For several years I have been the author of a garden column that appears in three local community papers, in the Mt. Shasta area of Northern California.
I always end my column by saying: “remember, time spent with nature, in the garden or by a creek, makes the world look brighter and helps you feel lighter,” and THIS is what I believe.
Quite by accident, some 11 or so years ago, Nature reached out and reclaimed me, realigning my priorities, putting life in perspective and healing my jangled nerves.
I had known her before, first as a young child who could hardly wait to get outside in the morning to wade through dew dappled grass, spy on bugs and graze on sour grass; and again, in my twenties, as I rediscovered the natural world through back packing and gardening.
I clearly recall the day, this time in my late thirties, when Nature called out to me once again.
My husband, Michael, and I had, for five sparse years, been struggling to revive a derelict commercial district. We, after refurbishing an historic building, opened the Brown Trout Gallery, a retail venture.
Our activity did spark what turned into a community redevelopment project. But despite years of creative merchandising, unconventional marketing and maniacal financial gymnastics, we were in debt up to our eyeballs.
Tired and disillusioned, one hot July day, Michael and I grabbed the dog, left a friend in charge of the store and went out to the north fork of Castle Creek, a pristine waterway at the base of Castle Crags.
We began looking for a swimming hole on foot, and found what seemed to be a gift from on high: a deep hole, 20 feet in diameter, framed by boulders and a huge fallen tree. It was perfect – out of site of the road, accessible only by bushwhacking a bit, and furnished with great rocks for sunning.
Within no time we had stripped, doused and were flopped in the sun, each in our own niche.
After some moments of settling down, I began to have the most surprising experience of a sublime beauty and caressing grace; as the wind rustled the green leaves set against a brilliant blue sky; the sounds, smells, and sensations of everything in this place became profoundly real, penetrating and stirring me. The environment was informing me, whispering very tangible sweetnesses to me. I felt as though I were being administered to, anointed and soothed.
I had experienced this magic before, but the total emersion in years of retail warfare had dulled my memory. I like so many had come to hope that capitalism would be my succor. In my off hours I drank to excess and perused retail catalogs, looking for something I didn’t know I was missing. Something I couldn’t find in those slick pages.
When did we become so needy? What are we really after in our pursuit of more and more things? Are those things really filling the deep need we seem to be skirting?
All I know is that time spent with nature, in a garden or by a creek, makes the world look brighter and helps me feel lighter.