I need it. To feel small, even insignificant, in the face of nature’s works nourishes me. I seek that nourishment daily.
From my home at the base of the Sandia Mountains to the beautiful old Mabel Dodge Luhan House at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Taos, I drove for miles alongside the Rio Grande as the road climbed from Española into the gorge of the river that flows from a source high in Colorado’s Southern Rockies to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. It rippled over basalt boulders that had tumbled into its bed from the steep slopes above. Winter bare cottonwoods revealed their convoluted forms, another of nature’s graceful sculptures. Light glinted off the faces of boulders burnished with desert varnish. I imagined the music of the river, a constant murmur, overshadowed that day by the whoosh of the wind, whose gusts the soaring crows danced upon, riding waves of air. I could drive this stretch of road every day, and still it would inspire my awe.
That awe, the wonder of nature – from the minute gleam of an obsidian ‘Apache tear’ glimpsed on a trail to the mighty basalt cliffs that tower over the narrowest reaches of the Rio Grande Gorge – provides perspective that helps me handle the shock and awe (of a much different sort) that assails on a daily basis, reading the news of humans seemingly endless supply of inhumanity.
Nearly every day (yes, sometimes I forget), I walk in gratitude to live in places were nature is so reachable. I can touch the paper thin wisp of a seed pod. I can hear it rattle in the breeze. I can watch a lizard no bigger than my pinky finger scurry into the protective spines of a prickly pear’s paddles. I hear the coyotes’ howls echoing through arroyos, their pups’ yips and yaps new voices in nature’s song. But even in the city, there is birdsong, the rustle of bare trees’ branches in the wind, and the occasional passing of a coyote. Wherever I am, I can find it – awe – if I remember to look, to listen.
The next morning, I woke to the hush that blankets the landscape with even a dusting of snow. Always a blessing in the desert, this winter any moisture is a particular gift given the parched season we’ve had. I scooped up a handful, and as I lifted it to contemplate the intricacies of the delicate flakes, the sun peeked through a cloud break and shone over my shoulder. Nature’s wonder sparkled there, right in the palm of my hand.