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Weingarten: Out of the wild

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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?

Here's how:

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

Weingarten: Out of the wild 07/10/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 10, 2014 4:57pm]

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