To the Woods
I take to the woods at least once a week. The woods may be a misnomer, though, for I find myself on prairies, forest edges, shorelines, ranch land, and a host of differing habitats. It is nature I seek, a wildness that soothes the crassness of the hustle-bustle of civilization. I realize the gregarious nature of humankind and do not advocate against our tendency to congregate in cities. Yet, I find the poetry of nature to be restorative. I find happiness in holding a pair of binoculars in my hand while searching for that Summer Tanager, Northern Oriole or Bewick Wren. It is often that I note the weather conditions of the day. I take note of the wildflowers blooming that day or note the disturbance of the soil made by rooting armadillos or revel in the moment of sighting a small herd of deer browsing in the field.
Aldo Leopold even acknowledges this fact in his great lamentation Conservation Esthetic. “It is, by common consent, a good thing for people to get back to nature.” To that purpose, I add my voice, both realizing the pitfall and benefit of such. As more of us seek the wilderness the less abundant it could become. Therefore, as a community, we must seek to expand greenspaces within our cities and, beyond the city limits, seek to preserve naturalness as we seek to increase access to it. Our forays to the woods would help us understand the complexities of nature and edify us as not only members of a community but of an ecology, that we might know we are webbed in nature. Thus, when we seek to build our community, we would understand that there are consequences to our actions. We would understand there is more than just economic consideration to be rendered. In fact, this is Leopold’s constructive response in The Land Ethic. “Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
In my youth, I wandered to piedmont of the Eastern Seaboard. I spent time in apple and peach orchards. It was a time of adventure and joy when we took trips to these places as well as to the great city parks of the area. This joy exists deep within me and expresses itself time and again in my adulthood here in Central Texas. I go to the woods. It is pleasurable to share it with others, to experience it with companions. Hopefully, mankind will learn to treat nature as a cathedral, to live with reverence for it, to become again part of it. Wisdom beckons that we perceive ourselves not as conquerors of nature, and not just stewards of nature either. Wisdom beseeches us to be in harmony.
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