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  • Martha Engeman

The Natural Way

It’s cooling down here in North Carolina after a long hot summer. I sit outside on an overcast fall day listening to the wind rustle the leaves and watching the leaves and pine needles start to turn and fall, blanketing the earth in shades of yellow, brown and rust. The last bursts of life are emerging from the earth as it starts to wind down for the well-deserved break of winter. It’s time to pause, reflect and give thanks for the beauty of nature, for the produce, and for the lessons in what works (and doesn’t work) in my garden.

If we let her, Nature can be a wonderful teacher and guidepost. At this time of year she seems to be encouraging us to take stock of all that we have created and experienced over the spring and summer in preparation for the quietude of winter. She also seems to be encouraging us to let go of whatever doesn’t serve us. The deciduous trees shed their leaves and focus on maintaining their stores of energy for the colder months. Similarly, we can shed what we don’t really need in our lives. What is superfluous? What items want to be discarded or find a new home? What do we really need and want?

If Nature were a friend of mine, I imagine her sitting on a big outside wooden swing saying, “Sit here with me and take in this beauty.” We would sit, side by side, swinging amicably and listen to the sounds, feel the air, watch the sky and wildlife, notice the smells and touch our bare feet on the earth. Perhaps we would each have a cup of warm tea. I imagine that we might speak, but only what really needed to be said. Otherwise, we would sit and observe, fully absorbed in the moment, fully present.

If Nature were a friend of my Granddaughter’s, I imagine they would run and play outside, while singing a special song. They would stop to touch the trees, squat down to see, smell and touch the flowers, and dig in the sandbox creating sand sculptures to knock down, because that is half of the fun.

If Nature were a friend of my dog Arty, she would generate an endless supply of sticks to be tossed and chewed and discarded, but mostly tossed for Arty to retrieve, over and over. Oh and there would be the occasional squirrel to chase, because that’s what dogs do.

If Nature were your friend, how would she show up? What would you do together?


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