Nature Awareness

VII. Nature Awareness

This is problematic.  Once upon at time I owned half an acre that I kept mostly wildish, with 18 very old fir trees, wild Trillium, blackberry bushes, with squirrels and possums year round and Canadian Geese visiting twice a year, a blend of my family and nature right in our home space.  My children grew up.  I got divorced.  I am now in an apartment and single.  I do not have my natural wildlife constantly around me.

I have gone in search of parks.  There are quite a few here in our city with lots of long natural walking paths.  The closest one to me has a bad reputation and history of very bad things happening there to small women such as myself.   My daughters tell me that not a single one of our parks is really a good idea to be walking alone in while communing with nature, especially if you are a little 5’ 2” female of a 115 pounds.

I know what this assignment is getting at though; I grew up feeling nature in my veins before I realized I was a hippy born a decade too late.  I grew up in Los Angeles, but the child of avid campers.  My parents took us almost every weekend during camping season out of the city to camp when my grandparents weren’t taking us up for the month long camping trips to live on the shore of Lake Isabella during the summer.  In between those camping trips I lived on my surf board on Redondo Beach, watching the sun set, breathing in the salt air. Peace.  It still beats within me, the throb of the Earth, heartbeat of the Mother as those waves crashed upon the shores I spent my youth upon.

The thing that spoke to me most, still does to this day, is the Sun, how it powers the Earth.  It’s as though feeling that warmth is the breath of the Spirit that swaddles me.  It’s hard to describe in words, but I’ll try.  All of my life, from the farthest memories back, I can remember pausing in an untrained meditation, almost in trances when bathing in sunlight.  With instinct I would close my eyes, slowing my breath; I would feel the life around me.  From being a toddler in the yard, to a child in a field, to a teen on a beach with a surfboard, something about the rays of the Sun have always called to me.  It is something in paganism that was hard for me to reconcile, so much attention to the moon, when I was a child of the Sun.  One particular moment, involved a family camping trip to King’s Canyon.  My grandmother took me for a walk through the woods.  I hadn’t even realized that she’d continued walking when a puddle of Sun shining through the trees had mesmerized me yet again.  I was about 6 years old.  I stood there, as always, suddenly eyes closed, feeling the golden light bathing me, warming, humming and filling me.  Suddenly my grandmother’s hushed voice, “Doodle, don’t move.”  Grandma wasn’t scared, it was a hushed warning, but one filled with awe in her voice.  Slowly I opened my eyes, seeing the light filtering through the trees around me, and then I felt it, a tickle in my hair.  Slowly I turned and came face to face with a doe.  She looked at me with her huge dark eyes, wiggled her wet nose, a few strands of my pale hair stuck to it.  She dipped her head and nuzzled into my neck again, then scampered off.  I was so full of joy I felt as though my whole being was vibrating.

Back to my little apartment…I am lucky in that the back yard area of this apartment is almost semi-private and safe, and so far at present, I have felt the most nature just sitting on my own little porch facing the 9 foot rhododendrons across the patch of grass and the towering fir trees lining the area.  One extremely large and full fir tree has become the castle to many of my spider friends.  I also have a squirrel friend by the way, that visits me each morning through the window of my back door.  He skitters right up to it and looks in on me through the glass.  My cats haven’t decided what to do with a squirrel so brash so they just stare back sort of dumbfounded.

But what of nature in a larger scope here?  We are blessed in the Pacific Northwest with a great blanket of the Great Mother.  The rainforest of Gifford Pinchot forest is less than half an hour away to the east. The Pacific Ocean is an hour and a half to the west of me.  My city is nestled between Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helen’s volcano.  The streams that feed the Willamette and the Columbia rivers are many.  I have a great fondness for Copper Creek.  I have also recently discovered to my dumbfounded awe that Lacamas Lake is only but 10 miles from my apartment, a mere 15 minutes away.  A LAKE! I had no idea it was so close!  I expect to be doing a lot of exploring there and soaking up tranquility with a Nature-Buddy soon.

There are two paths of health to our Nature.  Spiritual health is what I enjoy while soaking up the vibrations and peacefulness of nature at its more wild states in places like the beach or the forest.  What of the physical health?  Toxins poisoning the earth, poisoning us physically, rampant use of the world’s resources stripping away as we consume faster than the Earth can reproduce is physically unhealthy.

There is an awakening going on by even those who are not following a pagan path.  Reusable cloth grocery bags have become very chic.  I’ve purchased and use them myself, mine having the hippy-ish logo of a guitar upright-turned tree, the top of the guitar neck sprouting tree leaves and the body of the guitar bearing a peace sign.

With the environment in mind, I ran a week long experiment, just how much garbage do I really produce and what is the proportion of what can be recycled?  I found after a week I had one kitchen sized garbage can full of cans/glass/plastic, one can ¾ full of mixed paper/cardboard, and the third receptacle only contained a mere quart of non recyclable material.

Now climbing over three receptacles in my small kitchen, along with the smell of those rinsed out cat-food cans wasn’t going to be a full time solution.  I went looking to continue this project with receptacles I could live with on a permanent basis.  I struck personal gold at Target.com (the receptacle is not found in the actual stores, only online) and it is also found at Amazon.com.  Space is always limited in an apartment.  This wonderful can is divided into three partitions, each with its own foot-pedal/lid that closes tightly to keep in the aromas.  I can separate my garbage, cans/glass/plastic, and mixed paper all in this one compact and efficient receptacle.  The added bonus was that in rearranging my dining area to make room for it, I found to my delight that having the dining table turned this way gave me a view out to my favorite nature spot, gazing out to my peaceful back yard, to my rhododendrons and of my spider castle, that great fir tree.

The Pacific Northwest is the back yard of my community, and I very much love living here.  My own private apartment backyard, it serves as my own private and peaceful space of tranquility.  Keeping the Earth Mother and Her Body clean and healthy, keeping our use of Her resources in check keeps Her healthy and in turn, keeps us, Her children healthy, physically healthy for those who live here, and spiritually healthy for those who listen to Her Voice.

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~ by Spider Lily on August 29, 2010.

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