The Ecology, Part 1
I’m an outdoor girl, always have been. My parents weren’t the most hardcore environmentalists – we didn’t sleep in tents – but they got me outside; walking, hiking, skiing, swimming or just sitting in the grass and hanging out. In every season, in the city and the country and in our own backyard, we found green places, rocky places and sandy places to spend our time; and we “carried out what we carried in” before the phrase was coined. And I brought that love of nature into my adulthood, managing not just to carve out a career in the outdoors, but to embark on so many remarkable experiences – on water and mountains, at parks and beaches, in forest and desert – experiences who’s feel and taste are etched into my memory.
I have also managed to surround myself with others who not only share this love, but couple it with a passionate knowledge that has allowed this very unscientific girl to glean a deeper understanding of the natural world in which we live. My friends Tara, Ally, Chris, Sean, Brian and Maija (among others) all combine the creative with the scientific in unique and inspiring ways. They maintain a joyous awe of the natural world, but can distill the information into a shape and form that speaks to everyone and leaves young and old just a little smarter than when they started – sometimes without even realizing it. I consider them to be among the ranks of more well-known figures of whom you may have heard: like Rachel Carson, who’s “Silent Spring” audiobook was my companion while driving cross-country – her chapter on soil is still one of the most intriguing and beautiful pieces of prose I’ve ever seen; and E.O. Wilson, who said, ” Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”; and indie-pop stalwarts They Might Be Giants, who were not only clever enough to write us a song about The Sun, but were respectful and creative enough to write a follow up when they found out they were wrong.
Today we simply took the dog for a walk at the local creek, but the day and the smell was pure autumn, a true delight. And I like to think that my friends would be proud that I was cognizant of the fact that detritus – the organic matter left over from the decaying of the leaves falling from those gorgeous autumn trees – was the reason for that rich and timeless scent in the air. There will be more blog posts forthcoming on this cherished subject, and I believe that it is this attitude towards nature that allows us to find the extraordinary moments in our ordinary routine amidst the urban and suburban landscape.
Without beating a drum, my parents and my friends planted a seed, fed it with care and taught me respect and understanding for our outdoor spaces that has grown into something much more profound. I hope that I may pass this on to my daughter as seamlessly as they have done for me.
As Mr. Wilson states, it may be the closest thing to religious spirituality that I know.