“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks,
learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself
with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can”.”
~ John Muir
Love Your Mother
I have an inexplicable love of the natural world. I find the details and stuff of birds, animals, and fish, of rocks, rivers, and oceans, of sky and space, land and habitats fascinating. I say inexplicable because I’m not sure where it comes from. I’ve always been a girly girl. Not prissy or cute or squeamish, but neat and clean with no appreciation for dirt under my nails and an over-appreciation for bathing dry salt from my skin after a sweat. Plus, I like my clothes unwrinkled, my socks to contrastingly match my outfit, my shoes unscuffed, earrings in my ears. Did even when I wore flannel shirts every day.
Nothing that happened to me as a child instilled this love, either. Yes, I spent twelve hours a day outdoors when I was a school girl – when I wasn’t reading – collected snails in a jar at one time, vividly remember Disney’s animated paint brush sweeping across the screen, full watercolor scenes in its wake that morphed into real life moving images. But my family didn’t camp, view wilderness areas, or hike off sidewalks. A sandy beach, never more than an hour away my entire childhood through high school, was something my mother disliked. A photo of me at five in an immaculate sundress, my face contorted, eyes squinting from the sun epitomizes our trips to the shore until I was a teen and dad took me with him the days he fished. In other words, my parents were great with their hands, had flowers in the yard, but indulged no pleasure in gardening. My love comes from somewhere else.
We all have moments etched forever in our minds. One particularly important one for me was on a day my father asked me to cut his hair. He was dying with cancer, couldn’t move well. We went to the little screened porch at the back of his Florida house. I cut it the way he wanted, slicked back, cool like he always wore it, not the way I wanted to cut it. We sat quietly, afterwards. A small bird hopped about in a bush near the screen. “I wonder….” he said, his voice soft, not really speaking to me. Honestly, I can’t remember what he wondered about that bird. What I remember is the gentle light of humid air, how the warmth was the kind where lesser clothing would not be enough, one layer more too much. And I remember a tiny shock thinking he wonders. As if the word wonder on my father’s lips was the prick of a memory.
A friend said this morning some of us are born loving nature, some are not. I don’t agree. Because it’s clear to me now my love and awe is part and parcel of Me before I listened to the shoulds and oughts, before I learned pretty and ugly, before time took on meaning and busy meant something besides presence. The Me connected to the mystery of the Universe. For nature is surely the expression of every mystery we cannot know, do not know. Beautiful and challenging as experiencing another country and culture inside us. Something we know in our cells when we listen, see, wonder. That’s what I believe. What do you believe?
When I was out scouting things to draw, I slowed down…As I slowed down
things became brilliant. Grass growing through a cement crack, a stop sign
…suddenly mattered, because I saw them.
~ Natalie Goldberg (from Living Color – A Writer Paints Her World)
Another journey in mindfulness. Getting to Wise.
A Writers Life.
A secret: I don’t see much around me when I hike. I watch the ground so I don’t trip.
A favorite: The changes of light across landscapes and sky.
Happy Earth Day