I Did Not Know

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When I was a child, I did not know how much I loved the world.

I did not know how much I loved the sweet scent of lilac as I roller-skated around and around the block, past our neighbor’s hedge again and again.

I did not know how much I loved the way the sun made the quilt hot, as I lay on it eating grapes on lazy summer afternoons.

I did not know how much I loved making the snapdragons in our neighbor’s garden ‘talk.’

I did not know how much I loved the early morning chorus of meadowlarks, as they perched on phone wires near our house.

I did not know how much I loved watching maple seed helicopters twirl perfectly around and around as they fell to the ground.

All these things, and so many more, I took for granted.  Does a fish love the water that makes its life possible?

Because the natural world was always there, whether I was paying attention or not, I could afford to be careless in my love, to enjoy these wonders thoughtlessly, when I wasn’t doing something else.

Now that I am 60 years old, there is nothing careless about my love for the natural world.  I love it deeply, fiercely.  With each passing year, it seems, my heart opens more.  I notice more.  I love more. For example, I have recently been overtaken by an intense love for birds.  I listen.  I watch.  I marvel.  How I love them!

And I worry about them.  No matter how much joy and delight I take in the natural world around me, there always lurks the painful knowledge that the planet’s well-being–and ours as well–is ebbing away.  So much of what I love is being lost.

I sometimes wonder if I would love nature so much if the facts of global warming, habitat destruction, and the fouling of water and air did not exist.  Would I continue in my childlike, careless enjoyment of the earth as my playground?  Or would I love it as deeply, as achingly as I do now?

The answer is unknowable.

But what I do know is that my ability to love the world around me is deepening with age.  Maybe when I am 80, I will realize that I love the earth more than I did at 60.  Time will tell.–April Moore





19 Responses to “I Did Not Know”

  1. Diane Says:

    How wonderful. Love to you, April

  2. Gail s Says:

    It is no coincidence that you fulfill your name. The month almost more than other ones when the earth unfolds and shares warm love. Time, in it’s unique way, declares twenty years to be short or long. But knowledge of truth comes along with it as we live it. I’d say without a doubt you will know more to love in 20 years. P.S. you missed the smells after a rain on a hot day and the fun of being on your elbow looking for four leaf clover. Thanks April!

  3. Kent Says:

    I love the birds as well. Up here on the ridge there are so many varieties it’s hard to say which one is my favorite. The cedar waxwings I think are the most beautiful, but the pitiful little cries of a goldfinch asking me to feed it put them in a special place as well. The nuthatches always make me chuckle, so maybe they should be my favorite, but I’d be so very disappointed if the tiny fighter pilot hummingbirds didn’t come to my feeders each year. Even the crows and the vultures have a special place. Oh, and when the peregrine falcons come around and send everyone into a scurry it’s quite a sight! Which one is my favorite…. I think them all.

  4. leslie Says:

    This is a lovely meditation, April, and I know how deeply heartfelt it is. I, too, feel more closely connected than ever to the natural world: more appreciative of changes of season, more observant of subtle shifts of light, more enthralled with the living water I am surrounded by – and more dependent on it for solace and spiritual nourishment.

  5. Joan Brundage Says:

    Beautiful, April! I can really relate ti your feelings—-and some of your experiences as I grew up on the east coast near a forest that was my magic healing place . I, too, share you sorrow and concern about the future of our beautiful planet earth.

  6. Elizabeth Scott Says:

    April– I love this!! You have a knack for expressing things that are in my head, but down too deep for me to express them. Thank you again for sharing.

  7. Elizabeth Cottrell Says:

    This is a lovely and moving reflection, April, and I believe you speak for many.

    As I have recently been exploring and sharing ways to strengthen one’s connection to Nature, I have realized that we can’t love something we don’t know. Becoming more aware, more observant, and more appreciative of the natural world around us is what strengthens that connection and deepens our love.

  8. James Blake Says:

    To love the offshoots of the natural world is a natural thing and as the world changes – for it must, the process is inevitable (change) – nothing stays the same forever – and hopefully, your descendents will feel the same way, for there is comfort in this. Many millions of years ago, the natural world was a differnt place; much more lush in foliage and animal life – beyond comprehension, actually, but that is all gone, and this world will vanish as well; both plant and animal. How will the natural world of the future present itself to us, a more advanced civilized people, aided by breathtaking technologies, easing our lives and increasing our capacity to perceive beauty as never before: I really can`t say for sure except to proclaim, that everything will be better for mankind and the natural world.

  9. Ed Schmookler Says:

    Me too.

    Love the piece.

  10. Judy Says:

    April, this is achingly beautiful. I think you always knew, but in a different world and a different way. And it is my fervent hope and prayer that the natural world will still be here to elicit your wonder when you are 80. Many blessings to you.

  11. Joan Kelly Says:

    Thank you, April, for the ability to express beauty simply and fully.

  12. Bridget Kelley-Dearing Says:

    Love it April. Enjoyed meeting you today in Lexington.

  13. Todd Says:

    Hi April, A lovely meditation. I’m just returned from 4 days on the Bay – out of touch with the internet and our baby birds at Cornell. I am eager for the dawn to see how they have grown. The many creeks and shallows of the Eastern Shore are lovely in their own beautiful way. Namaste, Todd

  14. Chris Bolgiano Says:

    To paraphrase Aldo Leopold in one of his Sand County essays, those who have an ecological conscience must learn to live “in a world of wounds.” I think you have discovered exactly what that means. I feel your pain, April, and it never lets up, because each time i am thrilled to see Wilson’s or bay-breasted or black-throated green warblers passing through my woods, i wonder if they will have a place to breed this year or a winter refuge in a few months. My world, though always beautiful, is much dimmed by such thoughts.

  15. april Says:

    I am touched by the volume of appreciative comments on my “I Did Not Know” piece. Thank you all for writing.

    And Chris, I was not familiar with that comment by Aldo Leopold about “learning to live in a world of wounds.” It feels so apt.

    It somehow helps to know that I am not alone in the pain that is always with me when I am also experiencing joy in the natural world.

  16. April Says:

    My friend Monika has emailed me the following comment to post:

    When I was four years old, I was sent to spend two years with friends of my parents outside the big city where we lived. It was a sad time for my family because my father was dying of tuberculosis, but at the same time it was a wonderful way for me to learn to love nature close-up. Our friends had a dog, a cat, chickens, rabbits, and a wonderful vegetable garden. We watered it from a pump in the back yard. I went to a nearby meadow to harvest the freshest dandelions for the rabbits and I helped search in the woods for mushrooms and nuts from the tall beech trees. But my favorite daily activity was spreading out my blanket in the back yard every afternoon. As soon as I closed my eyes, my other senses were activated. I smelled the fresh grass, tried to identify the bouquet of flowers, felt the light breeze of the wind and listened with great pleasure to the birds and the bees. What an innocent time – so much richer than city life.
    Thank you for bringing back the memories . . .
    Monika K.=

  17. Mary Ann Says:

    This breaks my heart wide open, especially today. Opening this post, seeing that peaceful stand of trees, at home and at ease in the forest in their green and stately splendor…reading those tender words of love of Nature from a 60 year old, reading all the lovely comments above mine… I so identify with every line (I am 53). But it is also bittersweet for me to look at the picture, read the blog tho, especially today. As I write this the loggers grinding machine is tearing into acres of virgin pine timber within a stone’s throw from my home. They have only been here 3 days, due for at least 7 – 10 more days — and already have eaten through many acres with their relentless crunching, monstrous machines… A pine that took 15 – 30 years to grow is plucked or sawn down within mere seconds. There HAS to be another way. Why aren’t they looking more at using faster growing bamboo for these purposes? The first night of the cutting I smelled the glorious pine sap scent — and could only think “that is the trees’ life-blood I smell. They’re crying out for mercy, and there is none to be found at this moment for them”. The second night I braved a look at the gaping devastation after the men had shut the roaring equipment down and left — I was graced with the gift of seeing one flaming red of a cardinal’s crown, who had flown down into some of the remaining green branches on the ground that had not yet been sacrificed to the insatiable chipping machine. Perhaps some sign of hope, then — if not for this moment, for the future???

    The bitter irony is my brother-in-law was a logger himself until a few years ago.

    Thank the other posters for the Aldo Leopold quote, also. Never was a more apt quote for me and this mourning period which will go on for quite some time, I am certain. I do not know you all, but I feel the embrace of kindred souls right now who will well UNDERSTAND what I am feeling, and that is worth much comfort. I especially thank you, April for your beautiful thoughts…

    I hope that soon the undergrowth sprouts forth and the volunteer pines reseed themselves to cover the ugly scars left behind. And that the beautiful birdsong returns once more to these beloved pines. Blessings to all of you who are Friends of our Earth!

  18. Livvie Mellan Shapiro Says:

    Dear April,
    This was so beautiful, and so beautifully written. I found it truly inspirational. Thanks so much for sharing your heart and your perceptions with us.

  19. Mitchell Dormont Says:

    That is a marvelous poem, meditation.
    I, too. love nature, have been a birder for 30 years, now, in fact. And, a gardener for about 40, combine the two, in gardening for hummingbirds, and butterflies.
    Thanks.

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