The following article was published in the September 2012 issue of the magazine, Green Hope!
The world thinks that the greatness of America lies in the urban architectural structures and the modern skyscrapers. But, what people fail to perceive is that the steel and concrete just make a quarter of America’s beauty. The true beauty lies in the pockets of this huge country, where you feel most close to nature. Right in the arms of nature, surrounded by lakes, springs and critters, is how the true American likes to live. And not that, this was before urbanization. The suburb I moved to, is one that was recently developed, and yet there are no signs of excessive urbanization. You wake up to the merry chirp of birds, you see squirrels run on your deck (balcony), and rabbits nibbling on to nuts that fell in your backyard. The feeling of being so close to nature, without making an effort is unimaginable. Living with nature enclosing your daily routine is a marvelous sensation and unequaled by any other.
Walking around the lake, through a wooded trail, makes you feel this is where authors got their inspiration from. And the beauty of it lies in the fact that every season ushers in something new. It is the saplings and signs of new life that catch your eye in spring, whereas it is the lively activity of birds that fills summer. Autumn brings with it the iridescent colors and the preparation of birds ready to migrate. And the reason I am being able to describe all this is because nature is conserved the way it was supposed to be cherished. The advantages of being so close to natural wonders are manifold, one being, the appreciation for other lifer forms and the recognition that we all actually share resources. One of the thing that amazes me is the fact that the ducks, the loons, the turtles, rather than being scared of human activity, roam around unthreatened at all times. And that is only possible because there are no humans actually shooing or scaring the birds away, but rather minding their own business and going about their respective activities.
It is so common to see a raccoon, an otter, or a stork during your walk, that the need or the desire to visit a zoo is eliminated. It is so comforting to know that both the animals and humans here are so comfortable with each other, that neither side feels the need to interrupt with each other’s routines. Being around other species is not only a lesson in science for kids, but also teaches them profound lessons in sensitivity and respect for god’s creations. And once that realization has set in, it is easier to mold responsible citizens who are cognizant of the perils human ignorance could cause to the survival of other species. With so many ill-effects like global warming, depletion of resources, etc., it is vital to create a generation that is more aware of the needs of today for a harmonious tomorrow.
Witnessing the native bird and animal population in India dwindle because of ingesting plastic or incorrectly disposed medicines is heart-breaking. And it is small efforts like those made here, in terms of recycling, that help the native fauna sustain. The beauty of simply walking across a paddling of ducks is one of life’s taciturn moments. In such moments, the ease with which one can reflect upon the basic commonalities across different life forms is amazing. It is so heartening to witness the culmination of so many fellow human beings on just one bridge over the lake. The lake, the prairie grass that serves as an abode for the rich fauna, is just the perfect sanctum for a piebald community. You see photographers, artists, poets, nature-lovers and athletes enjoying the same view in varied ways. And then there are others who are just there for the sanctity, to soak in the view with a loved one. No matter, the agenda, all of them there have found a source to unwind. Only someone who has experienced the peace and the vivacity of nature together can perceive the importance of treasuring such spots.
What is striking is the fact that it is so easy to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, with small steps from us. The first step would be for appropriate garbage disposal and recycling. Throwing unwanted materials in the woods or the water will only result in an imbalance in the ecosystem caused due to either increased or decreased levels of a certain animal or bird population. That, of course, depending on the toxicity of the waste to the species in consideration. Another conscious effort from us could be to leave the flora and fauna as untouched as possible. That doesn’t mean not being outdoors in fear of trampling the grass, but just the realization that when you try to tamper a bird’s nest or a turtle cove, it is like someone shaking the walls of your house. It is very important for all members in an ecological niche to feel secure, for them to want to reside there. Some other measures that could be taken are to plant as many trees, grow lawns and have greenery to encourage a healthy food chain. If it were not for the grassy patches outside our apartment, I would never have had the privilege of watching a herd of deer wander into the apartment system, that too in the beautiful white snow. It is spectacles like these that make you realize the importance of preserving the globe and it’s inhabitants in the purest form.
Imagine the beauty of a sunset with birds taking flight in the horizon, rather than just a plain sunset. Sometimes, all we need is a close conversation with nature to gain some perspective and it is but, what was meant to happen, before men came along and rearranged God’s scheme. It is said that one who loves nature, is never alone; and nothing else could be truer than that. I can only imagine what an effect a lack of landscape would have had on literature. Without the presence of awe-striking meadows, and mysterious woods, a William Wordsworth or Robert Frost could not have given the world, the mellifluous gems of their poetry. And there would be no inspiration to remind the world of “the miles to go before I sleep”. Indeed, we are surrounded by miles and miles of natural beauty, it is for us to open our minds and preserve the milieu to enjoy a mutual existence.