“We can fly. We can fly. We flew.” Peter Pan Disney movie

Welcome to London in 1904. Opening night for the much anticipated new play called Peter Pan. The show’s producer is extremely frustrated because the play-write James Barrie has reserved 24 seats scattered throughout the theater for non-paying, young children from the nearby orphanage. Many stodgy attendees are forced to share their seats with the rumpled waifs.

This ploy turns out to be a stroke of genius by Barrie. From Act One’s opening moments, the children in the crowd are enraptured by the performance, and it is their awe, laughter and wonder that rapidly rubs off on the adults.

Neverland is that fantasy place where Indians, pirates and fairies all interact in one continual adventure. Neverland is a state of mind where simply believing can make one fly, and keep one young forever. Visually, Neverland is a natural paradise: pellucid ocean, rumbling volcanoes, lavish jungles, crocodiles of course, and all sorts of wilderness treasures.

Like all too many children’s classics, Peter Pan does not focus on the natural aspects of a special dreamland, but rather on the characters, plot and the dream itself: eternal youth. Nature and Neverland have much in common. They are both timeless places. The natural world is where we go to get away from the crunch of schedules, deadlines and alarm clocks. In Neverland, people never change, never grow up. In nature, we return to special wild places in hopes they haven’t changed during our absence. The Grand Canyon will always appear as a spectacular immutable landscape of sky and stone, the Great Smokies as a rolling carpet of deciduous green, and the Olympic National Park peninsula as a constant wave of sand and salt.

Unlike Neverland, it is we visitors who hopefully change from our experiences captured outdoors. We long to relax, to be refreshed as we make new discoveries along the way.

Neverland and nature can both offer dreamy fantasies. In the former, a meager fare becomes a fabulous feast, a fairy is saved merely by believing. In our true natural world, camping outdoors can reveal the Milky Way and provides chances to dream upon a shooting star. Dancing campfires bring to life lore and myth. All things are possible — a world at peace, a country without prejudice and seemingly miraculous events such as the eruption of a long dormant volcano (Mt. St. Helens) or watching wolves return to Oregon after a century’s absence.

Clap your hands if you believe ~