Rachel Lovejoy

“To the heart of Nature one must needs be drawn to such a life; and very soon I learned how richly she repays in deep refreshment the reverent love of her worshipper.” ~ Celia Laighton Thaxter

If ever there was a time when I wasn’t close to Nature, I can’t recall it. I may have drifted a distance away from her a few times through the years when other worldly lures pulled me forth. But always, there was some line, albeit tenuous at times, which kept me tethered eternally to her. I may have not always been aware of that connection, but that may have been because I was so deeply and snugly wrapped in her stimuli that I couldn’t see or consider anything else beyond them.

In retrospect, I see now, these sixty-plus years later, how near to me she always was. I remember as a child sitting on the ground in our big backyard in summer, plucking blades of grass from the earth, sifting them between my fingers, sprinkling them across my sun-browned mosquito-bitten legs…how the grass felt beneath me as my little summer dress rose above my knees and I felt cradled in all that lush greenness. I’d turn over and stare down into the lawn, between the riot of blades and sometimes spied a tiny beetle or ant there, working its way among what, to it, might have been giant Sequoias. With childish hands, I parted the grass to make pathways for them and like to think they might have appreciated that innocent gesture.

When I was 6 years old, I was in the big field behind our house with some neighbor children, running through the tall unkempt weeds, the Japanese knotweed and wild asters, avoiding the dreaded webs of the garden spiders, on the hunt always for toads and other small creatures. At one point, I jumped up on a log and then fell over backwards into the brush, dizzy with the rush of it, completely unaware that my leg had been torn open by a large rusty spike sticking from it. After some stitches at a local hospital and the obligatory recovery period, I was back out there, most likely ignoring my parents’ warnings to “stay on this side of the fence!”

Back then, life wasn’t the developed montage that it is now. During the 1950’s, the days when I first realized there was an enormous world outside that of my family’s duplex and that much of it had still not been asphalted or cemented or built upon, it was still possible to find open spaces not far from home, spaces where I ran as freely as the wind that buffeted me along. More than once in those days, I made my poor father late for his second-shift job at the mill, as he had to mount another search for me that typically ended in his finding me in a chest-high sea of grass somewhere or crawling under someone’s back porch because a flutter of movement not associated with another human had caught my fancy.

And so it went and so it still goes, with some minor alterations in my own sense of awareness. Oh, Nature still beguiles me at every turn, and I still stop in mid-sentence sometimes when I hear something or my radar picks up some sort of movement close by that isn’t part of the usual choreography of my small life. But now, Nature has evolved for me into a great source of solace and healing, even just in the knowing that there are still many places left where our woes cannot intrude because they are not welcome there…that there is still something that makes perfect sense, where all the equations produce the same results each time and often beautifully so, and where, lacking human intervention, nothing ever changes but what is supposed to in the births, deaths, and rebirths of all that lives and that does so eternally.

Let me backtrack here a bit. Did I really use the word “small” in that last paragraph to describe my

life? For it is hardly that at all. I may not have the world’s best credit rating and like many in my age bracket, I live month to month and consider myself fortunate when my car starts everyday. But how rich I am in all things green and growing, flying and fluttering, drifting and dancing, singing and sighing, sparkling and scintillating and shining…dew-kissed and sun-bathed and wind-refreshed and snow-whitened and moon-glowed…and all of it there, always, for the taking and the seeing and feeling and hearing and smelling and loving.

Nature has never ceased rewarding me for the great love I have invested in her, for the awareness I have honed in her name, for the sharpness of vision these tired old eyes still possess. No matter where I go, no matter where I’ve lived, and no matter where else this journey ever takes me, one thing is sure beyond a doubt: Nature will be there in some form, and all she ever asks of me is that I notice.

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