Living with Nature in the City
I have been in love with the natural world since I was a little girl, never happier than when I was outside climbing trees or digging up earthworms. I had a parade of dogs, cats, frogs, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, baby chicks, and ducklings that my mother patiently allowed me to keep over the years, some more successfully than others. I feel most connected with who I want to be when I am surrounded by nature, and I know it speaks to my soul on an elemental level. Being in nature and with animals is built into our DNA…many of us have just forgotten that over time. Though the world has evolved with great advances in technology and the development of huge cities, in some ways it has devolved, taking us farther and farther away from the natural world.
There are still many places to connect with nature, thankfully. My heart sings most especially in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Surrounded by the beautiful vistas, green encompassing the land in so many shades, the Nantahala River and its waterfalls speaking to me in a wordless language, I feel at peace, like I belong there, like I have been there long before I was born. I dream of living there someday, but the realities of my life and work won’t allow that…for now. Anniversary trips will have to suffice.
My reality is that I live in the middle of the city in Southside Birmingham, on the outskirts of downtown. The view is beautiful, but it is challenging to find that connection with nature that is so important to me, so necessary. My husband and I have done the best we can to create a space at home that feels like an oasis, a place where – even though I can hear the hum of the city, I am surrounded by green, by my dogs and cat, and the birds, squirrels, possums, raccoons, and other creatures that somehow seem to coexist in the bustle of the city. The arrival of Spring has awoken this deep pull to experience the outdoors- even if the outdoors is only in my yard. It is important to have that connection, to commune with animals and soil and plants. We are hard wired for that experience, but for so many of us, the call has become faint.
Over the past few days, I tried to capture some photos that show my little slice of nature in the city. I discovered that what I need from nature is always there, if I will only look for it and be open to the gifts it has to offer. While I would rather hear the crashing waters of the Nantahala River and the song of Mountain Warblers over the sound of distant sirens and traffic, I believe that we choose to make our lives joyous (or not), no matter the situation. I will continue to look for the magic of nature hidden in my city and around my home. Miracles everywhere.