I love walking around in nature– out in the open or in gardens– breathing fresh air. Well, I mean I love it when there are no mosquitoes, and when it’s not too hot, too humid, or too cold! Under those circumstances, I still love viewing beautiful scenery through a window or from behind a mosquito screen, or barring that, vicariously through poetry, prose, photography, or art.
It would be easy to leave it at that, but then I feel compelled to try to evoke for others the images, sounds, smells, and emotions that nature triggers for me, and I’m always in danger of sounding like a mushy 19th-century Romantic!
Why? The truth is, I grew up in the wrong century. As I mentioned in a previous post, my parents in mid-life, smack-dab in the middle of the machine-cold modernist 1900s, “had bought a small farm, and took us city kids into a new world full of big sky, clover fields to run across, cedar woods, river flats, a shallow river to stick your feet in on a hot day, a huge garden to help plant, water, weed, harvest…” Here, they cultivated memories of good old days in their idyllic country of origin (always referred to as “at home”). And they loved poetry. Inadvertently, they grafted considerable old-fashioned Romanticist leanings into my heart.
Then, beyond our own idyllic farm, my nemesis was the last section of my 2-mile walk home from school. It was a solitary gravel road down a steep hill through the woods, then across one of those historic iron bridges with a wooden floor. The scene was irresistible. I often stood there for an extra half hour, mesmerized by the sunlight sparkling on the gentle waves of the wide, shallow river winding through the valley between farms. How could I not make up poems and stories about nature? There you have it: nature showed off its beauty everywhere, and it was hopeless to resist!Writing poetry or prose about nature or anything else faded somewhat during my grown-up decades filled with jobs, family, moves, and distractions of all kinds. The World of Writing/Art kept spinning on its axis, orbited by Modernism, Postmodernism, Deconstruction, New Formalism, and myriad other esoteric
” -isms,” completely unhampered by any of my personal attempts at writing. I will be forever grateful to caring, helpful mentors along the way.
Ironically, it’s in retirement in the 21st century that I feel free to indulge in my Romantic sensibilities again! (I guess I was born in the right century after all!).
During my cancer treatments, being outdoors and enjoying nature became a therapeutic necessity to supplement medical treatments. In the Expressive Arts Therapy classes for cancer patients, we wrote, painted, drew, puttered with various art materials, danced, sang, recited, with no striving for artistic merit. It was all simply to connect with our emotions, helping us to work through debilitating, negative thoughts and feelings, and promoting healthy, healing ones. (I think people should do this often, just for fun and health!) Our instructor used pictures, music, spoken words, and tactile exercises to get us started. It’s significant to note that it was the scenes and sounds of nature that most often triggered feelings of relaxation, peace, joy, strength, and hope.
Let’s face it, it’s very hard work to write, paint, or create whatever, when you intend to share the result with others! But the mere possibility that a poem, a phrase, a picture might give someone out there a fresh look at the beauty that is all around us in God’s creation, a lift in their daily routine, a smile on their face, maybe even joy, now that would be worth it all!