How do you stay connected to nature, do you get to commune with it even in tiny glimpses? What outdoor activity do you dream about?   by    Ruth Utnage

I remember the first time I truly thought out nature in prison, it was April 15th 2014 at 8:00 PM. I had just been transferred to a different prison and that one had two outdoor yards (spaces we can workout in outdoors) and the one I was on had a soccer field inside of a track. I stood in the center of the field and was amazed that we were out after dark, it was the first time I had been allowed outside after dark in 4 years because that prison had proper lighting outdoors to allow for that.

I stood there in that field and looked up and for the first time in 4 years I seen the night sky and all its stars. I just stood there in aww of the whole thing and cried, it was so beautiful, so big and I didn’t know I missed it…needed it. It only took a few minutes before most of the yard stopped and just looked up at the night sky. Eventually most of us layed in the grass, crossed our feet and put our hands behind our heads and just watched in silence for the next 30 minutes.

That was when I knew I missed nature. That evening created a yearning inside of me that I can only describe as primal. Prison has a way of doing that, making everything animalistic and, well, primal. Smells became something I understood, like body odor. It is little things like…Poise pads, for instance. They have an odor to them I can smell when certain people walk by, it is awful! But I can also recognize people by smell as well. It’s the little things.

Sometimes, I swear, I think about eating spoonfuls of dirt. But not dirt in prison, just, I don’t know, making a dirt tea with dirt from the base of a mountain, with a forest that nobody hikes or camps in. Then drink it to replace the…missing stuff inside of me that I feel I washed away from years ago. The stuff I let go of as a kid and hid from as an adult and crave as a prisoner, whatever ‘that’ is.

I think about running my fingers over the texture of bark because I haven’t seen a tree up close in a decade. I’d be willing to bet that if the State planted a tree and charged admission for prisoners to sit around, they’d make a fortune. I frequently take my shoes and socks off and walk around the yard, as do many people, part of that primal thing I assume, it is a small way in which we can touch nature, it’s the only way in fact.

I think the one thing I dream about most though is jogging outside in terrain that differs. Not just a circle between barbed wire on top of chain link fencing, armed with rifles. Just being able to run wherever I want. I think about that most.

Okay, and blackberries. lol. I miss blackberries!

Thanks for that question, I needed that.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

Feel free to contact me, a little human contact is always welcome

Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-601-2
MCC-TRU
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage
823469