Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Nature's Gifts

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I like a well-ordered, even minimalist image as much as the next guy, but I also like the rumble-tumble of the bumble-scrumble—nature in all her random mathematical chaos. Especially when the image includes flowing water and rocks being colonized by moss.  

I also liked the jaggy emerald forest of the moss and ferns contrasted with the smooth softness of supple water and solid stone.

Back in the dry months I used to enjoy sitting as still as possible on these rocks where I'd face downstream into a spacious glade created by the high canopy of trees. There was a small pool of water that survived at the base of the dry rocks, and birds would land practically at my feet to drink and bathe. 

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Once again I wasn't finding any large fleshy fungi, just little fellas like this weather-worn trio of (I believe) Mycena maculata. After taking a series of photos to be stitched into this single image later on, I reflected on the fact that the forest is my hunting ground, but the quarry is aesthetic sustenance. I get virtually all my food, clothing and shelter through our system of worldwide industrial trade, and I spend almost all my time in a man-made landscape. The aesthetic sustenance I get from my too-brief excursions into nature is much more substantial than simply acquiring a photograph.

Which reminds me that shinrin-yoku, or Japanese forest bathing, is having a moment. I even saw a book about it on the "new non-fiction" shelves at Green Apple the other day. It's hypothesized that the molecules floating in the forest atmosphere have a beneficial effect on us, and savvy marketers will gladly sell us a bottle of essential oils to bring some of forest bathing's benefits into our own home.

Shinrin-yoku is another "ecosystem service" provided freely by nature. Gifts such as clean air and fresh water literally make our lives possible, and our lives are degraded in proportion to how much we degrade those gifts.

Nature is the gift-giver par excellence, the substrate of everything we are and the original giver of life to our small blue planet, our twirling mote in the immensity of space. Nature says Merry Christmas to us every day. 

Here's hoping we learn, very soon, to take better care of what she gives us.

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