Growing up in a place like Whitefish, Montana was not only wild, crazy and fun it was also touchingly beautiful and magnificent. I didn’t quite have the capacity to truly understand its beauty at the age of 8 years old but rather it was something that developed and flourished inside of me as I grew older.
I had a privileged upbringing. I am white, I come from a middle class family and my father worked hard to provide everything we could ever want and then some. We had a house on Whitefish lake and were only about 20 minutes from the top of the ski hill, then called The Big Mountain. Glacier National Park was only an hour away, another stunning area called Jewel Basin was about the same and Flathead Lake near by as well. Nature was literally at my fingertips. I was very lucky.
My parents passion for nature was lovingly passed on to me over the years. The importance of getting outside to play and explore, to go hiking, biking, skiing, swimming. In the beginning it was forced upon me and I have to admit I didn’t always love it but it wasn’t a choice, it’s what we did. The persistence of my parents paid off and I have no doubt that my love of nature is what it is today because of them. I find myself repeating to my kids today — “it’s a beautiful day outside you must get out and enjoy it, go explore!”. I would spend hours with my friends building forts in the woods, swimming at the lake, riding our bikes around until the twilight hours only to come in when we were completely exhausted and starving. Those early memories of my time in nature are still some of the best that I have.
By the time I was in High School the exploration of nature expanded as we could drive ourselves about. Weekend hikes in Glacier National Park or Jewel Basin, x-country or downhill skiing, mountain biking around the lake, skinny dipping, camping at a keg party out in the middle of nowhere. Almost all that we did was outside because there just wasn’t much to do inside. There was the mall, a bowling alley and a movie theatre that was about it for inside entertainment. It just didn’t stack up to the great expanse of the outdoors.
I didn’t realize at the time how formative nature was for me but I certainly do now. It has made me realize that we are only one of the planets creatures and we are not any more important than any of the other creatures who live here. We all need to share this space together and treat it with the love and respect that it deserves. This planet has given us life and it sustains our every need. There is water, there is food, there is sunshine, there is oxygen and there are others to witness and share our lives with.
I believe that we are deeply connected to the earth and all that lives upon it. When I am out in nature I can feel this connection in my bones and in my heart. I often wake early on the weekends and savour the time I have to take my dog out for a walk before many others are out. This is most wonderful in the spring when the rebirth of nature abounds. The cacophony of bird song, the wind in the trees, the river rushing by, the bright green of the trees budding, the flowers starting to bloom, the sweet pungent smell of new life in the air. Some mornings when the sun is shining bright, the mountain peaks are gleaming with snowy tips and the dew is fresh on the sun tipped green leafy branches I feel almost overwhelmed with beauty and awe. How can this be so freakin’ beautiful? It is perfect just as it is.
I have come to realize that beauty and perfection just as it is in nature is also present in each and every one of us. It exists beneath the fear, the anxiety, the trauma, the grief. It is often buried under years of pain deep within your heart. You may feel it leak out at times when you are in nature, that real connection that you feel. That moment of inspiration and awe. It is always there waiting to show itself and be discovered once again. I know we all feel this connection, some more than others only because of what we may have dealt with in our lives and what we have been exposed to.
We can actually see our bodies mirrored in nature. The tree branches like our lungs acting as the lungs of the earth, a Moringa Oleifera tree (the tree of life)like the human placenta, the tree stump like our bodies rooting us to the earth, our veins like the veins of a leaf carrying the oxygen and nutrients we need to survive. It is very obvious when you actually look at it.
I believe that nature can heal and can teach us so much if we only learn to listen. I feel so lucky to live in the beautiful province that is British Columbia. I know now why I ended up here, the mountains were calling me home. What is calling to you? Perhaps it’s time to listen a little harder and head the calling. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The mountains are calling and I must go — John Muir