My Love Affair With Nature
I’m falling in love again…with Nature. It’s easy to do this as a child, of course. Wonderment and childhood go hand in hand. But to do this later in life, well, there’s a special something that happens. That wonderment has a maturity and childlike quality that together feed the soul like nothing else.
I’ve never lived anywhere immersed in full-on nature. I grew up in a residential area of Detroit before moving to the concrete jungle of NYC. People wonder how I can live here and be such a lover of nature.
But we New Yorkers fiercely treasure our parks. Just look out of the airplane window when you fly over the city and you will be amazed at how massive Central Park is in relation to all of the buildings surrounding it. I live in downtown Manhattan and just a 10-minute walk gets me to the Hudson River where there are miles and miles of green space. It is my refuge, just as the park at the end of my street in Detroit was my refuge growing up. I would ride my bike to the corner and hide in a little patch of trees (more like shrubs!) on the edge of a huge park pretending I was in a forest.
How I Go to the Woods
“Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.” – Mary Oliver
Now I ride my trusty bike to a semi-secluded tree-lined spot along the river where I can rest and dream and write. It’s where I go when I need to clear my head and ground myself, retreating from the noise and hustle and bustle of the city.
It’s where I went when my partner Ralph died. We biked that path together hundreds of times. I spread some of his ashes by the boulders where I like to sit and I always feel his comforting presence when I am there.
A couple of years ago I kept saying to people, “Do you notice how different the clouds look these days?” I thought for sure it was global-warming related. But in reality, it was just me really looking, seeing them as if for the first time with the innocent eyes of a child. I can’t take my eyes off of them now and that can be a problem when you’re walking around a busy city like New York. Other people have their eyes on their cell phones, but mine
Other people have their eyes on their cell phones, but my eyes are usually turned up at the clouds these days. They take my breath away sometimes and I can feel my spirit soar in their presence. My friend, Katie, swears that left to my own devices, I would sit on a rock and stare at the clouds all day. She knows me too well.
I just returned from a week spent in the Sonoran desert at the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. It was my fourth trip there in less than a year, and in a million years I never thought I would travel there, let alone fall in love with the unique beauty of the desert. But my energy healing teacher,
An energy healing teacher, Deborah King, has settled there doing private sessions and gathering her students for her experiential workshops. It has been another incredibly serendipitous gift that I have been given later in my life. Deborah has written a wonderful article called “Connecting With Your Earth Star.” Take a moment to learn how to ground yourself and connect with our Mother Earth. Doing the exercise surrounded by nature will make the experience even more special.
From the time I was a child and as I became an artist, I was always drawn to abstraction. I would seek out the least representational art in the museums and stare at the lines and shapes scratched into stone and wood by the Native Americans and the Egyptians. Even though there was often imagery involved, it had a childlike quality that has always appealed to me.
As I walked around the desert last week with my camera always handy, I became aware of the abstract beauty of so much of what I was seeing. I saw paintings in nature wherever I looked.
I felt a rush of long-dormant creative energy flowing through me and my soul was singing in gratitude for taking notice of all the beauty surrounding me.
Today is Earth Day. I hope we can all start to look at our precious planet with new eyes and a determined spirit to make right what we have so egregiously wronged. Our Mother Earth has selflessly nurtured us for over 200,000 years. I think it’s time we started giving back.
Seeing me with my camera, a man passing by pointed out a large rock with holes ground into it down in the ravine below. He told me that it was a grinding hole used by the Hohokam Indians hundreds of years ago to grind mesquite beans into flour. He pointed out the smaller holes and said that those were where the little children would help their mother.
I was so excited you would have thought I had just stumbled upon King Tut’s tomb!
Speaking of art, last February at one of Deborah’s workshops, I had the thrill of meeting award-winning director, producer, and cinematographer, Louie Schwartzberg. Perhaps you’ve seen his heart-opening short film called “Gratitude” floating around the internet. Louie’s profound love of nature is evident. He has been filming time-lapse photography of flowers nonstop 24 hours a day, seven days a week for over 35 years! His latest film is called “Wings of Life”. Narrated by Meryl Streep, “Wings of Life” tells the story of pollination and how our very survival depends on it.
As we watched some short segments of the film, I found myself holding my breath, so taken was I by what I was witnessing. I glanced at the filmmaker and saw a look of awe and wonderment (there’s that word again) on Louie’s face while watching his own film. You could see the deep love this man has for Mother Nature and his determination to do his part to help save her from destruction. He has given us a gift through his creativity and passion. I encourage you to buy the film and show it to everyone you can – especially your children. They will have a new reverence and respect for the flowers, the bees, the butterflies and the birds.