National Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC), The National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC), and the Cesar Chavez Charter School in Washington D.C.
Isabel lives in Arlington with her husband Jonathan and her son, Dante. She enjoys bicycling, hiking, walking, practicing yoga, and traveling.