Personal Nature


Last night I was on my back deck grilling some chops. We tend to eat late and what with the days getting shorter it was just starting to get dark. My house sits on a small hill looking southward over a horse pasture. While waiting for my supper to cook, I stood at the deck rail for a while to study the sky.

The air was clear and still with a little autumn bite to it – frost warnings tonight. All the heavens above me were clear, clean, richly robed in blue and purple without a trace of cloud. The purest blue was in the west where the sun, recently fallen behind the rim of the earth, still gave off a faint rumor of its presence. Rising up from the west, I let my eyes trace backward along the sun’s long arc. The blue became darker and deeper as I traveled toward the zenith and then little by little, wavelength by wavelength, as I slid down the other side, it transformed to a lush royal purple and so further down darker and deeper until at last I reached, rising up from the east of the world, a thin sliver, the edge of night, slowly peeling back the thick strokes of color leaving only transparent black.

Stars that had been covered by bright blue all day long were getting ready for their unveiling, but for now only two things broke the otherwise perfectly smooth surface. The moon, waxing toward its first quarter, looked like a hole cut neatly through the canvas letting hot white light from some unseen source behind stream down on me. Up a bit and a little to the left of the moon was another hole, this time just a pin prick piercing through; Jupiter, the moon’s companion for a few nights.
water streaks
I stood in the semi-darkness of my own little auditorium quietly watching nature paint until finally I needed to head inside to finish up supper – back to the lights, the TV, the clatter of dishes, my family, the warmth. Later in the evening, after the washing up, play time, reading bedtime stories to my son and turning out the light, I stepped back out to see what had happened while I was away.

Now was the time for stars. The moon had moved off to one side yeilding the center to them. Using the clear black of night as a background, they showed themselves off – shining, sparkling, twinkling, singing. The beauty of the stars was of a different kind than the smooth richness of the early evening; cold, lofty, sharp, pointed.

Earlier the colors had changed even as I watched and only lasted a few precious minutes. The stars move at a slower pace, gleaming the whole night through. A camera with its unblinking eye would show up their spinning, but with only my impatient human eye I couldn’t precieve them moving at all. Again I watched until cold and need drove me inside.

“The stars at night stoop down over the brownest, homeliest common with all the spiritual magnificence which they shed on the Campagna, or the marble deserts of Egypt. The uprolled clouds and the colors of morning and evening will transfigure maples and alders. The difference between landscape and landscape is small, but there is great difference in the beholders.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson
fallen leaf
We don’t always need to trek all over the place seeking out the great nature meccas, like Yosemite Park for instance which is visited by 3.5 million people a year. Certainly these places are vital to us and should be preserved and enjoyed as much as possible, but nature can and should most often be found close to home – in our back yards, our gardens, our fields, and our local parks.

We need to slow ourselves down and look out the window once in a while. We need to go out on our decks or up on our rooftops, look up, watch the heavens play. We must learn to preserve and enjoy the life of the earth all around us everyday, not just for a couple weeks a year when we load up the wagon and drive off to some “destination”.



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3 Responses to “Personal Nature”

  1. suburbanlife Says:

    You wrote this beautifully and convincingly, and I concur with you. Fonding the magic and wonder of nature is so simple – it is at every turn, with us moment by moment, present in every time of day and weather – it just requires one to pay attention. Thanks for the reminder. G

  2. forestrat Says:

    Thanks G.

    It always seems like there is something else to do rather than take time to watch the sky or listen to the birds. Taking photos and writing help to remind me.


  3. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Your writing of this is so poetic – beautiful.
    And it’s true. Beauty is all around us if we just wish to stop to see it.

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