Letting Nature Speak If you were walking in the woods and suddenly a tree started speaking to you, most likely you would either faint or start running the opposite direction. It would be pretty scary, to say the least. But nature does speak to everyone in a sense; we are just so busy with life that we do not take the time to listen. There is so much in nature that we can learn from and apply to our lives, but so often we only look at it for its face value and do not see the deeper benefits.
Speaking of nature, as I stand outside on the back porch, the sun is shining and the birds are singing, the smell of freshly cut grass fills the air and the mild breeze feels so refreshing on my skin. In the background I can hear the faint sound of traffic on the highway, cars busily heading to their destinations. It has been breezy for a couple of days now, but the sun is shining and the clouds are moving. As the day progresses, the wind speed increases and the temperature steadily decreases making a visit to the porch a little less comfortable than it was this morning.
The humidity level has steadily increased as well, making my clothing sticky and somewhat annoying, also causing my paper to become limp and not as easily manageable. The clouds seemed to be huddling together as if forming a mob, moving in slowing overhead creating a blanket between the sun and me. My pleasant sunshine has been taken away from me now and I am left with a gray blanket of cloud cover to observe, I am picking out different shapes and possible figures within them. As the clouds continue moving by, more ominous clouds replace their predecessors, making the world around me darker and darker.
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The temperature is cool and the breeze is stronger than it was earlier. I hear thunder rumbling in the distance, a normal precursor to a storm. The thunder seems like a would be stalker approaching from the darkness, only his footsteps are so loud it shakes the earth and rattles the windows, demanding its presence be known. Lightning flickers like a streetlamp attempting to turn on, but continually failing. One drop of rain lands on my cheek, another on my arm. As the rain increases in quantity, I head inside and continue watching from my window.
Slowly the rain changes from a lawn sprinkler type shower to more like someone turning on a high-pressure water hose as if they were trying to douse a fire. I am now confined to my home, as if there is an army outside keeping me contained unless I want to endure their unrelenting siege. The troubles in life are much like a storm; there are always signs of it brewing but so often we are caught up in the beauty of the moment that we do not see the thunderheads rolling in behind us until it is too late.
We are then caught off guard without an umbrella in the pouring rain. The rain soaking our clothes and in turn our body, is like the stress that comes with trouble forcing us to try and find shelter or something to protect us. When caught in a storm, we rarely see the beauty of it because we are focused on the damage it is causing. After a storm the grass is greener, the air smells so fresh, the sidewalks are washed clean, and there is a sense of calm and reassurance that we have made it through. The sun raises its head and always gives us a rainbow after the storm.
There is a lot more to the sun then rainbows and illuminating the world as Ralph Emerson states in “Nature,” “Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child” (563). This is so true; often nature is only seen for its face value. Sunrise is a particularly beautiful, natural event to experience, and all to often we do not take the time to enjoy the wonderful events that unfold during a sunrise.
As the sun is approaching the horizon, I hear birds singing and nocturnal animals scurrying back to their dens to sleep the day away. The birds seem to be calling to one another as if they are old men sitting at the local cafe, drinking coffee and discussing the day’s to-do list. The sky is no longer black but a deep ocean blue, like someone has turned on a light in another room, and the light is reflecting throughout the house. I hear the leaves rustle in the wind, and the trees sway as if they are stretching after a deep sleep.
Slowly, things in the distance become recognizable and I can distinguish more shapes and figures. The sky becomes brighter and brighter, changing from a deep blue to a brighter shade as the sun moves closer to the horizon. Faster and faster light is filling the sky and illuminating the world around me. It is almost like opening my eyes when I awaken and taking in all the colors and objects around me. Suddenly the sun shows its bright and shining face, peeking over the horizon as if to say good morning to me.
It rises slowly, becoming more and more visible, until its entirety is now shining down on me, demanding to be seen, demanding my attention. I feel the warmth on my skin, like a blanket pulled up over me. The sunrise is so beautiful but when the sun comes up all the way it doesn’t always seem as wonderful, especially if there is a lot of it. This last summer we experienced an enormous amount of the sun and the heat that comes with it and the effects seemed all negative. It caused droughts, crops to wilt, electric bills were high in the effort for the air conditioning to keep up with the heat and the list could go on.
But there were some benefits to the high heat and drought. I was able to spend plenty of time inside my home this summer and I was able to downsize a lot of my belongings. My home stayed very clean all summer long because I did not want to be out in the heat and I took advantage of the time inside. I was able to catch up on my movie watching and shows that I was missing out on. I have to admit, I did miss taking my children to the park, but I was able to spend quality time with them when we were cooped up inside.
Another advantage to the drought and high heat is the crime rate was lower this summer; criminals do not like the heat just like everyone else. But what is a thunderstorm or a drought in comparison to something as devastating and tragic as a natural disaster that kills thousands and leaves even more without a home. Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans leaving in its wake, destruction and death. Causing many to wonder how could anything good come out of such devastation. At first there did not seem to be anything positive.
Then as the clouds lifted and the water receded, people started to pull together and found in the midst of tragedy, a sense of community. Barely two months after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans’ art community pulled together and reopened the doors of the Ogden Museum with an incredible turn out on opening night (Krantz). Before Katrina, the turnout stayed about 100, but over 600 citizens crammed the affair, an enormous result (Krantz). Nature has its own lessons, whether teaching us to be prepared or to look deeper and find the treasure beneath the rubble.
Wearing its many different faces, nature will always put us to the test. Whether enjoying the beauty of a sunrise or the thrill of a thunderstorm rolling in, there is always something to walk away with; the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Works Cited Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Nature. ” Sound Ideas. Ed. Michael Krasney and M. E. Sokolik. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 562-564. Print. Krantz, Susan E. “When Tragedy Inspires Recovery: Visual Arts In Post-Katrina New Orleans. ” Phi Kappa Phi Forum 90. 2 (2010): 8-11. Academic Search Premier. Web. Oct. 25, 2012.
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