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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Loving Nature

"The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fibre and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing." -- John Muir

I love nature. It truly is a part of who I am. I feel the most relaxed, and the most alive, when I am by myself in a beautiful natural setting.

I love the trees, the mountains, the water, the windflowers, the wildlife and the beautiful sky. Just being outdoors is in itself a wonderful experience. But being outside in nature is what I really love. I enjoy hiking and outdoor photography, and sometimes just sitting outside listening to the quiet. On rare occasions when it's not too hot or too cold outside, I really enjoy sleeping with my bedroom window open. I can hear crickets chirping, dogs barking in the distance, and if I'm really lucky, coyotes howling nearby.

I am fortunate to live in a part of town where each house sits on a 1/2-acre lot, offering quiet and privacy. I have wonderful views of the Sandia Mountains, and a mere 2 miles away is the Rio Grande bosque, a wooded area along the banks of the river. Also nearby are dirt levees that are perfect for walking, running and horseback riding. During my morning walk today, I heard a horse snorting, chickens cackling and a rooster crowing. As I drove to the store this morning, a very large coyote dashed across the road in front of me. This is a wonderful, quiet place to get out and enjoy nature.

It is so delightful to sit in a quiet spot outside, hearing nothing but the blowing breeze and the occasional twittering of birds. Even here in the New Mexico high desert, mornings tend to be cool and very pleasant, an ideal time to go for a walk. Sometimes I will grab my morning cup of tea and the newspaper and head outside. My dogs enjoy snooping around the yard while I read the paper and drink my tea. Some mornings I'm treated to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains.

I really enjoy the sights, the sounds and the smells of nature. The aroma of pine trees, the smell of the damp earth after a rain, the wonderful aroma of dead leaves on the ground during the fall -- no human-made scents can compare. And the colors of Nature's palette are endless. Even the most talented of artists cannot come close to creating the beauty of the natural world.

There is a great dichotomy in nature. On the one hand, it can be very calming and relaxing, while on the other, being out in nature often requires us to heighten our senses.  We need to be aware of our surroundings for our own safety. Nature also presents a juxtaposition of beauty and danger, of healing plants and deadly animals, of mighty predators and furry bunnies. Nature is a powerful force, yet fragile. Nature offers us gentle streams and rivers, as well as roaring rapids and waterfalls. It can harm or kill us in a variety of ways, a powerfully magnificent landscape of roaring rivers and towering mountains, yet human actions can cause it great damage and threaten the very existence of certain ecosystems, species and areas.

As a follower of a variety of national parks and wilderness organizations on Facebook, I often find myself gasping at the beauty of some of the images I see. In rare instances, my eyes tear up at the sheer beauty of these places. And my heart often aches when I see the damage and destruction humans have wrought upon the land and the species attempting to coexist with us.

We have but one planet to call home. It would behoove all of us to pay more attention to it, to protect it, to care about the land, the water and the other life that shares the planet with us.