nature

LILACS, TREES, PEONIES | LIFE AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Home. Ohio. The United States.

My mom's lilac bush is overflowing and offering us a truly engulfing scent experience. To awake in Ohio with a  vase of lilacs by our bedside was, how shall I say, intoxicating. Peony season is nigh. Being sure to say hello to the little ants crawling all over them, I pressure the peonies to bloom before we leave again. The birds are up well before the light of sunrise, chattering and planning away. I imagine they are saying something like, "Where are the good worms today? Hey, want to fly three towns over just because we can?" How fortunate they are. My favorite thing about this season — more than the flowers, the honeybees, the wildlife — are the trees before a storm. Have you ever noticed the way trees rustle and wave right before a summer thunderstorm hits? I have long imagined that the rustling is in fact the trees excitedly talking to each other, saying "hold on tight and drink up, it's gonna be a good one!" A bit of magical realism, maybe, but magical all the same.

All this to say: A few days of normalcy feels divine. When we left Greece last weekend we left social media for one year, too. Mark and I had been talking about our mutual desire to unplug from platforms that left us feeling less than satiated. The social media well had run dry; it was unfruitful. I wondered if leaving social media meant I would lose the connections with friends that I had made across the world; Mark wondered if our blog would lose readership. In the end we decided it just does not matter. Things good and true have a propensity for existing in the most genuine realms of our lives, and for us Instagram and Facebook no longer felt genuine. Even in this new normal of All The Time Access, community and opportunity must exist outside of the internet; they always have. More than anything, I did not want to fritter away precious moments of my life to the Internet. Zuckerberg doesn't deserve that much of my time. (Heh heh.)

Undistracted living has created the space for my imagination to flourish. Negative space is not filled with stimulation or scrolling. I have lost track of my phone, out of battery in the other room, for days at a time. It would sound inconsequential, but I did not lose track of my phone when I was using Instagram.

In the days sans curating Instagram or Facebook posts, I have listened to the trees. I have talked to bugs. I have sat quietly next to my husband without distraction. I have felt like the 1990s and before. I have felt like myself. How sweet it is to be so enveloped in the charisma and calm of a Midwest spring; a Midwest existence. 


—S

BONES + STONES | BRINGING NATURE INDOORS

 
sea-urchins
deer-skull-and-driftwood
jars-filled-with-nature-treasures

Our (down) home. This is a look into a space that, for us, is real, honest, and full of dead things—err, "nature things." The process of bringing nature indoors is rarely pristine. At the very least, the item will need scrubbed. More likely, it will need aired out for weeks—as is the case with sea urchins and underwater shells. The deer skull pictured within was my greatest Thing Found, and it was nearly a yearlong process before it was ready. I thought I would describe the story, but it's long & involves macerating tissue, so I'll abstain.

Perhaps your thing is not cleaning forgotten skulls + airing out smelly seashells. Perhaps it's better that way. But if by chance nature collections do appeal to you, I can assure you that creating space with nature is a slow and sometimes intensive process, but when you look around and see items made not in China but in the wilderness, I suspect you're more likely to feel at peace. Or, anyway, it allows me to feel at peace in a 400 square foot apartment that I don't even formally live in.

The point is: do not be shy. Be sustainable with what you collect, but avoid timidity. Get on the internet, or better yet, put your nose into a book, and learn how to do the thing you've been wanting to do.

deer-mandibles
clam-shells
cactus-with-driftwood
cigar-box-and-deer-skull

P.S. If you have questions on this subject that you feel I might be able to answer, please send an email.
I love email.


—S

THE SEASONS | ON OBSERVATION + STILLNESS

 
canadiangoose

Life in a four-season environment can be a humbling experience. Ohio is such an environment, where there is a very real chance that you may feel the touch of winter, spring, summer, and fall in a single day. Over the course of an entire year, it is a guarantee. 

Our coexistence with nature's annual phases of change is a blessing. It is a lesson on stillness and observation, and a reminder that all things must pass. But we have to be there for it. We must show up.

Each year seems a new opportunity to be present with the changes that come and go seemingly too quickly, and to appreciate the unique state of our environment at any given time. We tend to enter into the cycle in the throes of a deep freeze; we see the local flora & fauna slowly come to life, grow, and flourish before retreating in a cherished (and currently ongoing) display of autumnal glory. 

cardinal-in-trees
cardinal

The distinctive presence of all four seasons is, without a doubt, the greatest joy of living where we do. If not for the seasons, Ohio might be (ok, would be) humdrum. But because of the seasons, we are ecologically rich. Even so, as an Ohioan it is all too easy to get out of your car, bundled in thirteen layers, after having navigated brutally & very frightening snowy roads, vowing to never leave your house again. 

We have all cursed the snow. But hear us out. There is beauty to be found in it all. Our feeling is that a little observation goes a very long way. 

canadian-geese-walking

The sky alone is seasonally contingent: migratory patterns play out, gifting us with glimpses of a vast array of species to appreciate; the sun, the moon, and the stars reveal themselves to us in different configurations; the clouds offer us snow and rain, and sometimes disappear altogether. This year, it rained on all but one day in June, giving way to two full months of drought in July and August.

There is more change, yet, on the ground. The trails we hike scarcely resemble themselves from one season to the next. The trees are constantly transforming. They are obvious, and they deserve our gratitude unabated.

Produce. Ah, produce. We pull fruits and vegetables from the earth and from branches, sustaining ourselves on a bounty only possible at a specific time & in a specific place. (Seriously, seasonal, local eating will transform your perspective on our food landscape. It will probably transform your health, too, but that's for another post.) The animals around us forage & hunt, rear their young, and plan for the seasons long before we doburying foodstuffs, growing a winter coat, doing that magic thing they do.
But what about us? Where do we fit?

backpack

Ideally, as stewards of this unbelievably complex & dynamic environment. If all of the animals around us are observing & adapting to the changes ongoing, should we not, as well? The human race is a part of the environment, not its master. There is no us and them. We are codependent from the moment we arrive in the world. And the seasonswith all of their unpredictable, volatile, and beautiful waysshould be a reminder of that.

Let us observe. Let us be still. Let us learn from the seasons; moving and growing and dying together, but always always always making way for the next.

canadian-goose-on-water

—M&S