Wednesday, August 27, 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...

Golden Afternoon - Captured this photo on a recent hike at Saint Edward State Park - rounded a bend in the trail and was stopped in my tracks at the sight.  Lainey Piland photo

When I read books, I write in them.  I underline interesting passages, make comments in the margins, and fold over the corners of pages to mark a particular place I may want to revisit in the future. A habit left over from my college days, these resulting little notes left to my future self are available in the event I return to the book looking for inspiration or for some forgotten, obscure piece of information that I just know lies within the pages of this book.

A few days ago, I began to re-read Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and came across a passage I had underlined during my first journey through the book.  This passage was as profound and inspiring the second time around:
"There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand... It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.  It is that simple. What you see is what you get." -Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)
Isn't it amazing, and perhaps humbling, to consider the number of "free surprises" we pass by every day in our lives which are so fatigued with overstimulation and malnourished of wonder? How would we be changed were we to set aside our inhibitions and allow ourselves to be filled with amazement, joy, and gratitude when encountering surprises as seemingly trivial as a penny on the sidewalk?

In no other forum would it be easier to apply this mindset than to our interactions with the natural world (which happens to be the context Annie Dillard is speaking of ).  When was the last time you watched a spider weave its web and marveled at its intricate work?  Have you ever been stopped in your tracks and left breathless by the sight of late-afternoon sunlight glowing golden through tree branches? Has a flower ever made you smile? The antics of cavorting birds made you laugh?  Just think how much happier, observant, and connected with our surroundings we would be if we took the time to notice, appreciate, and delight in such sights. Our world would be so much richer.

At Saint Edward State Park again.  This duck walked right over to me and stared me down for a few moments. 


  1. Agreed!!! However, I do not stop in wonder - at least not in a good way - at slugs. No, when I see slugs I cringe - and oftentimes gag if I let my mind go there. Thanks for reminding us to really see all that is around us. Even a city sidewalk can offer a feast for the eyes

    1. I agree with you on the slugs! Most times I run away from them shuddering in disgust, so I'd have to work pretty hard to find anything lovely about them. I suppose that not ALL of the "free surprises" around us are pleasant ones!