I’ve always been drawn to and intrigued by the complexity of our outdoor world. I suppose this is the scientist part of me that wants to delve deeper into various subjects and not just accept what is known. It wasn’t enough for me to hear the quack of a duck and simply accept the fact this is what they sound like. No, I had to look at the parts of the duck that created these sounds and learn more about them. It has never been enough for me to just know that feathers help birds fly. I needed to inspect the components of the feather and apply the science of the interaction of the feather and flight itself. In some ways I look at this as a curse that stimulates my brain to its limit as various subjects enter my gray matter. I wish now that I had been so intrigued in my courses of biochemistry and the study of Kreb’s cycle in my younger days. On second thought, I’m sure I would still be hunting some bug down during the summer and chasing some critter in the fall as I do now. As complex as many subjects in life are there is one, at least to me, that borders on the edge of such vastness that it is mind boggling. I refer to it as our natural world.
What do you think of when you hear the word “nature?” Do you associate this word with trees and flowers? Does the first thought that pops into your mind have to do with birds and bees? For some, mountains and endless blue skies may represent the definition of nature. What about the sound of raindrops falling on a forest floor? Could this be at least a part of the definition? Let’s look deeper into what “nature” really is and what it really means to us.
The word “nature” is derived from the Latin word natura. Natura is a Latin translation of the word “physis” which originally referred to the characteristics that the flora, fauna, and other features of the world develop and exist of their own accord. In today’s connotation of the word, at least for many, we seem to associate plants, animals, rocks, streams, and the like as “nature” with a peaceful analogy. We seem to think of nature as a relaxing, almost meditational, venue for us to enjoy. When the components of nature exist as previously described, there are at times harsh consequences to one or more organisms. Take for example crocodiles ambushing migrating wildebeest as they attempt to cross rivers to find better grazing lands. What do you think of when caribou calves are wrestled from the herd by packs of wolves, as the rest of the herd helplessly observes? Is this not nature also? This may not be a pleasantry to think of but it is a reality.
We seem to exclude ourselves, humans that is, from being an intricate part of nature. In fact a definition of nature, that I’m somewhat satisfied with, reads as such, “the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, and other features of the earth as opposed to humans or human creations. So is man not invited to be included in nature? Is life not part of nature? Is nature not part of our life? Of course it is. Life is generally accepted as cellular organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli, and reproduction. So can we make the analogy, at least in part, that nature is life? Are you now beginning to realize the complexity of all of this?
Now comes the question do we, as humans, get involved with nature or just allow nature to take its place? Well, it’s a little late for that. We have manipulated, disrupted, and complicated nature since “civilized man” has come to this earth. We are all at fault, me included, by trying to make this world a “better” place to live. The silt from the plow, the gouge from the blade, and the trash from the home, all play a role in nature being compromised. In my opinion, we owe it to the natural world and those to follow our short-lived tenure on this planet to restore, preserve, conserve, and do our best to make better our natural world. My nephew, Clayton Kirkland, sent the following quote to me and I only wish I would have had the insight to write it. It reads, “There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.” Author……. Theodore Roosevelt.”
Sometimes I need to read publications and other pieces of literary script several times to fully gain an appreciation of the matter presented. So may be the case with you concerning this article for I too know it is of deeper “nature” than a lot of my pieces. Does this hit home with you? Are you thinking of our world now in a different sense? If so, maybe I have accomplished something for good and just maybe there is merit when I close each of my writings with the cliché, “Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.” I hope so.