How Nature Inspires Us: A Collection of Blogs from Readers
While hiking in California some years ago, I found the most magnificent tree I’d ever seen—a redwood of such grandeur that I nearly fell over backward trying to see its highest boughs. As I came closer, the smell of its resins enveloped me, and when I ran my hand across the deep creases of its bark, it was almost like touching the face of an old friend. Caught by the tree’s magic, I lingered in that grove for the rest of the day. At sunset, I still wasn’t ready to leave.
I hadn’t expected to camp out and hadn’t brought a sleeping bag or food, but I stayed the night anyway. Snuggled against the ancient tree’s gnarled trunk, I listened to its swaying, creaking, and — I felt sure — breathing. Whether or not I slept that night, I don’t remember. But I do remember feeling an extraordinary sense of peace as I wondered what amazing stories this two-thousand-year-old tree could tell, what rich wisdom it could share. I knew I wanted to open myself to that voice and to travel through time with this awesome companion. That night sowed the seeds that eventually blossomed into The Ancient One.
What are some moments when nature inspired you?
Back in 2016, to celebrate the reissue of The Ancient One, I invited my readers to share their own stories of times they have been inspired by nature. These are their experiences of being dazzled by the marvels of nature—and inspired by its wonders.
How Nature Inspires Us: A Collection of Blogs from Readers
A Magical Nature Discovery
By Virginia Anagnos
I had just moved into a new neighborhood and was exploring it, when I noticed a fenced in area of trees that piqued my interest. I walked around the periphery until I came upon a sign that stated Oakland Lake. Skeptical, since the location was situated between a major road and parkway, I descended the stairs into the wooded area only to discover an oasis when I reached the bottom. The lake, which I soon discovered is a 15,000-year-old spring-fed glacial kettle pond, was surrounded by a forest of magnificent oak trees, beech trees, weeping willows and other tree species. It felt as if I was transported to another place.
The path around the lake meandered through forest, wetlands and open space. After a lap around the pond, I felt invigorated, but also calm and serene. Oakland Lake has since become my place of solace. I often go there to regain clarity, rejuvenate my spirit and recapture my sense of awe and wonder.
A Respite from the City
By Chelsey Saatkamp
Living in New York City, it can occasionally get depressing being surrounded by nothing but skyscrapers and dirty subways day after day. Luckily the city has a lot of parks scattered throughout, which are a lovely refuge whenever I can venture over to them. Central Park in particular is a wonder in the middle of the city, and even though you can see the skyscrapers surrounding its 843 acres, it’s is an essential refuge from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in New York. Reading a good book by the lake is an instant pick-me-up, better than any amount of food or sleep can provide.
By Joanne Fritz
After living in New York City for several years, surrounded by steel and glass and asphalt, cars and subways and people, I returned home to Pennsylvania in the middle of a long, cold winter. It was a difficult time; I was suffering from depression and had to find a new job, new apartment, new friends. Walking through the woods in early spring, I stepped over a fallen log and discovered, to my delight, these lovely bloodroot flowers. They looked fragile, yet had managed to push their way through layers of dead leaves in the search for warm sunlight. I didn’t even know what they were called then, but I felt such a kinship with them, I had to take a picture. I enlarged and framed it and the photo still inspires me from the wall of my office decades later.
Visit Joanne’s blog at mybrainonbooks.blogspot.com.
A Breath of Fresh Air
By Bob Meadows
If I ever gave any thought to “nature” as a kid, it was only as far as the crabapple tree I loved to climb in my Detroit backyard. My mother’s dad, however, grew up in and around Wheeling, West Virginia, a place of mountains and greenery that stretched beyond the limits of my vision. He hunted and fished and every year he and his five siblings gathered their families for a reunion in Oglebay Park, a Wheeling landmark. My cousins and I—all of us inner-city kids from Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago—tore through the park with the unfettered rambunctiousness of youth. We roamed the hills, swam, climbed trees, skipped rocks, and breathed a type of air—fresh—that we never experienced back home. The lazy pace came to bore us as teenagers, but that feeling passed long ago. Now that we all have our own kids, we eagerly return every summer to Oglebay, reminiscing about the havoc we once wrought and watching the new generations of our family embrace a way of life that big cities just can’t touch.
A Space of My Own
By David Wiley
Sometimes when I am looking to be inspired for my writing I take no iPod or headphones and just run outside, letting my mind wander through scenes coming next in my story. I have fleshed out five or six chapters in a single run before, and when I sat down over the following sessions I knew exactly what to write and in which order to write it all out. This is still a method that works well for me, as running outdoors is a solitary task that allows me the time and space to think about the things I need to consider. It also distracts my mind from considering the strain I am placing on my body, allowing me to go longer and press a little harder than I might have been able to otherwise. Something about being out there among the natural world is exactly what my mind needs to come up with a trove of ideas.
My other source of inspiration simply involves getting out into nature. Unplugging from the computers and televisions and cell phones and other technological devices can be refreshing. It is a reminder that there is a world of beauty around me that I can immerse myself in, taking in the sights and sounds and smells on a nice hike. Green leaves budding overhead, branches swaying in the breeze, bushes rustling as the wind gusts through it, and catching sight of wildlife are all the perfect backdrop for writing inspiration. Plus I have a pretty epic destination to hike to that is relatively close to home. Who wouldn’t be inspired by climbing up to Clark’s Tower, which is basically a miniature castle tower? As a fantasy author, it is a perfect hike even though it is certainly no substitute for the real thing. But in Iowa it is as close as I can get to visiting the real thing, and it is enough.
The best thing about going into nature is not just the fact that it is the perfect place to get writing inspiration, but it is also refreshing the body, mind, and soul to spend some time away from the bustle of life and the constant connectedness of technology. It is the perfect way to spend part of my day, and something I plan to instill in all of my children as they grow older.
David Wiley is an author and avid reader. Read more at authordavidwiley.wordpress.com.
Conserving our Forests
By Kelly Cundiff
Nature inspires me so much- that I work alongside Smokey Bear to keep our forests safe and make sure that people are educated about the outdoors and safety! The Ancient One is the book that fueled my love of Nature, specifically Oregon—which is where I work for the USDA Forest Service! My love of nature, whether it be educating people about it, or rafting the McKenzie River, or climbing South Sister, keeps me humble, centered, and allows me to breathe.
Tranquility of Nature
By April Steichen
Nature allows me to think peaceful thoughts. Seeing something so gentle and delicate calms me, making me smile. God created this, and this is perfect. Nature inspires me to create something magical with my passion: filmmaking. I am able to catch the smallest of details in nature that no one thinks to look twice at. I love smelling the fresh air, and seeing the flowers bloom in such detail. I feel warmth and passion while I’m in nature. It reminds me of reading. Reading helps us catch those small details that are easily passed up in everyday life.
The Healing Power of Nature
By Roshana Ostowari
Nature helps me connect to my true self. And what is my true self? Who am I? You see, my body might be 19, but how old am I really?
As old as stars, rolling waves and desert sand sifting gently through my fingers. As old as the trees, the yawning wind. Nature and I are one and the same. Therefore, being around nature helps me heal. It helps me shed my illusions, give up my pain. Nature shows me my true essence: pure unconditional love. A love that makes me smile with glee.
I am imagining now: digging my fingers into the dirt, smelling the raw scent of sand mixed with rain, running through the redwoods, looking up: An ocean of green. Chirping birds. I close my eyes. I am in heaven. Nature is my heaven, and I can find it within my heart.
Nature helps me heal. Shows me my true self.
Who am I? Nature.
By Maryam Karim
Beautiful winter. The healing power of snow.
A Dazzling Blossom
By Jerika McKeon
By Khephra Owl
Stone stairways smothered in moss fall from his fingertips on drops of ice water,
coagulating at his feet and reflecting the events of the day on his skin.
He is calm, the rain travelling in streaks across his forearms,
dripping off the tip of his nose,
creating dandelion-shaped stains in the front of his T-Shirt.
The sky is laid out as a sheet of liquid ash,
the evidence of the storm having parted
like the bead of an overripe blackberry.
Leaves cover the trail behind him,
bending into pointed curves,
The soles of his Converse puncture the wet earth,
leaving shallow marks,
lines, circles, stars,
and a design that looks like a frowning face,
as if it’s in pain
every time he steps on it.
But he keeps walking
to nowhere in particular —
maybe to a friend’s house,
his body gliding over tiny streams
and bloodied worms.
Only his window holds the peace that rain brings,
pounding against the glass
as indifferent fists,
existing solely to remind him of their presence,
drifting into the ink of his subdued subconscious,
allowing him to sink away from responsibility.
Bathed in Light
By Ro Ostawari
Light filters through the river in winter.
Whispers of the Earth
By Susan Hawthorne
The whisper of the surf caressing the shore calls to me in an ancient tongue, The grandeur of the towering oak shelters me from the storm, The majestic mountains stand like great guardians on the horizon and beckon me, The infinite stars, sparkling against a blanket of blackness, assure me there is more, so much more…
By Helena Reznikoff
Nature inspires me with its vast complexities and artistry. Something as simple as tree bark is a true artistic masterpiece and it all makes you realize how much beauty you are continuously entrenched in.
The Mountains Saved Me
By Rene Crook
My name is Rene, and I am 25 years old. I’ve recently moved back to beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado. Every day I walk out my front door and marvel at the beautiful peaks. Every sunrise, every sunset, all so breathtaking. You’d think seeing the same group of rocks every day would get old. But it’s really the same construction, painted differently every time you look at it.
So often I heard my friends talk about hiking up in the mountains, and I let my chronic illness hold me down. But I was introduced to this AMAZING woman who wouldn’t let that hold me down. A week later we were hiking up Mount Muscoco.
Me. Weak, scared little old me. Climbing a mountain. And suddenly, I didn’t feel so weak, anymore. I started dancing more, skating and bowling occasionally. I stopped cowering at many physical tasks I’d given up on. I laughed, climbed up rocks where the path had been washed out, and only wanted to go higher! Watching the sunrise spread across the mountains and color the city below was so inspiring. We went out so early the birds were still quiet, nestled down and sharing their warmth with their babies. Every step crunched and every step was me proving myself wrong. I could do this. And if I can climb mountains, what else can I do?
Those mountains didn’t only give me peace, but they awakened a strength in me I wasn’t sure existed, anymore. These mountains didn’t just inspire me. They saved me.
The Flexibility of Trees
By Joel Hoff
From a very early age I’ve held a fascination for nature. I was blessed with a family who loved to camp, hike, and travel as often as possible (finances and time allowing). Yet, it wasn’t until I was 12 years old, that that love for nature transformed into adoration and utmost respect. For, in my twelfth year I was honored with the privilege of checking out from my school library a book that has come to, in many ways, define the way I write, the way I think, the way I speak, and the way I have conducted myself over the last two decades (and more). That book was entitled, of course, The Lost Years of Merlin.
Even before Emrys begins his quest for truth, in the years he spent in Gwynedd, he values nature. Despite the vast scope of his journey to Fincayra in its entirety, and all that unfurls there, there is an event that takes place in chapter 3 that, when I read of its account, to this day continues to awe and inspire me.
Emrys, when fleeing the wrath of Dinatius, makes his way into a wooded grove. Fearing the older youth will quickly catch up to him, Emrys decides instead of continuing to run, he will make his way up the nearest tree. In doing so, Emrys escapes Dinatius (for the day). However, instead of climbing down, and heading back into the village, he decides to climb further up. I remember reading the account of Emrys’ deep thoughts as he sat within his perch, and his description of the beauty of his surroundings. I felt the same exhilaration as did young Emrys, as the higher he climbed, the higher my own spirit was lifted. Then came the rain and pummeling winds, sending even something as hardy and old as a tree a-sway… With a newfound and insatiable curiosity instilled in my twelve-year old heart, I knew this was something I just had to try it out for myself!
So it was, day after day I waited, looking to the skies for the perfect weather in which to ride out the storm. At long last there came an opportune moment, though once the thunder shook the earth, and radiant flashes of lightning lit the darkened skies every handful of minutes, I seriously began to rethink my plan. Nevertheless, I chose a tall pine as my perch and began to climb. Like Emrys, I climbed, and I climbed, and I continued to climb until at last I was as high as I could possibly (and safely) be. As the winds picked up, and blew against the tree’s trunk, I was absolutely amazed (and still am) at how incredibly flexible a tree could really be! Back and forth it vigorously swayed, giving me the unnerving feeling that I had to hang on tightly or suffer the consequences!
While the storm in Emrys’ case did eventually subside, my own storm lingered, forcing me to abandon my perch before I was met with any real danger. I remember walking inside, chilled to the bone and altogether soaked. But I was also refreshed and rejuvenated. There was something about a oneness with nature that was sensationally freeing, and it’s a feeling to this day I have not forgotten, nor do I think I ever could. I’ve been blessed with countless inspiring encounters with nature, for which I am thankful. But the moment when I, along with Emrys, rode out the storm so to speak, will remain the defining moment of my deep appreciation and love for something grandiose; something that is deserving of that appreciation and love.
Seeing the Impossible
By Paula Hardeman
The inspiration to see the impossible
By Laurie Rudolph-Francis
1973 Beautiful Neva River in Budapest
Calm After the Storm
By Jasmine Hinton
The Ancient One, which I read in the fifth grade, was the first long chapter book I ever read. It was also the first book I loved, and propelled me into the world of storytelling and appreciating the magic within the pages. When I look at the sunrises, the trees against the light, the wind singing in the evenings and splashing fishes in the lakes, I remember this book.
Nature is such a wonder and we should always care for this amazing planet and the creatures that live on it. This photo was taken after the storm Goliath stranded my family and I in Texas. We were finally on out way home in the evening the next day when we saw this wonder.
All Good Things are Wild and Free
By Med Stansfield
An Uplifted Spirit
By Pam Spicer
Winter hiking in the bosque along the Rio Grande in Rio Rancho, NM is so relaxing and spiritually uplifting!
The Healing Power of Nature
By Terra Mcbroom
PTSD is one of the hardest things I have ever had to manage. I am not a soldier of war, but I am a victim of sexual assault and physical abuse. We live in such a cruel society and mental health can cost a great deal of income. However, the pangs of anxiety and depression were excruciating. Being a mom of three put me in a fight or flight state of consciousness. I couldn’t expect my four year old to understand a panic attack. So I fought for normalcy instead of just giving up. Gradually, the symptoms grew worse and I was becoming a ticking time bomb.
Then, there was the camping trip we took, June of 2015. By this time I was a wreck and I felt that everything was hopeless. Until, the beautiful getaway of the Appalachian foothills. I remember the first sign of peace. My husband started to make his way around the mountainous winding roads and suddenly nature unveiled herself before me in all of her natural beauty. Hundreds of butterflies fluttered and darted from one colorful wildflower to the next. The mountains stood tall and mighty in the distance. My heart warmed and for the first time in months, years, I smiled. I felt all tingly and liberated.
We continued our trek up the mountain roads and found our campsite. Nature had imprinted itself on my soul and I couldn’t let it go. That night as the sun set, and dusk swept across the campground, I had a delightful surprise. The trees began to blink. Thousands of little blinking lights filled the trees. Fireflies were out, dancing and twinkling like stars in the sky. The show was more then I had ever seen before. Very real, but magical like a fairy tale. Suddenly, from the tips of my toes to the crown of my head, I felt a heavy weight lift. I imagined it being carried away by the fire flies that danced around me. An over whelming peace consumed me and i became over flowed with tears of joy. Nature was my cure. I felt a real connection, a sense of real security. It was so much more than a pill. Nature brought my sanity back and it was pure and true.
Lift Your Gaze to the Skies
By Ren Breaux
Lift your gaze to the skies
Starlight floods across vast unknown
Cradled within tranquil shadows
A single burning entity
Illuminated within darkness
Ancient beauty frozen in time
Caught in a seemingly endless spell
When echoes are all that remain
Evanescence of life
Joining the embrace of night
Diminished into legend
Destined to follow ancestral passage
Whispered tales of creation from sisters light
Imprinted within eternity
Nature is one of my comforts and whenever I am immersed in it (particularly forests) I am inspired to create poetry…The night, the stars and nature are linked to my soul as I believe that they are linked to each other.
By Therese Calegari
Sunrise over Lake Michigan in Hyde Park, Chicago. I half-expected Superman to emerge from an ice cave somewhere!
A Blessing of Butterflies
I was driving from Rockport TX on the gulf coast to Abilene TX in West Texas in early November a couple of years ago. I found myself driving into the monarch butterfly migration. The sky was full of them everywhere you looked. I drove for hours with them flying South all around me.
By Michelle Richardson
We live in the Pacific Northwest and are blessed with an abundance of beautiful trees!
The Enchantment of Nature
By Zanna Tarlow
I’ve been fascinated by animals for as long as I can remember. For a few years, I desperately wanted to be a vet. Between a crummy biology teacher and a lack of love for science, it didn’t quite work out. I am, however, a dog trainer.
Perhaps the most clear ties I have to my love of nature is through my love of mythology. After all, what is mythology but an explanation of how the world works? It’s quite romantic to believe the seasons turn because of an illicit love affair between gods and a heartbroken mother.
Image: Scott Kelly/NASA (CC-BY)
Of course, science shouldn’t be diminished. The scientific reality is often as mesmerizing as the stories of tricksters and weavers. To see Scott Kelly’s photographs of Earth’s landscapes from such a perspective left me as inspired as the myriad creation myths. While I live in an suburban/urban area, I’m lucky enough to be in Austin, where there is a wide variety of gardens, trails, and protected parks. The shelter I volunteer at is right across from a lakeside trail, and some days I take a dog down to the water so I can enjoy the view with canine company who needs the outing more than I do.
Personally, the enchantment of nature goes beyond lakes and trees, oceans and sunsets. It’s the curiosity of microscopic organisms. It’s recognizing how big the world beyond our world is. It’s appreciating the domestic canine as much as the tropical bird. It’s marveling at science and stories alike, and wondering at everything yet to be discovered in both.
My sincere thank you to everyone who shared their experiences with me! I hope you loved reading these thoughts about the healing power of nature, its ability to surprise, to awe, and of course, its beauty, as much as I did. And don’t forget, you can find more information about The Ancient One, as well as the other adventures of Kate, right here on my website.