Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...

Saint Edward State Park- Lainey Piland photo
The writer John Burroughs once said that he visited nature to be soothed and healed and to have his senses put in order.  In light of recent sad events in the news, today I found myself reflecting on the very aspects of nature which provide such healing and hope for downcast souls.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
...and to that I say: Amen.  Nature has repeating rhythms and a capacity for renewal that are astonishing and comforting, and have the ability to put our own worries and struggles into perspective.  The natural world around us is a great visual reminder that in the grand scheme of things, there are no insults, setbacks, or difficulties from which we cannot recover.

Last weekend, my husband and I went hiking at Saint Edward State Park, which is one of my absolute favorite places to visit. Comprised of more than 300 acres of mostly-wooded property, this park is a study in nature's capacity for renewal.  Those who visit the park and are unaware of its history would likely be surprised to learn that the forest was clear-cut in the early 20th century.  This is shocking because presently the park boasts a lush and diverse second-growth forest and massive trees that look as though they've stood for centuries.

Here are a few photos taken on a recent hike at Saint Edward which speak to nature's ability to renew itself.  I gave these photos the snazzy name of "Hemlocks Growing from Cedar Stumps" (although perhaps "Alien Tree Takeover" would also be appropriate, and a bit more colorful...):

The once-towering cedar trees along the trail may have been reduced to crumbling stumps, but still life goes on as hemlocks take root and grow. It is amazing to hike through the forest at Saint Edwards and consider that even after experiencing the grievous insult of being clear-cut, enough substance remained on the devastated landscape to support an entire new, flourishing forest that stands triumphant today.

Whether it is the rising and setting of the sun each day or the regrowth of a once clear-cut forest, nature's rhythms and continual renewal are indeed healing and soothing, if we learn to seek them out.

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