Nature, it is one of the reasons I moved here. Let me tell you. There are very few places that real Nature exists anymore. In between the miles of big box stores, malls, housing subdivisions, corn and soybean fields, restaurants, grocery stores, schools, hospitals, office buildings, and warehouses, there are Nature Centers for us to visit.
But here, I experience Nature firsthand. Stars that fill the night sky, moonlight caressing the whole valley, frogs and toads, fog most every morning, birds singing, and silence. The stillness of the woods fills my being. It is an energy . . . an energy connecting me and the woods. We are one. Something a cubicle and fluorescent lighting can never do.
I hear coyotes at night. Never have I heard coyotes. Their yipping and howling intrigues me. I have heard owls for the first time. A deer screeched as I went to enter the woods on a path I cut. I was so startled, I retreated. There was a red headed woodpecker in the trees one day while I was getting water or wood. Because it was winter and the trees were bare, it was very easy to spot him.
The other night I heard something in the woods, and I tried to spot what it was with my flashlight. I deducted it had to be a deer because the sound of the noise was not light. I swear I saw two eyes shining in the light of the flashlight. For several minutes, I waited with bated breath to see if it would come out so I could view it. Didn’t happen. Oh, well. So many new things I have not seen or heard before.
My mom keeps telling everyone that I am cooking outside, which is true. And, up to that point, the weather had been good. Then it got cold. It was 4 below zero, and I was outside cooking, and it was still good.
Why? I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it connects me with ancient practices. I mean, that is what they did. They didn’t press a button and turn up the heat. Is it awful putting on extra clothes and boots to heat up some soup? Not in the least. Believe me, I am still connected to plenty of convenient gadgets and processes but this is back to basics.
I recently finished a book by Eric Brende, “Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology,” which is about a couple that is foregoing technology to live in an Amish type community. There are converts, like they are, in the community, too, along with Amish families. There is probably a reason he explains why they are there but I don’t exactly remember. But they are there.
Why are we drawn to this type of lifestyle? The rest of the US thinks we are crazy. And, it is something other than just getting off fossil fuels. I think it is good for our inner beings. It is good because it brings us back to basics, to survival, some primal, instinctive nature we left at the doorstep of the Industrial Revolution. For all the good it seems, all the conveniences, deep down, I am thinking they are actually robbing us of our primal nature.
I went in my woods to gather twigs for kindling for my fires. Now put that on your list of activities that you can’t wait to do. For me, there are no words again to describe the task or feeling of being in Nature. Maybe it brings me back to my childhood when we made forts, climbed trees, and played in the creek. Maybe it brings me, once again, to primal, ancient practices we have long lost.
A friend sent an email before the winter really started. He said, “Winter is exciting.” So when I saw him next, I asked him why he thought it was exciting. No one would say winter is exciting. He said it is survival. He and his partner heat with only a wood stove, as well, and harvesting wood is ensuring survival.
My current lifestyle borders on primitive. Many would say it is definitely primitive. But I would argue, or, at least point out, there are many conveniences within the so called “primitive” lifestyle I have. There are many things that I have that were created with fossil fuels that primitive or indigenous peoples didn’t have. But, I suppose, by our current standards, it is primitive.
What is the price of having technology? And, I am still a far cry from having no technology, although my lifestyle looks very radical. Environmentally, the price is huge. Survival is at stake. Psychologically, or perhaps spiritually is a better word, the price seems small. But is it?
Technology has taken us so far from Nature that we don’t know what it is, for most of us anyway, and visiting a forest or nature center doesn’t count in my book. There is a saying in the Koran that goes something like, “a loss is a gain, and a gain is a loss.” If technology is a gain, then we have truly lost Nature in our inner most beings, as we are Nature. Who wouldn’t take convenience? A push of a button over cutting wood for a fire? I don’t have any idea how to measure what we have lost. I only feel there is a price we have paid for it.