My home is flat-roofed late 1950’s rambler on a quarter acre corner lot in the town where I was born. Our yard is fully fenced with a large vegetable garden taking up most of the backyard. We share the land with three chickens and several thousand bees from my hives. We also share it with Lucy, the Western Grey Squirrel, Henry the Crow and his extended family, a noisy Rufus Hummingbird, a small hive of native bumblebees who live in a birdhouse, and numerous Black Capped Chickadees, Red- breasted Nuthatches, and Dark-eyed Juncos. We also have regular visits from a Northern Flicker, Blue Jays, and a Coopers Hawk who preys on the little birds at the feeders. We have opossum, raccoons and even an occasional coyote. Bald eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and Osprey are frequently seen soaring the thermals in a brilliant summer-blue sky.
I don’t live in the country, much to my regret. I live a block from a major highway. My night skies are lit with street lamps instead of stars. I watch jets take off from my kitchen window. I am surrounded by auto dealerships instead of the mountains I always dreamt I’d live in as an adult.
I long to garden without the ever-present backdrop of road noise and I deeply wish my nights were only lit by moonlight and stars. I want to live at the end of a dirt path in a cabin at the center of an open meadow surrounded by trees. I don’t want to see my neighbors. But, I also understand that this isn’t reasonable from a financial perspective, much less from a wilderness conservancy perspective. Moving to the country may put me closer to wilderness, but my very presence makes the “wild” less so.
I struggle with how to bridge the gap between what I see as my essential connection with nature and my desperate desire to make sure that I don’t love it to death. I am adjusting my viewpoint about what it means to be “in nature” by appreciating the “urban wild” around me. And while there is no real substitute for the peace of dangling my feet in a mountain stream, wandering through the acres of the county parks around me is a balm to my soul. In truth, any time spent with dirt under your feet and leaves overhead is time spent in Nature in one of her many guises. We must learn to slow down to notice and appreciate the common “wild,” as well as the idealized,rapidly disappearing free and wild one.
Robyn Lynn lives in the Seattle area and has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Her work has been seen in the Pitkin Review, Sugar Mule, Minerva Rising, Lumina, various American Cancer Society publications and on her blog at Robynlynnwriter.com