Putting the Mother back in Nature

27 April 2011 Ideas Life

It’s raining. Melissa and I are biking down highway 6 from Tobermory, letting the fat drops of water hit our faces as we cycle towards Singing Sands Provincial Park. We know the forecast called for scattered showers today, but we’d been cooped inside for the last two days and cabin fever got the best of us. A warm front preceded the deluge, raising the humidity and leaving us with fogged-up glasses as the first raindrops touched our heads. It feels good to be surrounded by the elements. It feels good to welcome nature, to remind myself that the world is not synthetic. The Earth is alive. It breathes, cries, shudders, and screams. It shelters, it provides, it performs.

Last night, we watched a lighting storm dance in the sky over the Georgian Bay. We laid on soft white pillows looking through double-paned balcony windows at the sudden flashes and cracks across the sky. The majesty of creation, framed by the window. Picturesque. Manageable. I opened the window just enough to hear the crash of thunder, but not enough to let the falling water invade our room. Just enough so the raging storm didn’t become a threat to our comfort.

We are at a point in human history where nature is a luxury. Parks and open spaces have become a social amenity, a quality-of-life indicator. More and more people are leaving rural areas to populate the world’s cities. Fewer people live off the land, and those that do are treating nature in an ever more formulaic fashion. This living, breathing, mega-organism we call Earth has been reduced to simple inputs and outputs.

Scientific evidence and cold, hard, peer-reviewed facts have helped make the case for environmentalism. But they have also changed the nature of our dialogue. The “Lungs of the Earth” have become “Carbon Sinks”. “Save the Whales” has become “A Biodiversity Crisis”. The Earth that we are trying to save is becoming faceless and far removed from our everyday lives.

So here I am, riding down highway 6 as rain beats down on my face, soaking my hair, blurring my vision, and I feel whole. An inexplicable happiness bubbles up inside me, and I’m reminded of these lyrics:

Rain, another rainy day Comes up from the ocean Gives herself away She comes down easy On rich and debt the same And she gives herself away (Daisy by Switchfoot)
Sam Nabi

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