I’m a city girl through and through. Blight, poverty, noise, public transportation, walking for miles of city blocks, sailing by iffy situations; I know these things. As I write this now I’m listening to the dulcet tones of someone’s house alarm go on and on.
I came to appreciate nature later on in life. Hiking with my dog, and then falling in love with my garden. I saw incredible insects while out tending it, things I had never been exposed to. Hummingbird moths
, mantises, and swarms of bumble bees so intent on my lavender they barely noticed as I strode into their path.
My ex-husband and I built a large, modern home into a hillside with huge panes of glass opening to the tree tops. The effect was exactly as I had hoped, a full view of the woods in their resplendent glory. The outside almost in. We moved early Spring, just as the trees were budding. One morning I woke up to see the whole back of my house lit up by the chartreuse leaves. I was mesmerized.
That view gave me more than something pretty to look at. I learned to anticipate seasons, watch birds, and the deep relaxation of a snow fall. I felt connected to the outdoors.
Years later, when I was going through cancer treatments I fantasized about being in nature. Chemotherapy robbed my ability to read or enjoy food so my mind wandered to swimming and walks in the woods. I closed my eyes during painful procedures and imagined how good my body would feel moving through the natural world. I wanted nothing more than to fill my eyes with beauty.
As soon as I could I bought a camper and headed out on the road to do just that. It was everything I hoped for. I didn’t mind the bug bites or the questionable places I had to pee. I jumped into cold springs with my snorkeling gear and swam after turtles and fish, I biked into headwinds until my legs felt like jelly, I cooked my meals in the rain, and marveled at the sky full of stars. I felt big and small at the same time.
On my last day at St. Joseph’s Peninsula state park I took a swim before heading out. I found myself just a few feet from a pod of dolphins lazily going up and down the shore eating fish. It was thrilling, and terrifying. I steadied myself and let them swim around me, soaking in their slick skin and graceful motions.
They cared not one iota about me. I, on the other hand, cried while treading water. That was more beauty than I knew what to do with.