I took the long road that was taken leading down to Oxford England on a quest for divinity. There was no turning back knowing the adventure had already begun. The sweet smell of blossoms permeated in the air as I put one foot in front of the other. This place was foreign to me, but the way the flowers bordered the pathway reminded me of my childhood. Long stretches of landscape, made me feel weightless, immersed in the natural world. The sharp beams of sunshine stroked the dandruff particles on the tips of my hair. Now, I knew I was basked in divinity.
As a young person I almost never felt drawn to the outdoors. My family did not emphasize the importance of spending time in nature and, since we lived in the New York suburbs, stumbling upon natural spaces did not typically occur. There was one day though that sticks in my mind as one of the first times I ever had that feeling of belonging in nature. I was in sixth grade and wandered off the bus from school with two other kids that lived on my street. The bus stops at the corner of the busiest boulevard in our town and Marino Avenue, where we lived. We walked away from the bustle and car rumbles of Port Washington Boulevard, past each one of our homes, down the meandering slope of the street, and into the woods that had maintained their mystery over the course of my sheltered youth. Weaving in and out of the trees, over the concrete wall covered in graffiti, along the quiet stream, I felt safe in the arms of nature. This area was not majestic by the standards of a well-versed nature-seeker, but it made my heart feel full. We stomped around in the stream and dug up silky mud. As we squeezed mud through our fingers, I began to unlearn all the fright and uncomfortability and doubt I connoted with the woods.
As though made of copper the stalks of grass seem to glint in the form of puffy white stars, earth-bound and small as they appear overhead. Bands of sun light the stray field in Greenville, North Carolina, illuminating bits of fluff as they spray from their homes and fasten to the greying fur of my dog as he leaps gleefully past. This was a fitting spot for his final walk before being put down—twinkling, soft, cool, home.
My father’s backyard holds a broken-down pool that functions now as a small pond. Over the past decade, the pond has hosted a small, assorted fleet of turtles, every spring a mountain of freshly-hatched toads, and, in turn, a particularly hungry heron. Joining them have been two bullfrogs, one water moccasin, a growing school of minnows (a university, perhaps?), several stranded ducklings (and their worried parental unit, squawking above), and the particularly vicious snapping turtle with the misshapen shell that devoured them. etc.
I couldn’t find a photo:/https://drive.google.com/open?id=1tOfYOwqIaP61WYQDYV3YAhWrvOReZcjb&usp=sharing
It was late afternoon, and we were hiking back down the mountain after a full day of work. It began to rain, and as we walked we saw wisps of fog cover the hills through breaks in the trees. Everything was green and wet and misty and beautiful. I felt a sense of accomplishment and peace that I hadn’t for the past month as I had struggled to acclimate to my new environment. Our group had been chatting as we made our way down, but as the rain started we grew quiet, listening instead to the sounds of the forest on a rainy afternoon in the Smoky Mountains.
At the National Parks they tell you if you see a bear you should steer clear. I did not take heed of this advice. Much to my mothers dismay, I walked right underneath a tree where a bear was hanging out. In order to get a better glimpse of this beautiful animal, I walked in to the clearing and came within 30 feet of the bear who was high above me in the canopy. While my mom continued to yell at me to come back, I snapped a picture and then stood and admired the young bear before turning around to give it the space to descend from the trees and take off into the woods.
Photo by: Me
A particular experience in the natural world that was meaningful to me was the beautiful and breathtaking night skies of the winter. The sunsets and the different colors the sky illustrates a life-like painting.
One of my favorite memories in the natural world is swimming at DuPont State Forest near the waterfalls in the mountains of North Carolina. As a kid I would go to a camp in the mountains in the summer every year, and it was a tradition there to visit DuPont. While the water was always freezing, the hike and the scenery surrounding the falls was beautiful. Certain memories there aren’t so good, such as the time that I broke my leg, but I still remember DuPont as a place of natural beauty.
I don’t go out in nature much, but when I do, it’s pretty cool. My trips to Hanging Rock State Park are always memorable. The rock formations and the sky are unique and seem to change with each visit. i love nature <3
Photos by: Yours Truly
A summer morning on the Eno River. The water was freezing and the sunshine was barely beginning to feel warm. I waded in with bare feet and icy toes but reveled in the ripples tickling the tops of my feet.
On the opposite bank there is an elevated path. Every couple of minutes, a new person with a new dog wanders past, and they wave to me standing in the water with pursed lips and a stiff hand. The dog sniffs in my direction.
Soon I draw my feet out and hike back up the small, sandy path to level ground, where my hammock hangs low between two slender trees.