Abram and the sensuous world

October 31, 2018
spending too much time on the WEB... (that was a spider pun)

I have yet to allow myself to get close enough to nature, in the recent years to be able to experience such a sensation as the encounters with a multitude of spiders in the cave. I have formed a pre-conceived notion about such animals that allow me to remain at a distance and miss out on such experiences. I do not think I would be very comfortable in the presence of such animals and know my fight or flight instincts would kick in. When younger however, I have had similar experiences as my bias had not been fully formed yet. I remember picking up and playing with worms, roly-poly’s and insects of the sort. I remember making “salads” where big tree leaves would be lettuce and small bush leaves would be the peas. Sticks were utensils and dirt were the dressing. I remember climbing up trees and thinking I could see the whole world. I remember going to Kid Island with my friends and managing my own country, Terabithia, in the woods. I crossed logs that fell over rivers and caught frogs that jumped out of them. I felt connected with nature then. If you would have asked me the same question then, the answer would have been yes. I still have encounters with nature now. However, they tend to be less intense. For example, every day while walking to my 9 am class, I walk through an area with the most beautiful trees. The sun is shining at just the right angle as not to blind me but to let me gaze at its radiance. The air is as crisp as fresh linens. For a second, just for a second, it feels as though I am alone. Just the trees, the sun, and I and every-so-often the slight song of a bird.If our world wasn’t as attached to technology as we are, our relationship with the world around us would surely change. I can say that for myself, I would become more in touch with the sensuous world around me. The amount of time I spend with technology could be devoted to exploring nature and getting comfortable with my environment. 

The Wild Muir

October 2, 2018
How do geologists like to relax?

In rocking chairs, of course!

Muir takes on a more hands on experience with nature. His encounters are much more physical and active than the rest. The other authors appreciate and encounter nature, but not in the same way. They have a much more relaxed approach in nature as the walk, lay, saunter, or roam through it. Muir actually gets down and dirty with it. His first-hand experience is the most connected and involved. Muir is more adventurous, fearless and unapologetic with his stance on nature. He has fun with it while appreciating it. Muir is the most lively in his writings, with Whitman being a close second. His bold character and energy make his, an interesting read, and definitely not boring at all. He must have been an extremely strong man to have taken the risks he did and to have pulled someone up from a cliff. Cronon might have criticized Muir for idealizing nature and being to rash with his experiences. 

Muir is not all that relatable for me. His actions are far too extreme, and I do not have the ability nor the will to partake in them. The average man or woman could probably agree as well. He personifies different aspects of nature in his writing. This anthropomorphism of elements in nature lends to his efforts to relate nature to the readers. It creates a more artistic and personal connection between the writing and nature. You can see this in “all the rocks seemed talkative, and more telling and loveable than ever”. His describing the rocks as talkative makes the experience for personal as it leads us to believe that we are not alone in nature. With Muir, he is not just simply existing in nature, he is a part of it.

Direct Experience of the Natural World

October 2, 2018
Stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me..

Both Whitman and Bello in their poems, and Thoreau in his artice, emphasize the importance of having direct contact with nature. To them, there really is no other way to experience it at its full capacity. They write to appreciate nature in all its forms and urge readers to do the same. They especially encourage a close relationship with nature through interacting with it on a daily bases and having a firsthand experience with it. Through this, nature can have a personal impact on the individual. No one person can have the same exact encounter with nature and have it influence them in the same regard. Their texts urge humans to have personal experiences with nature and its non-human capacities. They argue that first hand experiences with nature aid to growth both morally and intellectually. Humans should branch out, get out of their homes, and come in contact with the non-human world that exists around them. There are many ways to benefit from having a personal experience with nature, they argue. These adventures in nature can lead to a sense of freedom and self-satisfaction as well as mental growth and understanding. Whitman has a more refreshing take on nature and human involvement with it. His experience with nature seems the most personal and the most moving. He, unlike Thoreau, does not heavily criticize those who are not like him. And unlike Bello, Whitman actually experiences the art he writes about instead of just viewing and appreciating it from afar. Whitman poems are like a breath of fresh air. He is able to enjoy nature on his own terms and in his own way, understanding that each individual has a different encounter with it. I also found his poems to be the most entertaining. It is evident that Whitman was writing way ahead of his time. His views on nature can still be relevant to generations in the future. 

Thoreau and Cronan: Walking Back to the Wrong Nature 

September 20, 2018
Walk it like I talk it... walk it, walk it like I talk it

Thoreau highlights the qualities of the wilderness through walking. He makes walking into an art form that requires one to abandon all other things in order to appreciate it at its full capacity, though only some actually have the luxury to do this. “If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again – if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man – then you are ready for a walk” (2). In order to be ready for a simple walk, Thoreau manufactured some not-so-simple requirements. He strongly insists that walking should be a daily part of a man’s day and condemns them for wasting their time with work and things of the sort. He judges those who don’t appreciate and participate in the art form of walking, disregarding the need for some people to work and provide for their families. When he walks, he is free. The wilderness is a place of refuge for him. For him, walking must be a slow and steady thing. “Moreover, you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking” (5). As he walks, he takes in the wilderness around him. He also makes walking an exclusive thing, that only belongs to a few pre-destined people. “It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers” (2). 

Thoreau and Cronan differ in their notion of what wilderness means. As Thoreau says “..what would become of us, if we walked only in our garden..?” (5), he continues the idealization of wilderness as a more distant place. Cronan on the other hand wrote about how there must be a new understanding of wilderness, and a new inclusivity of our very home as the wilderness as well. Thoreau appreciates the wilderness but only on the surface. He appreciates the ease of the wilderness that he is accustomed to but not its depths. To him, in order to be in the wild, he must leave his home even though the nature around his home can in fact be the wilderness as well. This is where he and Cronan variate in their definitions of wilderness. Thoreau does in fact demonstrate “stern loneliness” in his experience of wilderness. He very much so isolates himself from others in order to be “free”. He also criticizes others who are not like him, making his walking a very independent experience.

The Rappahannock River and I

September 4, 2018
 Why is a river an amazing roommate?

She just likes to go with the flow~~~

Saturday September 1st, 2018. That was my first encounter with the river. As I paddled up the Rappahannock in my single kayak, I examined the intricately simple design of the water. Everything seemed so chaotic yet peaceful at the same time. It was evident that mother nature followed no rules. She took hold of what was hers and did with it what she wanted. Every so often, when I wasn’t struggling with the paddles, I would take a moment to take in the scenery at around me. At first, I did not notice much but, as we continued to paddle on, the value of the river became so much clearer. Being fairly knew at kayaking, I tended to linger behind the rest of the group. This gave me a chance to have an individual experience with the wildlife around me. I spotted birds along the sides of the river, variations of rock formations, tree roots taking over whatever land was available, and insects dancing along the top of the river but never breaking its surface. I could see the surface tension of the water with each stride of a water skeeter. It was like the insect was being cautious as if not to upset mother nature’s balance.  After paddling for a while longer, we finally stopped and pulled our boats and boards unto a strip of muddy land. If we weren’t immersed in the river before, we sure were now. Taking a swim in the river was calming. The water was not too cold nor too hot. I floated on the river for a bit and that was when I fully saw, my favorite art aspect of nature..the sky. For as long as I can remember, I have always been in awe of the sky. Its constant movements, transitions, and attitudes. One second, it’s filled with warmth, birds, and an abundance of blue. The next, it becomes the polar opposite. It draws out so much emotion from men- fear, longing, joy, angst and contentment. The sky embodies rage and tranquility at the same time. We build, model, and schedule our days and lives around it. Around what time the sun rises and sets, around whether it is going to rain or snow, and around what phase of the moon will appear at night. The sky also serves as a constant reminder of my religious beliefs. Looking up at it made me admire the God I serve and his hand in creation. As unpredicatable as nature can be, of course it started raining. Raindrops filled my glasses. The water level slowly began to rise. Thunder was booming and lightning was striking every now and then. And it was time to get out of the water. You can never get too comfortable with nature because you never know what she is going to throw your way. We all huddled on the narrow strip of land she provided. Every so often we had to pull the paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes up so they wouldn’t float away. I and three other girls got under the canoe to remain as dry and warm as nature would allow us. This was it. The moment that we almost died. Just kidding. We had a pretend “Castaway” situation for aboput thirty minutes. We almost got rescued by a boat. False hope.. They drove away. After two cereal bar snacks, failed muddy yoga, and a performance from a three-man accapella group, enough time had passed for the rain to settle down. We took this chance to make a run for it, or a paddle for it. The trip back was definitly not as great as the trip there but it was still valuable. I saw the exact same forms of nature but in a different way. Things that were on my right were now on my left, and vice versa. I was more observant that time around as I had gotten a hang of the paddles. After about fifteen minues of intense paddling while still being soaked, we made it back to the dock.  

The Rappohannock. An expirience with nature I never will forget. 

The Trouble with Wilderness: Getting Back to the Wrong Nature by William Cronon

September 4, 2018
The ROOT of the problem

There is us. And then there is the wilderness. For so long, humanity has separated itself from this extreme. Capitalizing on the notion that the wilderness is distant and untouchable. Our need to control it betrays its very meaning. The wilderness is in fact all around us all the time. It is not about us and the wilderness, it is about us in the wilderness. I, like many others in society, felt a space between the wilderness and myself. Our connection with nature tends to thrive from a nonhuman connection as we set it apart from ourselves. We idealize nature and the wilderness in a sense that makes it remote and unapproachable. The wilderness and our desire for a relationship with it, has become a human creation. Rather than let the wilderness be in itself unique and tranquil, we force our own notions out of it. We yearn for an ideal function of nature to feed our emotions when it surrounds us every day. Cronon points out the flaw in our thinking about the wilderness. Society, including myself tend to overanalyze its true function. Our over analyzation can lead to the demise of the wilderness. My past notions of the wilderness have been restricted to what society deems appealing about it. We have confined the wilderness in a bubble that cannot contain it. In this way, the reading differs from my past notions about the wilderness. It sheds a light on humanity and its habits concerning the wilderness. Furthermore, it demonstrates the human produced wilderness that is in fact becoming contaminated with our preconceived notions. In this reading, Cronon holds a mirror to society and calls us to question our behaviors and thoughts regarding nature.