When my husband and I began dating, he took me out of my comfort zone and dragged me back into nature.
I am no stranger to the healing properties of the natural world. My childhood home butted right up against woods, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend most of the day exploring.
The woods always seemed to welcome me, and left me gifts: the bleached skull of a squirrel, tiny violets and wild roses, quartz, the chance to see a bat up close as it slept under a leaf.
As I grew older, I started to pull away from the outdoors. There was so much else to worry about—-college, work, friends, books, art, a career—-that it fell by the wayside, and my hobbies began to consist solely of indoor pursuits. Nature became something I viewed as a former lover; I still thought of it fondly, but was shy about getting back in touch.
Meeting Mike changed this.
I remember our first hike together, the deep grooves in the dirt where people had ignored the posts and used motorized scooters, the deep bruises where they hurt Her. I apologized for this sin that wasn’t my sin, over and over in my head.
A cardinal overhead looked me in the eye before taking flight, and some part of me knew that I had been heard.
Later, at the summit of our climb, I stood on the bluff overlooking the river while the breeze played with my hair. I breathed in deep, of so many smells and so much life, and I knew how much my soul had been missing. I wanted to spend my life cherishing every leaf and speck of dirt and rain drop and blade of grass.
Nature doesn’t care what my outfit is or what my hair looks like or that I’m sweaty. It just is; it makes no apologies for how it looks and it asks nothing of you, but if you love it, and are good to it, sometimes it will be good to you, too.
Nature has this way of making you feel so small, yet so incredibly connected to everything.
Sara, I really enjoy your writing. Thanks for sharing this one. You should read “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold. It’s from another era, but not so far from ours.