02 September 2011

The Tough Love of Nature

This afternoon, I had a conversation with a friend, and at one point, we started talking about being out in nature. That discussion led me to some reflection.

My friend is from the East Coast, and she talked about growing up in suburbia and feeling apprehensive when she leaves behind civilization for wild areas. She said she sometimes worries about encounters with wildlife. Being a child of the rural Pacific Northwest, I grew up surrounded by nature, wild areas, and wildlife, so I told her how I often get uneasy in cities (in essence, the reverse of her concerns).

After the conversation, however, I thought more about what she had said. I came to the conclusion that for as much as I love being out in nature, in the back of my mind, I am always a little wary of its power.

I've never seen a cougar in the wild, but I have seen cougar tracks and also a black bear. While the chances of being attacked by either a cougar or a black bear in the wild are small, seeing those animals or even just seeing signs of them is a reminder that people don't get to call the shots in nature.

I try to meet nature on its terms, and I also attempt to keep alert. I think being wary of what nature can do is a good thing and is important to the interaction we have with it. In fact, it might be one of the reasons I like being in nature. When I come through the experience of being reminded of my place, I get a sense of comfort and belonging.

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