From nature – 23/31 #SOL20

I am looking up at the night sky, the nearly full moon in clear view and I notice that my breath comes easy, most natural, as if my looking and my breathing is one continuous motion. Breathe in the moon, breathe out the moon.Image result for night moon

I remember frequently looking skyward as a child studying the cloud formations as I lay in the grass of my front yard, sweet green grounding me, or watching the trails of planes from the beaches of Killbear Provincial Park, warm sand hugging me. Someone once told me that people who notice the sky are healthy because they are connected to nature.

I was reminded of my skywatching days when @hystericalblkns posted this picture on Twitter and I felt an early pull.

This sky by @hystericalblkns

For two months each year of my childhood, my family lived outside, camping everywhere that we travelled: each stop on a 6000 mile journey was a new lesson from the Earth. The Prairies, the Rockies, Bryce and Grand Canyon, the deserts of Nevada and Tiauana, Mexico. We had no electricity, no cell phones or social media. For most of our trip, we lived in nature.

When camping for 10 weeks at a time in the Muskokas, I would catch frogs and create cities out of sand and water, forest and rock. Many hours were devoted to constructing vast amphibian empires that would fall overnight, my slimy captives breaking free. But time spent temporarily arresting them, living in the natural world, forged a deep connection. This was my toybox where I touched and smelled and learned.

For many years, I lost the sky and floated without knowledge of its power and potential in me. I once thought my desperate desire to camp and bike ride through forests with my first partner, was a yearning for family tradition, but it wasn’t just that. I continued to feel the pull of sweeping whites, skyward blues and blacks even after we split. My now husband understood this force without words and we built a life outside, camping, and walking in the forest as part of our communal nature. Those times on beaches near water, in the woods next to crackling fires, looking skyward restored me.

When studying literature, I often tell my students to look for the contrasts, the juxtapositions that reveal some concept or idea about the human experience. I am looking up and realize my paradoxical position. Staring into the night sky, the air above me where only visions of place exist in a mist, I am feeling grounded. I can study all the books, and identify all the themes, and intellectually indulge in all of life’s lessons, yet lose my way.

I think to myself, “how did I allow my life get so removed from nature?” And I wonder how many others are asking this too.

Published by Melanie White

I am an English and Media Studies teacher, and Department Head of Fine Arts at Nepean High School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am concerned with equity and antiracist practices while recognizing that I am speaking from a position of privilege and continuing to learn.

6 thoughts on “From nature – 23/31 #SOL20

  1. 10 weeks of camping a year is AMAZING and certainly cemented your connection to nature – even if you at times have strayed. I have a few, short camping memories that are powerful and reminders that we are most alive when we connect to nature. These days, I walk, slowly and take time to notice the ducks, pussy willows, crocuses….. They give me hope and provide a promise that the world will live on……….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I can study all the books, and identify all the themes, and intellectually indulge in all of life’s lessons, yet lose my way.” I find this irresistibly compelling. Your connection to nature comes through as both innate and deeply learned. It is in any case a part of who you are. Even in this short slice, that much is evident.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes and yes. Today I finally threw in the towel & left: I went for a walk without waiting for others, without asking permission, without finishing anything. This time of confinement is making me aware of how important nature is to me – even though I had not noticed.
    Also, this line made me smile, “Many hours were devoted to constructing vast amphibian empires that would fall overnight, my slimy captives breaking free.” Evocative and wonderful. This is one life I lived, one life I hope for my children.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, it never leaves even in old age – I am never complete whatever the season unless I have clear view of the wildlife and growing things in my garden, and self-isolation is not at all a trial, but a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A whole summer of 🏕 awesome! Also awesome to be grounded by the sky. Spent many moments looking up myself: at clouds, at sunsets, at sunrises, at snowflakes, at the moon, and most particularly at those sparkling stars.

    Liked by 1 person

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