This is what peace with nature is to me…
Nature is the world around us, except for human-made phenomena. As humans are the only animal species that consciously, powerfully manipulates the environment, we think of ourselves as exalted, as special. We acknowledge that in an objective view we are merely one of many organisms, and that we are not able to survive outside of our natural world of air, earth, water and life.But we tend to be poor leaders in the “hierarchy” of animal life. Despite our greatness, too often we waste, we fight, we breed heedlessly, and are too self-centered and short-sighted. I take note of the increasing awareness of ecology, at least in Western culture, and am heartened. We may still change our weapons of war into tools of peace, and our habits of despoilation into nuturing.
Earth is so large, that even if humans destroy ourselves, plus most other life forms, there will still be nature. The soil, oceans, atmosphere and weather would still interact with solar power to allow some life to exist. Earth cannot be a barren place like the moon. Humans can, then, reduce our planetary paradise into a hell of sorts, but cannot, I believe, destroy the planet itself.
This thought, sober and gloomy, is a modern one; in earlier ages it is unlikely that people contemplated ourselves wiping-out most life on earth. I don’t know why I brought it to the forefront of my nature essay. It does offer a perspective.
Nature’s life forces, as well as its winds, eruptions, quakes, avalanches, freezes, etc., is immensely powerful. I recall being allowed to study revegetation on the freshly-erupted Mt. St. Helens. It was more than 10 years ago, so my memory has retained only a few observations: life was strongest near water sources, and the weediest plants were most successful in revegetating the barren gray ash. Mosses tolerant of Seattle’s freeway cracks grew on the loose sand and ash. Fireweed, which thrives after forest fires, clear-cuts and bombed sites, was abundant. If memory serves, scientists in general expressed pleased surprise at the rapidity of revegetation.
Even in this age of high-technology, where many people who live in cities and work full-time with computers see but little nature intimately — at least we all are still aware of the weather and the seasons. We all know that a short, rainy winter day is less pleasant than a warm sunny June day. Most of us are cheered at the return of spring, and we mostly have certain pleasant or striking memories we associate with each season.
Very beautiful. Thank you.
“‘Is the spring coming?’ he said. ‘What is it like?’ …
‘It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the earth.’”
—Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
—Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
This is peace with nature.
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