You can't look for it. The value of living in the present, opening your mind to the universe, and listening to the voice of Nature is validated at those moments when we feel that deep connection to the rawness of Earth. Finding that connection by listening to the land and its components is a practice many have neglected in their pursuit of control and the lure of false security. We go about our lives with expectations, and in those expectations, we have preconceived ideas. We have been taught, somewhere along the line, that we must control everything, and that money and power brings us greater control. It is this control that pools the wool over our eyes, and makes many oblivious to not just the beauty and complexity of Nature, but the answers which Nature is attempting to convey.
I habitually use the term Nature in my writing, and it begs the question, what is Nature? Nature is everywhere and it is represented by the biological organisms and the physical processes that depend on each to ensure life occurs in the most harmonious, efficient manner possible on this planet. Those that understand Nature this way will agree with the philosophy of a man-Nature disconnect that routinely surfaces in my posts. Our society is neglecting the need for a true relationship with Nature and the Land it inhabits. At risk is our ability to communicate with Nature and understand the Land.
Earth, Nature, and the Land is as real as it gets. I truly believe that Mother Earth and the laws of Nature that comprise her are aware of those that respect the Land and share their energy with it. The reward for those that develop this connection with the Land, listen to Nature, and understand the importance of place on Earth can not be acquired by power, politics, money or possessions. There must be an understanding between man and Nature, and a relationship must exist between the Land and its inhabitants if we wish to continue residing here.
Many walk through this life with preconceived ideas, looking for answers in places and enterprises that pull us further away from the Land. The mass of individuals comprising today’s society are failing to keep rhythm with Nature. Should we continue to move forward under the aforesaid circumstances, we will continue to forfeit the many gifts Nature has to offer.
My fascination with Native Americans and their relationship with the Land exemplifies the connection we must strive for today. Wisdom resides with the Native American, and there is much we can learn from their ways and their words. The late 19th century Teton Sioux medicine man, Brave Buffalo, once said “I have noticed in my life that all men have a liking for some special animal, tree, plant, or spot of earth. If men would pay more attention to these performances and seek what is best to do in order to make themselves worthy of that toward which they are so attracted, they might have dreams which would purify their lives. Let a man decide upon his favorite animal and make a study of it, learning its innocent ways. Let him learn to understand its sounds and motions. The animals want to communicate with man, but Wakantanka does not intend they shall do so directly – man must do the greater art in securing an understanding.”
Too many people today are using their souls to bargain with enterprises that return nothing of purity. We are putting our trust and soul into men that are taking that energy and contributing to the very enterprises that pull us further away from what it is that we not only need, but what we all long for.
If we stop to think about the problems facing the world today, we will see that those problems are a manifestation of man forgetting his place on this planet. Our “advances” have actually set us back, and removed us spiritually from the Land. The condition of the Land, the health of the Earth’s biomes, and the Spirit of man are in jeopardy if we continue to treat it as a resource, and neglect communing with Nature.
Inspiration for this post comes from an evening a couple weeks ago in which a snow storm, a pine tree, and a camp fire spoke words of wisdom, like that conveyed by Brave Buffalo. After a large offshore low migrated up the coast and moved north of the Mid Atlantic region, our landscape was left under a thick blanket of snow and a sharp northeast wind that ushered in a bitter cold. An excellent opportunity for the game of wildlife hide and seek awaited. Warding off cabin fever, Lindsey Buckman and I scurried up to Cape Henlopen Sate Park. Single digit temperatures and thigh deep snow drifts tend to keep the hiking trails in this area relatively quiet, from the human. Lindsey welcomed the opportunity as prime time to savor a moment with the infamous snowy owl, and I was convinced that the endless tracks in the snow would lead me to the always elusive, and forever mystical, solitary red fox. Nature spoke through the many warblers, finches, blue birds, and herons that went about their daily lives on that cold January afternoon. Nature guided us through the woods and the sand dunes with the foot prints of local fox and racoon. After a few hours of trekking through snow drifts and unable to spot an owl or a fox, it was apparent that we were looking too hard. With silence on our side, snow on the ground, and a plethora of tracks, I was certain the owl would appear before us and the fox I had been tracking would reward my efforts. You can't look for it. In a way, I was trying to control how Nature would speak to me, and by doing so, I wasn't fully open to the language of Nature. I was limiting myself to one language, but Nature speaks many languages and answers us in different ways. Knowing those languages and the manner in which they are conveyed is the skill we must preserve if we are going to understand this world and our place in it.
After returning home, my mind was open, I was relaxed, and in rhythm. I had spent a day hiking through snow with my best friend observing the local wildlife at one of our nearby State Parks. Clarity and sense of the world happened because I was open to the Land around me, and thankful for the simplicity our Earth offers. I was content and at ease with the warmth of the fire that Lindsey had made on the snow in front of my rancher. I had warmth around me, snow beneath my feet, and the shadow of the trees above my head. And in that moment, in the small notch of a pine tree that rests in front of my house, a woodpecker was seeking a last minute refugee from the wind and cold. As we stood in front of this amazing bird, literally inches away, admiring it as it huddled into this perfectly spaced hollow of a pine tree, a fox dashed pass the fire and into the small tract of woods in front of my house.
...all in a day.
Leave control out of your life. Open your mind to the Land. Renew your relationship with the Earth. Listen to Nature. Sometimes the answers we're looking for are nestled in the notch of a pine tree.
And just like that, an entire county can shut down. It's weather like this that first sparked my interest in science and the natural world. The power of Nature continues to, and will always keep things in check. The snow. The cold. The wind. A few elements on this planet that are oh so humbling. Nature speaks to us every day, and today she is speaking loud enough for everyone to hear. Enjoy the snow, stay safe, and read a book.
We all feel the need to get a little fresh air from time to time. The outdoors is an invaluable resource. Immersing ourselves in the outdoors enables us to develop a level of respect and understanding for the animals and physical processes that characterize the outdoors. By doing so, we can improve our health, and the health of the environment. More so today than ever, getting outside and away from the hustle bustle of our everyday lives is critical. The outdoors allows us time to free our minds and forget about the stress society places on us. From something as simple as taking a short walk along the waters edge, to embarking on a week long kayak trip down the Sinepuxent Bay, getting outside, moving our bodies, and listening to our surroundings offers our minds, bodies, and soul a temporary escape. With Winter in full force and the recent cold spell that's become the talk of the town the past couple weeks, getting outside may take a little extra motivation. This time of year many dread even a walk to the mailbox. But Winter, and the cold this special season brings has much to offer. Cold, dry air brings the horizon into focus and resides as a prime time for Nature photographers to take advantage of the exceptional clarity. So, layer up, fill the thermos with some hot coffee, and take a stroll through you local walking trail. Go for a walk in the woods. Visit your National and State Parks. I think you'll find that once you're moving around and listening to the land, you'll develop an appreciation for cold weather. This is a shorter piece than I would usually post, and intentionally, because I'm ready to get back outside, explore, and learn. Stay warm folks, and enjoy.