This I Believe

Roxanne - South Burlington, Vermont
Entered on September 26, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: purpose

Nature’s Call

I was born in Tiburon, California. My mother tells me that as a young child I could see out the long windows of my nursery to the graceful contours of Mount Tamalpais and the shimmering waters of San Francisco Bay. These were my first images of nature: mountains and water. Images that undoubtedly imprinted upon my soul.

When I was three we moved east. Growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I often viewed wild nature from the margins. Driving with my family in our big, beige Oldsmobile, forest patches appeared as leftovers in between developments, as islands in between roadways, as places in the shadow of human purpose. I sat and stared as forests and fields and rivers flew by as fast-motion scenery.

In time, however, I uncovered an intimacy with nature.

In our backyard, I sat under maple and oak trees gazing up at the sky through sunlit patterns of emerald leaves. In autumn, my sister and I immersed ourselves in fragrant, crunchy piles of leaves, tossing them into the air like confetti. In nature, my imagination and soul ran free.

Every summer, we vacationed in Delaware along the Atlantic Ocean. Walking the beach, I felt the forceful push of waves and wind, the heat of sand and sun. Sand crabs, brought in by the surf’s endless ritual, scurried to escape across my wet skin. I watched the slow, ancient movement of horseshoe crabs and the fleet-footed sprints of sanderlings.

As I grew older, and began bearing witness to the disappearance of our favorite horse farms and fields, I heard a deep, almost unconscious, call to protect nature. Eventually, I studied conservation biology and took a job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Over the years, however, I began to wonder if by honing my intellectual capacity, I lost some innate sensibility. Living and working everyday in the city, my body had forgotten what called me to act on nature’s behalf. And so I began a kind of deep remembering.

I have come to believe in the wisdom of body and soul, as well as mind. I believe in the importance of nurturing our innate sense of wonder for nature. Especially our children’s.

I now have a husband and two daughters. Three years ago, we moved to Vermont from the intensely developed city of Arlington, Virginia. The Champlain Valley’s landscape of mountains and water, so like my California birthplace, calls me home.

Inspired to save the beauty all around me, I joined the board of our local land trust and started a monthly nature column in our local paper. We walk our girls to a small school surrounded by fields and wetlands and ponds, the curve of the Green Mountains in the distance.

I believe in bonding my family to place. I believe in heeding the call to intimacy by building community with the natural world and each other.