Would Mother Nature Approve?

At heart, I am a cave-girl. I love taking part in all of the typical outdoorsy activities such as hunting, fishing and especially camping. I could go out into the woods for weeks at a time, in silence and solitude, and still be content. Every summer, I escape to my little Minnesotan oasis, which lies truly in the middle of nowhere. To the rest of the world, that piece of land is known as 3297 Crow Wing River Dr., but to me, it is so much more. When I am on my yearly retreat, my sentiments are similar to those of Ralph Waldo Emerson, as expressed at the beginning of Nature. "To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber and from society." These two weeks in Minnesota are always the best of the year because I can relax and take things at my own, and usually slower pace. I remember times, not so long ago, when I would sit on the bank of the Crow Wing River just to watch and listen to nature exist around me. Recently, it has gotten to the point that you can only sit in silence for a few minutes until a hoard of tourists speed past in their fancy bass boats, complete with unnecessary 'fun decks,' 300 horse power outboard motors and jet skis, and in the process, destroying miles of shoreline and fish habitat.

While it is nice to vacation in Minnesota, the sector of nature that I visit most often lies in my own backyard, just a few steps outside of the cocoon that is my home. My yard is about an acre, even though we live within the city. My brother's adjoining yard is nearly the same size. While having that much yard makes for a lot of time spent cutting grass, I would not have it any other way. The yard contains my Dad's multiple, but equally loved gardens in which he spends most of his time. Under his ministrations, the gardens are always overflowing with large produce and exquisite flowers. It is because of my upbringing in such an environment that I disagree with Chief Seattle in his 'Message to President Franklin Pierce.' He says, "There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the leaves of spring of the rustle of insect's wings." My home is living proof that, while Chief Seattle's statement may be true in most cases, there is an exception to every rule.

Often when large companies begin to speak out in favor of the environment, and try to give back, I grow suspicious. I frequently find myself questioning the motives of said company. Such was my reaction to the Royal Dutch/Shell advertisement, 'Cloud the Issue of Clear the Air?' I do not know the exact set of circumstances that lead to the publication of this particular ad. Was it media pressure? A response to critics? Or was it a genuine concern for the world around us? I cannot say for sure. Either way, I suppose that results will be the same for the environment. However, I believe that intentions are just as, if not more important that results.

Chicago's suburbs, though creeping ever closer, have not yet reached my Illinois Valley home, and for that simple fact, I am utterly glad. My natural surroundings have always greatly influenced my life. I have always aspired to being a writer, and Illinois' particular brand of nature inspires me more often than anything else.

One day, I went hiking in Matthessien State Park. I had parked near the lake shelter, and then proceeded to descend down many flights of wooden stairs, into the nearest canyon. I jumped from the ground to the first strategically placed rock that stood only about a foot into the stream. I continued to make my way across the water in this fashion. When I had reached the edge, I continued my walk. I turned a corner and found myself dumbstruck by the beauty I was witnessing. At first, I could not understand why I was so awed. I had seen that same thing at least a million times before, but at that moment it was as though my sight had been renewed. But truly, it did not matter how or why, it only mattered that it was so. I snapped a picture with my digital camera, and then began to search wildly in my pockets for the small notebook and pencil that I knew was there. After only a few moments, I was victorious. I rushed to sit on the nearest boulder and began to write furiously. I have no idea how long I sat there. I only know that when I looked up, the sun was beginning to set and I realized that I had better get out of there quickly if I didn't want to become Oglesby Fire Department's next search and rescue call. When I got home, I went to look at the product of my awe, and found that I had written poetry rather than prose:

I hear the voice

In which nature calls to me.

I hum along

With the tune it sings

I read the poem

Which it has written to me –

--to me alone…

So many voices,

Coming together,

Sounding as one.

The collaborative effort

Of INSPIRATION

Is at work.

I am searching…

Searching for morning…

The birth of a new day.

I AM.

…but what am I?

To be accepted,

~Must I conform

To a label—

—Merely a word?

Time flows forever on,

And on…

Never letting go,

Never catching up,

Always counting toward THE END

Of every endless day.

I catch glimpses of

~Reds, Oranges and Yellows.

Leaves.

Blowing in the breeze.

This is what is real.

(Not those fake,

pasted on expressions

given to you by your

ignorant "peers.")

This is tangible, concrete…

…Beautiful…

Oh, what you can see,

When you open your eyes,

When you finally accept

that You are not

The Center

Of the Universe.

It shocked me, and yet, on some level, I knew that the poetry conveyed more than simple observations listed on a piece of paper ever could. When I look back upon that day, I realize that day was the first that I ever thought that my dreams could actually come true. So, for this constant encouragement, I must extend my most sincere thanks and try to return the favor as much as is possible.

Not only is nature a thing of beauty and encouragement, it gives us what we need to survive. It gives us the ultimate gift; literally, the fruits of its labor. In the grand scheme, it asks little in return, but what it asks is of utmost importance. It asks to not be destroyed.