The poetic nature

2014-01-03 12.48.16Rachel Carlson loved nature. You can feel that love in her poetic description of nature, “In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pine.” and  “foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed fields, half hidden in the mists of fall mornings.” The idyllic town and the picture of harmony beckon you to visit.

I have never been a nature person. Growing up in a city block, I only saw a single tree in my neighborhood. The description of plants and various animals in children’s books seemed so far away. Since age 7, the tender age of starting grade 1 in China, I have been absorbed in book reading, exams and competitions. That’s the school life I had, and the only life I knew. Occasionally I visited the city park, and was awed by so many trees and grasses. But that seem a remote world, existing outside my normal realm of life.

After arriving in the United States, I felt like being in the park of my childhood. Everywhere you see are trees and grasses. Squirrels roam around and birds are flying in the sky. Nature surrounds me with its generous greens. However, I was still absorbed with classes, school exams, and making new friends. There is little time to slow down, and smell the fragrance of nature.

It was only until recently, after I started taking daily picture for the social app WeChat, I realize the amazing variety in nature. I saw high-rise pine trees touching the sky, birch trees stripped bare in this winter season, maple trees with reddish leaves hanging on the branch, and bright yellow daisies shine under the sun. It was the first time that I start to open my eyes to the nature, and feel connected to trees and plants. I notice their silent embrace of the sun, the earth and the space. I admire their tenacity of living long and holding on, even though they can be cut down and destroyed by humans at any moment. I started to wonder if there is soul in the living trees.

I have always believed that there is a soul in every animal. Since very young, I was a friend of hens and chicks raised by my grandma. I was eager to catch an egg after a hen laid one. I moaned at their fate of being butchered. I had my pet hen, a pure white gentle hen who I loved dearly. Today I have my cat, who follows me, nudges me, and begs for my massage, and whose joy and sorrow are so transparent. How can he not have a soul?

The concrete-made buildings and streets have alienated us from the nature. The city dwellings, with its many social activities and human interaction, absorbed our attention. There is no time to gaze at the star, or listen to the chirp of insects in the evening. Living in the air-conditioned rooms, we lose touch with the breeze that is supposed to come in. We are comfortable, protected from nature’s heat, rain, coldness, and storms. We are void of insect bites, animal infestation, and other things plaguing our ancestors. But we also lose the joy of that affinity with nature, where you can smell the earth, hearing the flying buzz of insects and seeing the flickering dragonfly. In that living, we are part of nature and we are at home. With deep longing, we look at nature today as if an estranged cousin. We can visit, but we still live in a totally different world.

Let us come outside. Let us smell the flower, the grass and touch the trees. There is poem, and magic in this world where our ancestors lived.

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1 Comment

  1. gopal

     /  September 12, 2014

    Interesting post. I share the belief that animals have souls too.


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