I’ve created several card decks but I didn’t feel ready to try a new style other than my Simple Pleasures deck today! I’m struggling with my emotions and wanted to experience something familiar and comfortable. The card I pulled helped me hone in on a sensory experience that reconnected me to nature and to myself.
I chose to focus on the texture of a leaf. The leaf I chose was freshly shorn from the tree, so it was soft rather than brittle. It felt almost paper-thin, especially at the edges. The part that was most pleasant to touch was the stem which was tapered, smooth and came to an abrupt end where it had left the branch. Held in the palm of my hand, the leaf felt nearly weightless.
As I’d written in past weeks, touch is one of two senses (along with vision) that brings me the most joy, and my interaction with a piece of nature provided that for me today. I cannot get over how many sensory experiences I leave only to looking, instead of fully engaging with them through all of my body’s capacities. What was the last natural object that left an impression on you? Which textures do you enjoy experiencing in nature?
Intimacy with nature need not involve a miles-long hike into the deep forest. Anything of the earth can provide a touchpoint that reconnects to our senses. With this in mind, for today’s simple pleasure, I took a walk to a local park to enjoy the start of the fall foliage.
I began my walk through my backyard which is filled with trees and bordered by a stream. I heard a rushing noise and thought it was odd that the stream was flowing with so much intensity on a bright, chill day. I finally perceived that the sound was instead being produced by the slightly-dry leaves rustling against each other in the birch trees. It is at once a gentle and a playful noise that I wish I listen to on repeat.
The scene then transitioned into viewing the stream which, as it enters the park, is filled with reeds. The grasses of the reeds are browning and mowed down, but a few solitary cattails stand proud. I was surprised to see insects and a bird hopping around as we had frost last night; the last breath of summer could still be heard.
After steering my dog past a distracting bunch of humans, I made my way to a park bench lodged underneath a tree. The shade the tree provided was cold, with an edge. I centered myself on my present awareness of my senses and my body’s response to those senses and felt soothed.
As I made my way home, the colors I saw seemed to radiate with a vibrancy I find only in fall. Green, red and blue seen in low humidity are crisp and energizing to me. I could make this walk a hundred times a year, but it is only when I direct my attention to my surroundings moment by moment that the inherent beauty of nature makes itself known. What was the most recent experience in nature you had? What impression did it leave on you?
I didn’t have to go far to find a plant in whose presence I wanted to meditate. I have a young maple tree, planted a few years ago, growing near my house. I observed it using both my vision and my tactile senses.
Its leaves are beginning to turn brown, perhaps from disease, heat stress or the coming fall. As I touched them, I realized that they still feel “alive” and waxy, rather than dry and rough as they will once they fully die. The mottled surface drew in my eye as the green fades into various shades of brown.
The tree as a whole reminds me of a lanky teenager. It seems to sprout up each passing day, growing in height much more quickly than in circumference. Its shadow is small enough that, to find shade beneath it, one would need to move around again and again. I wonder what that is, to be a few decades removed from my adolescence–do I now cast a wider shadow? Has the frame of my existence filled out? What replaces growth as season after season passes by? I’m on the cusp of beginning to crinkle and develop some age spots. The tree seems content in its inbetween-ness, can I find the same easiness of presence?
Where are you at in the growth-transition-dying cycle of life, either overall or in a specific area? What is drying up and what is staking out its place in the horizon?