I was looking out my window a few months ago outside my home looking at the snow falling down. At my place, there are many trees and open fields. I recall snow falling from the branches and seeing frozen cycles stuck to my window. The experience was meaningful because it was the first snow since the warm past months. It reminded me how we are never stuck in one sense of scenery; nature changes with the weather and time. It gives me the perspective that nothing will stay the same.
Gentle droplets of rain sprinkle down amidst the forest floor. Overhead, the cacophonous sounds of blue-capped mot mots and bell-birds seemingly direct the very gospel of the place. I remain crouched in the under-story, counting every breath and remaining as still as possible. The only way to be effective is to be cautious. Suddenly a spark of blue erupts before my eyes, springing into the comfort of an open leaf. I watch the small poison dart frog shuffle slightly before settling into the greenery. I begin to lean forward on my feet, pivoting slightly as I outstretch my hands. With the speed of a spring box, I leap forward and snatch at the frog. She tries to leap out as my fingers close around her slender body, but to no avail. Grasping her leg ever so slightly, I carefully turn her over and stroke the back of her head. In the forests of Bocas del Toro, Panama, frog and human share an intimate and personal bond, one that almost superceeds time and space.
August 2018; it was a week or two before the Fall Semester was going to begin. My family took the closing opportunity to venture away from my rural nesting grounds of Colfax, North Carolina, for a more mountainous scene; Burnsville, North Carolina.
Burnsville is a small but tight-knit town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. My mom has ties to the town, which stem back generations. My sister and I grew up among the giant towers of green, soaking in the fresh air and sunlight like one of the local plants. What struck me the most upon my arrival last Summer was how different the air felt from my normal stomping grounds around the Greensboro area. The air buzzed with the richness of oxygen. It felt cleaner; felt because I believe you can experience air beyond smell.
During my family’s return to Burnsville, we decided to brave the frigid waters of the Toe River. Although it was summer, the water felt like January. My sister and I could only submerge once or twice, while our dad channeled the likeness of a breaching whale and frolicked magestically throughout the icy waters.
While it took me around two hours to regain normal body temperature, I felt closer to nature than I had all summer, and it was a wonderful treat to return to my old stomping grounds with my family and remember what has always sparked my love for the mountains.
In 2015, I went backpacking through the Himalayas on a three month excursion with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). This included a two week home stay in the remote village of Sarmoli deep in the Himalayan mountain range, and two week white water rafting down the Kali Ganga which is the river separating India and Nepal.
When I went to Ithaca New York to visit Ithaca College over the summer of 2015, my family and I went to visit the famous Buttermilk Falls. It is a beautiful hiking spot. Along the trails are various waterfalls that you can swim and play in. When you enter the trails it feels less manufactured and more natural. You are surrounded by trees and the sound of rushing water.
This is the large pool that is usually full all the way up to the stairs.
This is another view of the same spot above. There is a hiking trail on the right of the waterfall.
And so the long journey of self-discovery in the natural world begins here, inside a classroom ironically. But I’ve always been more of an indoor kind of guy. I got proper exercise and Vitamin D mind you, but I’d usually read comics instead of climbing trees. But I do remember there was and still is always one place in our great big natural world that’s quite special to me: the quiet and beautiful South Beach, in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
It was always peaceful as waves washed against the sand as the seagulls dive-bombed the water, almost like a carnival act. And so, as one could imagine, I’ve always been more of a tropical guy when it comes to nature. Give me palm trees, sandy beaches and coconuts any day of the week.
Which is why I believe that this journey will be quite essential to broadening my own horizons. Nature comes in many forms. Getting out of your comfort zone and thrusting yourself into the unknown is ideal to becoming a more well rounded human being. And for me, if all goes well, a better writer.
A paragraph here.
An image here.
Now a Google Map – this one has a specific place chosen:
Another Google Map, this time with no place marker chosen:
And one last map, a Google My Map, this time with annotations/ a custom map marker: