Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some thoughts on Nature: Our trip to The Columbia Gorge (Oregon)

My husband and I spent the weekend out in Hood River celebrating our 9 year anniversary. Our real anniversary is in December, but we decided to go early in case our basement decides to leak in December like it did the last 2 years. (that is another story for another time)Mount Hood Time out in nature is a great way to get exercise, to detox from life-from TV, phone calls, obligations, internet..and walking together can do wonders for a relationship. Time to talk, be together. The act of walking-hiking brings on the endorphins and good feelings..and the quiet opens us up to talk together, or practice being in the here and now, as we engage our senses: listen to the sounds, smell the plant life, feel the air, the ground beneath our feet, touch the leaves, taste our snack, observe the change in scenery, the light variations in the forest, etc..

Recently, at my daughter's preschool, her teacher gave a talk about the importance of nature. She did a research project in which she studied the types of play from the dramatic to the constructive, soliatary, social play, etc. She hypothesized that out in nature, children would engage in more complex play; and he studied did show just that. I also read an article from the Waldorf perspective of education about the types of toys that they recommended. Open-ended, undefined. Toys made simply out of natural materials: sticks, shells, nuts, rocks..Those things can become anything in a child's imagination. Too often toys are made from plastic and are too defined...which actually limits a child's imagination. When child plays out in nature, the sky is the limit of her imagination. A stick can be anything...a rock, a shady tree. Downed trees become playstructures to balance and climb upon. Water play..leaves piled high..snow-forts, igloos..You get the idea. When children play and connect with nature, they will be more likely to care about nature.

I have lived in Oregon for 11 years now. I LOVE it here! So much natural beauty and also a great place to grow food as well. The culture at least in the Portland area is becoming more and more sustainability minded. At times, I have been wary of the "trendy-ness" aspect of this..I'm not about to spend our "whole paycheck" shopping at Whole Foods or New Seasons(i do shop at NS regularly, but not for my "entire grocery needs"..Healthy food should not just be for the "elite" And Trader Joes is cheaper and has great snacks, but has a hypocrical overuse of packaging-to appeal to an elite, I think..make it look pretty all packaged up. And much is imported...big carbon footprint there..Once I even found a pencil at New Season that advertised itself as being a pencil made from recycled newspaper. But, the single pencil was encased in plastic packaging!! How silly!!! What a fraud! and how frustrating to those who want to be true to "sustainability"... I am not interested in being popular or elite. I just want to live in a more sustainable, healthy way in an affordable way. That is one reason Monique Dupre's Sustainable Living on a Budget appealed to me 2 years ago. She is educating people on how people can eat and live responsibly and inexpensively. http://www.sustainablebudget.com/

Nature is spiritual too---whenever I am surrounded by nature, I feel a sense of peace..and humility.. thoughts come to me that might not surface into my conscious thought on a hectic day of running errends. Many cycles of nature mirror our spiritual cycles..Metaphors can be created from nature to explain soo much...and give us much greater understanding. Lodgepole pine trees only release their seeds in fire...only through fire can they propogate themselves. In life, the "fire" or tribulations are sometimes the only way we can also grow.. Sometimes the harsh fires that seem so "bad" are actually necessary. Perhaps even the pandemics...are necessary and our fear of "fire" of death..fear of nature and somtimes its lack of mercy.. makes us create vaccines to avoid facing our mortality..we are so afraid of nature..or the illnesses. (me included)..but the truth is, we can't run from it forever..the chronic illnesses from over-medicating ourselves from it..thinking we are protecting ourselves from it..is going to catch up to us, I predict.. The Canadian study that isn't published or proven yet...give me an incling of that...that possibility that people who get the seasonal vaccine might be 2x as likely to get the swine flu... http://www.homeland1.com/Public-Health/articles/594279-Most-of-Canada-suspends-flu-shots-due-to-study-of-H1N1-risk/Stories like that make we wonder that we really can't run away from the dangers of nature forever. And many people born before the 60's are not likely to suffer too much from this flu (because they have already been exposed to a cousin of this virus)..If those people were vaccinated for it then, they probably would be more vulnerble now??wouldn't have the lifetime immunity that they may have now..In 20 years what will the next pandemic look like if we depended too much on a vaccine now? Fewer people with a lifetime immunity to it, perhaps?? Perhaps the true danger isn't in this pandemic, but the next one..and I theorize that the vaccine now..could make us more vulnerble at a time when it is more dangerous.. (i'm not against all vaccines..but I am against unnecesary ones..considering that each vaccine can have harmful chemicals in the mix--too many harmful chemicals may overwhelm our bodies to rid themselves of the bad stuff..)
On top of that, it seems the vaccine doesn't even work very well. 60% success rate at its best for young children.. Someone I know had her 3 children vaccianted weeks ago for the swine flu. They recently came down with it anyway-- long after they should have been immune to it; and they got it pretty bad. Could the vaccine have even made their systems weaker and have a harder time fighting it? I'm not sure.. But, I wonder...

Somehow we need to make peace with these natural forces...and perhaps even trust that it isn't as merciless as we think...God has given us so many plants that are medicinal to us..perhaps that is part of the mercy.. Each species has something inherent that protects them. And perhaps even death truly isn't the "end"..perhaps the mercy is always there..especially if you believe we do not truly die.. Not that I want to die...and especially not my children!!! But, perhaps it would be good to examine our fear of nature..Seems we don't even trust women to give birth naturally.. 25% c-section rate in this country, (maybe higher)..so afraid that if birth doesn't happen during a certain time frame, that there is inherent danger..if a women in labor too long, or if she is over 41 weeks..then begins the talk of induction.. We don't trust herbs to heal us so we resort quickly to aggressive approaches all too often, I think.. Not that they always work, either, but why not try more natural ways first..?? I think this is changing...How we view nature -how we co-exist, interact, use our world HAS to change or we will not last much longer on this planet. It's as simple as that. but not really so simple...much to give up and change and it is not going to happen too quickly, I'm afraid. I hope, that we will change, though..in time to save this world for our children, grandchildren. I don't want their lives to be full of the consequences of our lifestyle..because of our shortsightedness..because we think we "need" that "new" thing..toy.. I am trying...trying to change. and even in myself, feeling as I do, I struggle with this everyday...when I forget, get distracted, feel an impulse.. It really takes strength, determination, will-power, commitment..but I think the only way to do it is one step at a time and remembering the "battle" everyday to filter those ads, ask ourselves if we can buy that thing used..or cooking from scratch, thinking about our carbon footprint..buying local, sustainable, whenever we can.. learning, using our minds, our consciences.. And..caring about our world...spending time with it, remebering what it gives to us..the peace you can find on a hike, a bike ride, a walk, a boat ride, fishing, playing with a stick, gardening, even sitting in the sun.


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