When nature gets shut out

The area I live in is absolutely gorgeous. The forests have an array of evergreen and deciduous trees, ensuring a display of every shade of green and many a golden hue. There are lakes, streams, and ocean.

It’s right there, behind the neighbor’s fence or across the road. But you just can’t get to it. Canoe and kayak access to water is a subculture that requires research and networking with other enthusiasts to find. Trails are relatively few. Bicycling in many places is like placing your life at the mercy of lunatic drivers. 

Highways have crowded out ecosystems and wildlife. People try to destroy pests but end up creating whole neighborhoods of chemical stench. The lawns are only meant to be enjoyed from indoors, gazing through the window at a thick carpet of unrealistic green without a single dot of yellow dandelion or creamy clover. Nature is being shut out. Or we are being shut in. 

Case in point -This morning I saw a breathtaking sunrise while I was driving. The sun was just clearing the horizon turning everything a golden coral, mist was rising from the tranquil waters, outlining the silhouette of a lone fisherman in a boat.

But there was no place to safely stop and enjoy it. I actually turned my car around and tried again to find a place, or at least a break in the traffic that made it safe to go slower than the 40 mph speed limit. Here’s what I got: 

This one was taken when I turned around and went back. I had set it up so I could use the voice activation feature to take the picture.
This one was from the safe place to pull over. Don’t you love the scenic guardrail taking up most of the picture?!

I find this maddening and saddening. Modern life has set aside the wonders of this earth and replaced them with strip malls, mega-marts, and interstates. We zoom along in our planes, trains, and automobiles; minds fixed on the next thing we need to rush off and do. We don’t notice nature. We don’t even notice the gates, bars, and guardrails that we have put up between ourselves and nature anymore. 

I know, this isn’t an original idea. As long as this has been happening, people have been mourning the loss of the connection humans were meant to have with the earth.  

I ask, how can humanity reach its full potential if it ignores it’s purpose? Which is this: to inhabit, explore, and care for this planet, to love each other and the animals, to dig deep into the wisdom of it’s Designer.

How can we as individuals reach that purpose if we are distracted and caged off from our own home? That’s why I say, let’s break out! 

Breathe, be still, connect, stop rushing, just be. 

(All photos my own) 

Macro

One day from my childhood stands out like a jewel in my memory. We were traveling to a very remote lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Before writing on, I tried using Google maps to scroll around the lakes and refresh my memory so I could tell you the name of the lake, but I give up. Mom and Dad, when you read this you’ll have to help me out.

We went on a day trip from our campsite to visit this little lake, and if I remember right, there weren’t even any sites on it and it didn’t lead to any other lake either. In other words, about as remote as you can get in the lower 48!

Photo credit: Christine D’Anza

It was a perfect day full of sunshine and sparkle. You know when there’s a very light wind and the waves are barely bigger than ripples. The sun reflects off each ripple so the lake looks like it’s wearing sequins. I remember canoeing around and then landing on shore. We all got out and just wandered around exploring. I came across a perfect rock shelf about 8 inches above the water line and just the right size for me to lie down on and stare into the lake.

I was instantly transported to a different world. Under water, creeping along the vertical face of my shelf were about 40 tiny snails. I actually counted them. I watched long enough to discover that each one was traveling a slightly different direction. They were going about their daily business totally unaware of their observer from above. Some were speeding right along, others took their time. That conclusion in itself seemed weird. A snail’s pace is one speed, slow, right? Actually, no!

When I finally got up, I had absolutely no idea how much time had gone by. Space and time had bent and stretched in ways I had never considered possible, until I experienced this vertical world where time moves at a snail’s pace. I had been so completely engulfed in what I imagined to be Snail Times Square, that I lost all sense of reality and was unaware of anything else around me.

Here are some pictures and video I took this week, using a macro lens on my phone. Looking at the world in macro brought the memory of Snail Times Square rushing back!

*Update: Mom says we weren’t in the Boundary Waters but Ontario, Canada and it was Eric Lake.  Sorry Google maps, it wasn’t your fault I couldn’t find the lake!