I cannot remember a time when I did not live in or close to woods. I grew up in a house surrounded by giant white oaks, the last of the white oaks in the New York city area. So rare the city took care of them for us, though they were on our property. All the other white oaks had long ago been cut to use as masts for tall ships.
Even when I lived in a city or suburbs, we spent vacations, weekends, most of our off-time in the country and often, very far out in the country. Places you could only get to by dirt roads. Awed? No, not so much awed, though often impressed. Except on the ocean where I am constantly aware how quickly Mother Nature can change from benevolent to terrifying.
I have sailed — in a tiny wooden sailboat — through thunder squalls. Not of my own choice, I should add. I had an insane husband who liked to pit himself against the seas. It gave him great stories to tell when friends dropped by. I thought him mad, but there I was, with him and the baby, so maybe madness is contagious.
Today, we live in a not-so-little house in the woods. I love the trees, hate the pollen and have really gotten totally sick and tired of the bugs, tons of leaves to clean up every year, not to mention a fascinating collection of critters who think our heated house is the spot for a winter retreat. Our endless battle against mice, rats and chipmunks never ends.
Then there are the bobcats who haven’t read the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries bulletins about being shy of humans and take up residence under the deck or in some other building next to the house, ignoring us and going out of their way to aggravate the dogs. Or the fishers who think the back lawn is the ideal place to sun bathe, snarling at anyone who tries to use the yard. The birds who nest on the deck, screaming at us and attacking should we dare attempt to use our back door. They leave when they are good and ready. They didn’t read the bulletins either.
For all that, I can’t imagine living in a concrete world again. I need contact with the earth, with all the challenges of living in a forest with wild things. Which reminds me, I really must remove the mouse nest from my car’s transmission compartment ASAP … I have no idea how they keep getting in there.
Being connected to nature is as necessary as the pollen-filled air we breathe and the inhalers I keep nearby to control the asthma.