One of the best things about my freelance writing work is that I get to explore a side of America that delights me. Today I got to meet yet another person who loves nature. My interviewee for the day, Kathy Altmann, is the Bushkill Stream Conservancy’s president. When I asked what motivates her to keep up all the hard, unpaid work, she began to describe the pleasure she gets from being outdoors, the place she has loved since childhood.

When the interview was over, she stole a few minutes to take me outside to her native wildflower garden. It was easy to imagine the brown stalks and seedheads as green and thriving, and she was clearly looking forward to spring.

I asked her to recommend a place nearby — accessible in the still-snow-covered conditions — for visiting the Bushkill, a stream that flows from the Kittatinny Ridge to the Delaware River in Easton, Pennsylvania and the centerpiece of her environmental conservation efforts. The park that she recommended included a paved trail that paralleled the stream. There, I watched a beautifully painted wood duck and an underwater-diving hooded merganser float in a buffered oasis that flowed between a heavily traveled road and commercial loading dock.

Walking a path along the Bushkill Creek in Palmer Township, PA
Walking a path along the Bushkill Creek in Palmer Township, PA

Throughout my interview with her and long into my stroll among other walkers, a theme resonated in my head: people love the outdoors.

They care about it. They want to be free to enjoy it. To enjoy it freely, they need it to exist in the unpaved in-between places. And most of all, there are a great many people who give their time to protect and conserve Nature, not just for themselves, but also for the strangers and all the many generations to come. Together we are partners, protecting the love of “being outside.”

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