It might be getting a little chilly outside, but as any Kansan knows, our state’s soul resides in wide-open expanses of prairie and plains.


Nature is out there, and it’s not waiting for a television show to finish or a YouTube video to appear in your personalized feed. Nature surrounds us all, in exciting and sometimes slightly scary ways.


Take this news item from The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Tim Hrenchir: "State wildlife professionals wonder if a mountain lion caught on camera in late October in southwest Kansas has become the first of its species known to have come to Kansas and stayed.


"The state has had 21 confirmed mountain lion sightings since 2007, but all of those before last month appeared to be young adult cats who were on the move, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said."


That’s amazing. The sight of wild creatures, moving in their own mysterious paths and toward their own purposes, can be astonishing. Of course, in this case the mountain lion appeared to be carrying the body of a porcupine. We hope the lion decided to wear some face protection, or at least floss afterward.


But nature is our realm, too. That was shown in the heartwarming story of Lillian Burch, 17, who went on her first hunt with her dad, Travis, last month.


Members of their hunting party dropped out because of the pandemic, but Lillian and Travis (along with some family members) made it to the Eckman Hunting Preserve in Baldwin City.


"The feeling and rush you get when you first shoot the gun and actually hit your target is such a powerful feeling," said Lillian, according to the Capital-Journal’s Josh Rouse. "I got to shoot my great-grandpa’s gun for my first hunt, too, and it was really special. It was so exciting and tiring at the same time. I loved the family time I got to spend with the men in my life."


And that’s the thing about the big outdoors. It’s a place where we can come together with friends and loved ones and experience something greater, older, and more important than ourselves.


Especially now, as COVID-19 makes indoor gatherings more challenging, we can all enjoy the opportunity afforded by nature. Take a walk. Explore the woods. Take a drive out to the prairie. Enjoy all this state has to offer.


But you might want to wear a hat.