Getting Along With Nature

07/08/2013 § 3 Comments

By: Stone Irr, Green Event and Local Food Sourcing at the IMU

Sun, sweat, and trees. These three words have described just a few of my weekend activities while staying here in Bloomington this summer. I recently started making an effort to go hiking with some friends of mine this summer and have immensely enjoyed the experience. I’ve had the opportunity to climb off-the-trail hillsides at McCormick’s Creek State Park, swim in Lake Monroe outside of Brown County State Park, explore Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve by boardwalk and “almost” get lost hiking at Yellowwood State Forest.

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Beanblossom Bottoms–Part of the Sycamore Land Trust

Due to the grandeur and lushness of any untouched, outdoor environment, one can easily identify these journeys into nature as a means to “get away” from our professional, work, and academic lives. But what exactly are we “getting away from”? How do we describe the area where we fulfill such an objective? Here we find ourselves separating the “wild” from the “domestic.”

In creating separate domains, we create separate problems, priorities, and opportunities of fulfillment. The “wild” and the “domestic” become disassociated from one other—paying little attention to how actions in one realm may affect the other. We must be aware that choices have consequences whether we see them or not. Actions taken in one domain may have a significant impact on another.

Nature, or the “wild,” must be cared for and appreciated while keeping our “domestic” domain in mind, and vice versa. These places must be viewed as interconnected. Author and environmentalist Wendell Berry asserts that building and sustaining “continuity between the wild and the domestic” is necessary.

Since most of us don’t live “off the grid” on some plot of land in Southern Indiana, one way to view the relationship between these two domains is to simply place ourselves within the “wild.” When connecting with the wild, we can then refresh our perspective on the domestic. In my experience, taking on this perspective makes me more sympathetic. I begin to take into consideration how the actions I commit in my domestic life affect wildlife.

I could list off facts about environmental destruction, like how one ton of paper requires twenty-four trees to make. I could tell you the story of subsidized corn, which not only ends up slowly disintegrating our soil through mono-crop methods but also upsets our diets through its augmented manifestation present in many of our cheap, unhealthy foods. I could also describe industrialization’s impact on global temperatures, which has created a perilous situation in which investing in alternative energy is not simply a noble idea, but is necessary for survival. But these facts won’t make a difference to us if we don’t know what is at stake.

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To find out what is at stake—go outside. Look around and explore the majesty of nature. Observe the perfect earthly model of growth, regeneration, and resilience. Understand the land is not ours to take—it is a gift to be cherished. We must tend the land and must not take advantage of it, nor take it for granted.

This reconnection with nature should cause us to reconsider our habits: to reconsider driving your car to work alone as opposed to biking or carpooling; to reconsider buying a pallet of water bottles as opposed to drinking or filtering tap water; or to reconsider unknowingly sending trash to the landfill as opposed to recycling or composting. All of these actions hold some measurable effect upon the earth. Although we may not see the direct effect, the earth and its inhabitants will feel the effect.

Here are some beautiful places to visit around the Bloomington area:

McCormick’s Creek State Park—Located East of Spencer, IN (26 minutes)

Brown County State Park—Located Southeast of Nashville, IN (30 minutes)

Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve—Located Northeast of Ellettsville, IN (23 minutes)

Yellowwood State Park—Located West of Nashville, IN (25 minutes)

Sources and Further Readings:

Berry, Wendell. “Getting Along with Nature,” Home Economics.

Berry, Wendell. “No Technological Fix to Climate Change,” The Courier-Journal.

.. And, why not this video? (Since I previously mentioned bottled water)

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§ 3 Responses to Getting Along With Nature

  • Nikki Wooten says:

    Thanks for sharing, Stone. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Southern Indiana, and you’ve given me a convenient list to conquer in the remainder of the summer. Another idea for you is to go blueberry picking at Bray’s U-pick while they’re in season. A great, tasty outdoor experience.

  • I’m so glad you made it to Beanblossom! and I completely agree with you — we are perhaps the most destructive when we cut ourselves off from nature and fail to see how our “domestic” decisions affect the “natural” world, and vice versa. In a documentary I watched, one of the interviewers said that we need to stop viewing the world as humans and nature, but instead view the world as humans and THE REST OF nature. Funny how three extra words can make all the difference…

  • antaera says:

    Thanks for the wonderful links, Stone! I’m always looking for natural environments to visit and this certainly helps. As Nikki has stated, fruit picking is probably one of my favorite things to do – nothing quite like eating fruits you’ve picked!

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