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Elegance in the Rough: Thoughts on Revisiting Nature

Elegance in the Rough: Thoughts on Revisiting Nature
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Throughout various ages, and for innumerable reasons, people have returned to nature, the landscapes and fauna that endure our influence and thrive in our shadow. Everyone who ventures into this realm has reasons for the journey, perhaps a private longing for freedom or healing. Indeed, for each one of us, something personal yet universal awaits our discovery as we proceed. Are you ready? Let's continue.  

A jaunt through the pine trees of spring is refreshing, liberating the mind from routine thoughts. Something glorious unfolds before you, far away from the call of mundane experiences. Then, the moment passes and the obligations of life return. You've been refreshed, now get back into the SUV you just purchased and return to the rigors of life--check your phone as soon as service resumes.

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This time of revisiting can, however, become permanent if one chooses to relocate and live rustically. Increasingly, more and more people do this, routinely exploring meadows where a bear might interrupt the hour, or a mountain lion could remain hidden, stalking, waiting for a chance to snatch the family dog--or even a small child. I admire the courage of those who make the wilderness their permanent home.

And then, there are the deadly extremes of weather that often claim the unprepared. The list of perils is long. As I think of it, perhaps cautiously revisiting nature in the spring is my preference. Elegance in the rough can be an occasional pleasure, a bit of refreshment for those of us who love urban life. And yet, even a brief walk into nature can invite drama.

Robert Walser, Swiss novelist and "missing link between Heinrich von Kleist and Franz Kafka" comes to mind.

Remembered for his glorious prose, and fantastical journeys of the mind, Walser lived modestly and endured much, often refreshing himself with walks in nature. And on Christmas day in 1956, his body was discovered in the snow. He was 78.

When I first read Walser's biography, and learned about his passing, I was struck by the powerful images; the lonely figure expiring on a park bench in winter; the hat that fell from his head upon his collapse; the question of whether or not he was missed when he failed to return. Revisiting nature, and enjoying rustic elegance, reminds me of these images. There is indeed a sad beauty to consider.

What do we hope to find within nature? Are we prepared to expire within its expanses, perhaps falling prey to painful snows or unrelenting predators?

My own walk is coming to an end, and I press a bit deeper into the surrounding hills.

The pine trees and rustic homes of Sedona inspired me to enjoy this walk, to ponder, and plan for the future. More than anything, however, this elegance in the rough, this compelling landscape, reminds me of the artists who walk--and sometimes pass away quietly--in winter.

I press on a bit longer into the desert of early spring, feeling quite blessed, indeed.