Kissing the Earth: Landscape and my nephew
From: Kissing the Earth
August 23, 2012 at 04:54PM
My family and I just spent the last two weeks at my parents’ farm. We swam, ran on the trails (uphill!), played with goats, horses and chicks (the chicks are ours, by the way, and we brought them to the farm in a tupperware on my lap in the jam-packed car…ask me about THAT journey sometime!), and generally had a lovely, relaxing time.
My sister’s family lives across the street from the farm, so along with spending time with my folks, we also spent time with my niece and nephew. My nephew is a tough kid. He needs a lot of action; he seems to need to create a lot of action, and if he can’t find a positive long-term outlet for that need—like playing a game of baseball or cleaning out his guinea pig cage—he resorts to lots of little, needling actions. Things like pinching his sister or teasing his cousin or tripping his sister or taunting his cousin. You get the picture. His energy is frenetic. Quick, darting, in to do the job and out again so fast you hardly know what happened.
But…the one place where he is not craving that action…is out in the woods. I have spent the last two months working on an essay about the healing powers of being out in nature, and I got to see this process truly work with my nephew. Life imitating Art imitating Life. One morning he took me on a four-wheeler ride onto the trails behind his house. He wanted to show me a view he had recently found. On the way he slowed down to point out the many butterflies perched in the grass and flitting through the air. He slowed the four-wheeler down, yes, but he also slowed down his speech and his breathing (I was sitting behind him with my arms around his waist…I could actually feel this happen) and proceeded to explain butterfly migration to me. We continued on and entered a section of the trail that was lined with pine trees, and again he slowed down to try to articulate how magical the path felt, like the entrance to some fantastical land. And finally, when we got to the spot with the view, he stopped completely. We sat together. Quiet. Still. I don’t know what my nephew felt, of course, but I felt a sense of connection. To the land, and to him. I felt grounded in that connection. And thus calm. And I really wonder if he did too.