Have I ever told you how much I love nature — trees and bees and deer and babbling brooks and other outdoorsy, green and brown nature-y stuff?
That's right, I haven't. And do you know why I haven't? Because I'm not a liar. I've seen nature, and it doesn't impress me. I grew up in the Bronx. Trees just make it harder to play stickball in the gutter.
So how can we explain that I just came back from a completely voluntary day trip, in nearly 100-degree heat, to Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.'s, 2,000-acre unspoiled nature place?
My column is published nationally but it originates in the Washington Post Magazine, which is run by an editor named Lynn, who somehow never got the memo that I am a beloved national treasure who gets to write what he wants when he wants to, dagnabbit.
A few weeks ago, Lynn informed me that the magazine is doing a whole issue related to Rock Creek Park and that it would be "nice" — she said "nice" real nice, but it was like Hitler observing it might be "nice" if France surrendered on its own before regrettable things happened — if my column was part of that package.
Now, I know that Lynn worried that I'd do this grudgingly. But nothing could be further from the truth. I went off on this mission — did I mention it was almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest day of the year? — entirely without rancor, particularly after doing some basic research on Rock Creek Park, which, according to the National Park Service website, is "truly a gem in our nation's capital."
Well, I am back from Rock Creek Park and can report that nature is swell. Seriously! I was a nature-hater, but I am here to say I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
I had not been in the park for five minutes when I spotted my first wildlife, and, as God is my witness, it was a bear! In downtown Washington! A big, lumbering bear, not 50 feet away; but ensconced as I was in this unsullied nature place, I felt no fear. Not long after, I saw an orangutan in a tree, swinging from limb to limb.
By the time my day at Rock Creek Park was over, I had also seen a 150-pound Komodo dragon, a really fancy-looking shrimp, four zebras, an elephant and a giant panda.
Thanks for the day at the zoo, Lynn. You probably didn't know this — most people don't — but, technically, the National Zoo is considered part of Rock Creek Park. You can look it up. I'll be filing my expenses for the hummus, the beer and the Dippin' Dots.
© 2014 Washington Post Writers Group