Starting in the middle: N is for Nature

As some of you might know, I grew up on a small farm on the western plains of New South Wales:  the daughter of an English immigrant and a fifth generation Scott who never called Australia home until well into her seventies.  Until I was in my late thirties I had met only one person of Aboriginal descent, and poor, put-upon Francis Glass would have been unlikely, and probably unwilling, to explain the meaning of Country to the new girl, who took her under her wing as an act of pity, and shame.  But a recent photo challenge promoted me think about “Nature”  and my place in it, and after thinking about it on and off for the past week or so, I  think that a little of what country means for the first people of Australia, is what I mean when I think of nature.

Like my mother, I didn’t always feel I had a strong allegiance to the nation of Australia (distrusting all forms of jingoism, and the forced sense of camaraderie inherent in the cosy notion of mateship and nationalistic fervour).  But unlike her, no matter where I was, where I was living,  a visceral attachment – like an umbilical cord – kept me connected to that piece of this Earth from which I came, to its scarce and denuded soils, its prehistoric rocks and ravaged mountain ranges, its trees and “The Animals Noah Forgot”.  And, like a child who jealously guards everything it perceives to be its own, I have noticed a vigilance on Australia’s behalf – I mean the land, that squashy shaped continent that rides the waves between Antarctica and Asia –  only half acknowledging a love so deep that the only way I can describe it is protectiveness.

Now, I have been aware of this attachment, this protective impulse, for a long time, because I have been feeling its pull on me since I can remember.  But beyond this sense of  place, the competition challenged me to question what I really mean when I think of  nature.  I don’t think I have ever consciously tried to formulate a definition before – you know, it’s our environment, and I’m a good citizen of the world, I don’t litter, I turn off lights, walk when I can, I support the Greens, you know, nature.  For the competition I came up with some facile distinction between animate and inanimate and would probably have left it at that (because I’m not in the mood for introspection right now), except that a comment by orples (about what ‘man’ is doing to the environment), and Mothergrogan‘s  “that’s the end of that Journey” post (of a freshly felled tree), prompted me to concentrate a little, dig a little deeper.

A Chameleon's Eyes are Nature.

Call me a child of the ‘7os, call me a ‘tree hugger’, but what I realised was this:  to me, nature describes all that is –  every atom and every molecule, every particle of sand, every rock, every mountain, every stream, river or sea; every blade of grass, every flower, every tree;  the air we breathe:  everything that pertains to our planet – and beyond, because to me, nature also includes the Moon and the Sun, the tides, and the energy which fuelled life from the primordial soup, and the cycles which continue to support the life of every organism on our planet, and keep Earth in orbit around the Sun.

When a person asks you “what is nature” and you are told “everything” you might be sceptical.  But I’m one with my fellow countrymen – the original inhabitants of my piece of ground – who say “country is both a place of belonging and a way of believing”.  The only difference is in scope, and belief.  Just as our world was created through attrition and accumulation, one anomaly at a time (I’m sorry, but that’s what I believe),  I have to believe that we can begin to reverse the negative effects of our short but disruptive tenancy of our place in the universe.

I start with a definition, and end with a plea;  seems I feel protective of everything.

PS  If someone could just magically make me understand how to proclaim myself a Post A Day girl, I’m ready to give it a go …

22 thoughts on “Starting in the middle: N is for Nature

  1. You are a lovely writer. While I cannot be sure or unsure whether or not this caliber of post travels from your brain to fingers, in the similarly perfunctory way oxygen travels from nostrils to cells, one thing is clear: you write exceptionally well. I know; this was a post on Nature, and a beautiful post it is, but I had to compliment you first. Hopefully you do not mind. 🙂

    That photo of the chameleon is astounding. For a moment I simply stared at it, wondering how that eye might work; does it differentiate between colors, feel more so than “see” movement? It sounds terribly trite and esoteric, but I truly feel as if Nature is what we allow it to be. It is we humans that put thresholds and restraints on things such as an “ordinary” house plant.

    Lovely post!

    • Looking for the second half of your explanation of your battle with insomnia, I’ve just discovered your further comments on my nature post. I’m so glad you too were mesmerized by the eyes and wondered … My theory is I think I caught him blinking:).
      Now, the limits we put on things – couldn’t agree more. I think mostly we have a tendency to simplify, humanise and so things like nature, or God, if you will are diminished by being corralled within our framework of reality.

  2. Pingback: introspection, courage, and shame « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

  3. I agree with your definition of nature…it is everything that surrounds us. As to how to become a Post A Day gal…just start adding that tag to your posts. I know there is a widget out there somewhere that you can put in your sidebar if you choose.

  4. A very interesting and well written post, and all just starting from the letter N.

    If I see ‘nature’ I see it’s beauty in everything from the blue of the sky, to the mesmerizing sound of water rolling over a pebbled beach, to the taste of fresh beets pulled from the ground. If I think ‘nature’, I think of the fragile eco systems; if I feel nature, I feel fear, fear for all that we have done and are doing to our surroundings, fear that we will not be able to reverse it in time.

  5. Fantastic photo, and a thought-provoking post. I think you’re right that nature has to include everything. Especially when you think about how we came to be here; we’re all made of stars, every atom that makes our being and the world around us was born out of exploding stars, and that’s something which blows my tiny mind if I focus too much on it.

    • I have to believe Madhu because the alternative is unthinkable (for our species, and pretty well all the others existing here today), and, on a good day, I can see that our leaders are coming to understand that too. Whether they will have the courage to force us, and future generations, to make the changes that will begin this reversal is really a matter of economics at this stage. Maybe, just maybe, things are almost bad enough in our industrialised west that a few more ounces of pain won’t be such a big deal.

  6. Wonderful! Count me in as a nature lover, using your definition of nature.

    There also seems to be something in the theme you’re writing about having to do with that sometimes mysterious idea of “home”. Maybe “home” is a better word than “country” for what you are getting at?

    I’m tripped up by the ideas associated with the terms “country” and “nation”, whereby I sometimes have a hard time identifying the difference between a so-called, self-declared patriot and a fan of a particular sports team.

    • Oh dear, FB, sorry if I’ve not made the distinction between nationalism and “country” clear.

      Country (which I italicised to try to make this distinction) must be seen in the context of this post as the Australian Aboriginal concept, which very simply put, is about the physical mountains and rivers, etc., and about their spiritual roots

      ” Our story is in the land it is written in those sacred places.
      My children will look after those places, that’s the law. ”

      I had hoped the link I made might clarify, expand on this – does it? Almost 3 in the morning, can barely see the screen, let alone know if I’m making sense.

      But I’m glad I won you over as a nature lover!

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