Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weathering The Storm

This is a short essay I wrote in response to John Muir's 'Windstorm In The Forest'

    Having little experience with the pine and juniper forests of the Western United States, previous to my relocation to Montana – I found myself looking back fondly to my memories of growing up amongst the deciduous oak and hickory forests of the Midwest. I spent many an hour perched high above an open cornfield, tree-stand tied tightly to the trunk of an oversized White Oak, or Shagbark Hickory. I relate to the sensations that Muir felt during that wind storm, the cacophony of sounds the twisting and dancing trees make as the wind tickles and caresses every branch and twig “The sounds of the storm corresponded gloriously with this wild exuberance of light and motion.” The way that Muir describes the smell of the pine forest “The fragrance of the woods was less marked than that produced during warm rain, when so many balsamic buds and leaves are steeped like tea...the gale was spiced to a very tonic degree.” Is one of my favorite aspects of the western coniferous forests. There is nothing quite like a warm breeze through the pines after a violent spring downpour. The sharp, crisp mountain air percolating through the needles has the inherent ability to comfort the mind and soul simultaneously. Reminding one that there is more to life than the errant requirements of modern civilization.
    “Winds are advertisements of all they touch, however much or little we may be able to read them”. Muir reminds us that there is a story within each breeze, however ephemeral it may be. Through this non-direct anthropomorphism of nature, we are reminded of our own mortality. We drift through life, letting each metaphorical branch leave its' mark upon us, leaving our own mark upon it as well. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Delving Into Emersonian Thought

I wrote this short response after reading "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson as part of my writing-intensive class "The Environmental Vision"

The Outdoor Cathedral - Delving Into Emersonian Thought

    Having never read any of the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, or even being exposed to his core ideals, I found myself thoroughly enjoying Nature. I was introduced to transcendentalism in high school through the works of Thoreau, and in college through the study of Kantian philosophy. I immediately connected with the sort of rejection of the current state that these authors all portrayed.
    Within Nature, one truly gets to see the extent that Emerson believes in the sacredness and beauty of nature “ is an abstract or epitome of the world. It is the result or expression of nature, in miniature...The world thus exists to the soul to satisfy the desire of beauty.” Emerson viewed the world as the centerpiece of human existence in a time period where the natural world was often shifted to the peripheral.
    I personally strongly connect with Emerson on his value of small, everyday events “Not less excellent, except for our less susceptibility in the afternoon, was the charm, last evening, of a January sunset...the air had so much life and sweetness, that it was a pain to come within doors.” The simple joy of enjoying a sunset is oft not realized in a society so preoccupied with constantly producing and consuming. There is a zen-like essence in Emerson’s worldview that tells one it is not only alright to stop and enjoy nature, but it should be commonplace.
    I try to practice the mindfulness of the often overlooked within my daily life, and am inspired to find a work that was written nearly two hundred years ago to be still so relevant today.