A Desperate Need for Nature

I hope that many of you have been able to catch the new Ken Burns documentary on the U.S. National Parks (PBS, Sundays at 8:00, or check your local listings). Aside from offering incredible visuals, all in high definition, it tells the story of the birth of our country as we know it today. It’s so hard to believe that less than 150 years ago, the West was completely wild. It was a lot easier back then to get legislation related to protecting wildlands passed because most politicians knew they would never get to see it (or find voters out there).

The first episode this past week told the story of John Muir, whom I had always admired but never quite knew much about. What surprised me is that he wasn’t a “mountain man” who chose to live out in nature his whole life. He actually went back and forth between nature and “civilization” as a talented inventor and industrial worker, a writer, and even an orchardist (he ran his father-in-law’s orchard). But as he aged, he needed nature more than ever, and sought out wildness wherever and whenever he could. In nature, he found the God that his abusive preacher father had tried to beat into him as a child. (Why is it that so many “religious” people can justify violence and abuse?)

Anyway, I was thinking about my own desperate need for nature on a much smaller scale. It involves sleeping with the windows open. I love it this time of year when the night air is cool—and even slightly frosty—but the crickets are still singing real slowly (did you know you can tell the temperature outside by the speed of their “cricking?” Count the number of chirps in 15 seconds, add 37, and you get the approximate temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. Snuggled under all my soft and comfy organic bedding, I am feeling all warm and wonderful, while the air in the room is sweet, cool, and so refreshing. It’s an elixir that is priceless.

I spend a lot of time in New York City these days. It’s exciting and action-packed there, and every week I meet so many wonderful new people and do my best to move the world a little closer towards health and happiness.. But even the fanciest New York hotel can’t provide me with the ultimate luxury: fresh night air, the sound of crickets (and the occasional fox, which kind of sounds like a barking cat), and the sweetest fragrance of nature, for which I have a desperate need.

Aside from my glorious kids and husband, it’s what I love most about coming home.

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3 Responses to A Desperate Need for Nature

  1. Donna in DE September 30, 2009 at 8:38 am #

    Tell me about it! I live for this time of the year when, as you say, the night air is cool and sometimes slightly frosty. I too have my bedroom window open and my lovely flannel sheets and goose down comforter on the bed and I get all snuggly with my husband and sleep well. I wait all year for this time, not that the other seasons doesn’t have its virtues, but this is the most pleasing to my senses, the smells and sights of my surrondings, nature and earth, etc.

    Religious people justify violence and abuse because they are cowards, by using and hiding behind what they read in the Bible, not realizing that some things that is said and done in the Bible was meant for those situations, for those times. So they use it tojustify their behaviors (usually bad). I have come across this situation numerous times in the past and a few times in the present, not for myself, but others that I knew who grew up with a father that was a minister, one in my old neighborhood to boot! They are sad and sorry individuals. Hopefully their children grew up to be productive, caring individual like John Muir, without much psychological scarring.

    Yes, I have been watching Mr. Burns National Parks series. He is an excellent historian/filmmaker/documentarian. I try never to miss anything that he does. I too have learned a great deal about the creation of the nation’s parks. Amazing and typical that we have to destroy first, then barely wake up. I thank God for those men, for saving nature from greedy, piggish men or we would have nothing in this country today to enjoy and for the world to come to our door to see. I have been to many countries, and they all have some fantastic vistas and grand natural sites, but there is beauty beyond compare in this country, and we should all strive to keep it as such. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, “Leave it as it is, man cannot improve it, he can only mar it”. Enough said.

    As for my own desperate need for nature, I visit the woods, or a farm, orchard, mountain retreat or simply stare at the night sky at this time of the year. To smell the earth and the leaves and fires in the hearth (not necessarily healthy, but it suited our ancestors). Last night the moon was beautiful and the North Star was just below it. They shone so beautifully. I stood, watched, smiled and went to bed. God and nature at work and at their best. What more can you ask for?

  2. Sarah in San Diego September 30, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    Even here in Southern California the brisk fall air in delightful through the night. I too am someone who sleeps under down with the window open. Such wonder sleep this produces.
    My first experience sleeping like this was in a lodge in the Black Forest of Germany. The pure air of the Black Forest is something I never experienced before. That started my sleeping with the windows open and under down. I only wish the air was as pure here. This makes me want to go to the mountains.

  3. Sarah in San Diego September 30, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    I’d also like to add, that I too, am watching the National Park series.
    A wonderful program for those of us who have not seen all the glories of our country.
    I was struck by how blood thirsty Teddy Roosevelt was. Maybe my grandmother was right…he did beat his pony to death…..she had deep dislike for him.

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