Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quiet


Ranch Santa Ana Botanical Gardens, California

When my city friends come to visit they often remark that it is so quiet at my house and I just laugh because I know it is really noisy with calling hawks and fussing crows. I’ve been thinking about this and what I think most people are doing is responding to nature itself and calling that quiet and peaceful. Because if they really wanted quiet they could put beans in their ears and block it all out. So it isn’t really quiet that they like but the connection to nature. We all seem to have a primitive urge to be in nature and are drawn to it but once there then what. I see people run around the forest just as busy as when they are in the city. In fact, even as a naturalist I am in constant motion when out in the woods and I have that “quiet” sound all around. I often wonder if my primitive self who used to look for firewood, food and safety, even though I no longer need to do so, is now using that energy to look for insects, flowers and mushrooms. I still find it difficult to sit and be quiet like a tree instead of scampering about like a squirrel. The remarkable thing to me is that sitting still and running around in the woods are both nurturing. But I think the sitting quietly and consciously is the better of the two, more rejuvenating and nourishing. In The Long-Legged House Wendell Berry said, “If one could respond to the quiet of those places with quiet, and with enough attention, the woods will reveal its lives…” So, I have come to the conclusion that we all need to relearn how to be in nature, how to be relaxed, calm and quiet.

I am still working out my thought on this subject and would love to hear what you think.


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15 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful post, I really enjoy the quiet of the woods. Especially if birds are part of the quiet. Great photo.

Gaelyn said...

I love the quiet some call nature. And I so much miss those subtle sounds when in a city or vehicle. Seems that some people don't even hear nature as they busily move thru it. I too need to learn to sit quietly with nature.

Icy BC said...

That's a wonderful view and post!

Jackie Callahan said...

I know what you mean, the "quiet" in nature is not necessarily quiet; I think what we are seeking when we come to spend time in nature, is the absence of the frenetic energy of the city, or the world-at-large. I think this mental break,through both the "quiet" we find in nature, and our connection to the natural world, is a real healing balm, and therefore has a profound impact on each of us. I know it's why I keep coming back!

squirrel said...

Thank you all for your input. I would really miss the birds if they didn't sing.

Gaelyn I have been trying to hear nature while in the city but it is difficult. I see birds but I can't hear them rustling in the leaves. Occasionally I will hear a squirrel if it is nearby but most of the time I am only visually aware.

Jackie I agree getting away from that frenentic energy is a big part of it. Berry was writing something to the effect that people take their energy to the forest and never really leave the city. Like you said in one of your posts it takes awhile to even get the charged up mind speak out of your head. Close focus photography helps me and I guess drawing helps you.

Woodswalker said...

I relate to your dilemma. I often enter the woods or push off in my canoe, intending to just BE in nature, but nature has a way of tapping me on the shoulder and trying to start a conversation: a bird lands on a limb and cocks its bright eye at me, an unexpected splash of color flashes its lights in my direction, a plant I have never seen and can't identify waves at me and I have to stop and say hello and ask its name. But hey, it's a nice kind of busyness, isn't it?

Martha Z said...

I relate to this essay. I love to be out in natural world but I rarely sit and take it in. Hiking down the trail I try to be alert to the plants and animals (a habit that often results on my landing on my but). Blogging has helped. It forces me to stand or sit and listen and watch; looking for the picture.

Martha Z said...

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squirrel said...

Woodswalker, I really liked what you wrote and agree. It is a nice kind of busyness. It is that connection to nature that we crave the most and I think spending time with different individual species of plants or animals makes that connection for me. Perhaps we don't really need to actually sit still but rather we can just have a quiet and respectful approach or dialogue with nature. I guess balance is the key here.

Thanks so much for your comment.

squirrel said...

Martha, I think blogging has made some difference in what I do while in the forest but I'm not sure it is always for the best. Sometimes I am looking and taking photos for "the blog" and following an agenda and come close to missing those serendipity moments. And missing the nurturing gift of mother nature.

A fellow blogger and I were driving down the road together and saw a spectular sky and we both thought BLOG photo. We didn't just see the sky for what it was, it had almost become a task to perform. Fortunately we caught ourselves in our foolishness, laughed and kept driving. But is was a bit of a wake up call.

Wanda said...

I love what I call the "loud silence" of my woods. Silent and Listen consist of the exact same letters in their spelling!

squirrel said...

Wanda, that is so cool! I love stuff like that. Thanks for your comment.

Damama T said...

When I was young I loved visiting my cousins because their house sat next to the most lovely wooded area. That's where I still go now, in my mind, when the pain and stress of daily life get to be too much. Having it there in the back of my mind to call forth on command is an awesome blessing. I cannot even imagine how much more of a blessing it would be to live there year round. Would I get so complacent about it that I wouldn't hear the quiet anymore? Would the leaves falling eventually bother me when they blew into my path? I don't know. But I'd love to find out some day. ;o)

Thank you for sharing this lovely post.

SquirrelQueen said...

I've never thought about nature as quiet, nor confined to the woods or forest. I can feel and hear nature in a forest, a desert, or on the tundra. Nature is never quiet but sometimes it will whisper and other times shout.

Jenn Jilks said...

I agree. I went outdoors this a.m. and it was very beautiful. A beaver (or fisher?) was slipping by under the water.No traffic. For once!
Thank you for visiting My Muskoka !