Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Nature-Deficient, Dystopia-Induced Funk


I got my first tick of the year yesterday.  It hadn’t yet pierced the skin or anything…was just crawling across my forehead into my now long hair, hanging on for dear life while I tried to fight the willies and deal with it in a calm and orderly fashion.  The ticks are out and about.  I take that to mean summertime!
I’ve been feeling a little nature deficient lately.  Between winter snows and buying and working on our new house I felt like we hadn’t really been out bird-watching or hiking or folfing in forever!  (Okay, it was more like a couple months, but it felt like forever.)  I was still getting outdoors (in the garden, on walks, bicycling, kite flying), but I was not getting out into the countryside--where I feel a sense of overcoming peace as the traffic noise and barking dogs fade and the air becomes sharp and clear.  That nature deficiency, when combined with reading a rapid succession of dystopian novels, resulted in my feeling a bit in a funk, a bit morose.  I was finding myself more irritable than usual at the seeming shallowness of the consumer society around me.  People literally throwing away piles of perfectly usable furniture, snacks for Final exam week being a mountainous, heaping bowl of individually wrapped cookies and a miniscule bowl of apples and bananas, people spending more facetime with their phones than with me, and cookbooks that call for so-called “ingredients” like onion soup mix were just rubbing me raw. 
Like a flash in suddenly came to me—the reason for the funk—and the solution.  I needed to get out into the trees.  To touch the river and watch the squirrels and the birds.   To smell the damp places where the mushrooms grow.   To listen to the quiet.  (That and to read some cheery, upbeat books for a while.)
I realized that the house will always need work.  The garden will always need work.  The tie-dye business will always need work.  Dinner always needs made.  Laundry will always need done.  There are always unfinished sewing and knitting projects.  There is always a to-do list.  But, I must make time for getting away from it all to surround myself with that which recharges me.  The trees, the birds, the river.  It isn’t an optional luxury.  It is a necessity to the happiness and well-being of my body and soul.
I could easily be swallowed up by projects and responsibilities and spend every minute working on some task or other, but I don’t want that.  I want the time to just sit in the cattails watching the male red wing black birds showing off to the ladies and puffing up with a menacing squawk at the other males that dare to come too close to his perch.    For me, that is every bit as as important as, say, having the dishes done or replacing the ugly wallpaper in the basement.
 
When I am recharged by the great outdoors I am better able to tackle all my projects anyways.  And when I am out walking the trails (whether they are five miles from town or 50) I am so happy and that happiness follows me throughout my day.  I think I am also stronger and wiser for having the experiences you can only have “out there.”  Thoughts bubble up and you have the time to explore them.  Both minor and major nature (and life) lessons present themselves in a variety of unexpected ways.  You can test yourself.  You can trust yourself.  You can find yourself.  You can lose yourself. 
It is worth a few eight-legged hitchhikers for all that.  (And to think that it mostly doesn’t cost a dime.)
Bird sightings:
Great blue heron (4 sighted, but several more heard calling)
Red wing black bird (countless)
Hairy woodpecker (1)
Northern flicker (3)
Mallard ducks (countless, including one pair mating which I'd never seen before)
Canada geese (countless)
Barn swallow (3)
Black-capped chickadees (countless)
House wren (2 sighted, but at least one more heard calling)
There was also a couple of distant hawks that escaped identification.

4 comments:

  1. Well worded. And my thoughts exactly.

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  2. GREAT! I'm so glad you took the time. Your sitings list is wonderful. I've been enjoying the return of the Mississippi Kites to our sky and their sweet "voices" to the air. Nature really is good for mind, body and soul.

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  3. I loved this post. I need a nature fix now and then too. And I don't just mean visual. I need to have my feet in nature and my hands on textures found in the outdoors.
    It amazes me when I encounter people who find nature humdrum.
    I went to my friend's house today to see the changes they are making before they move in. There is a creek running right next to their backyard. She appreciates the beauty, but isn't totally in awe of it. I remind myself that she currently lives on a ranch in the mountains, so she is used to awesome grandure. Can you imagine though, how amazing it would be to have a creek just a few yards from your house!

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  4. Being outdoors is very important to my well-being. Granted, these days my "outdoorsyness" is mostly limited to sitting in one of my swings or on one of my benches and soaking up the green. However, stillness and watchfulness helps me see the world of nature in my own yard. The hens are lessons in life, right before my eyes. Okay, sometimes they are behind me or under the swing. But, their rhythmic scratching and outbursts when a bug is spotted connect me with the natural world.

    I really don't think we were born to look at carpet and sheet rock.

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Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!