by Lauren Ross, MNA Communications & Events Coordinator
One of my favorite ways to experience nature is to stand on the shore of Lake Superior in a winter storm, the gales blowing hard, waves crashing through the ice walls that they created in a previous storm, snow obscuring the landscape and much of the horizon. It is truly a most amazing experience, but when I tell people that I enjoy feeling this raw power of nature, I can see in their eyes that they do not understand. So, let me explain…
When we describe people as wild, we imagine chaos – a shirt buttoned askew, hair unkempt and unruly. And in nature’s wild, we see something similar though we do not apply the same judgment. In nature’s wild there is order, there is reason, whether or not we are able to comprehend it. The fresh green leaves and grass of summer are easy to appreciate, but it takes a special kind of observation to appreciate nature on a gloomy and overcast day.
In the fall and winter months, nature’s wild looks a bit like a human’s – the bare webs of tree branches outstretched like staticky-electric hair, wilting grasses like a pile of dirty laundry that didn’t quite make it to the hamper. During this time, we can see a side of nature that is ‘uncurated’ and perfectly imperfect. The wild that I experience on that windswept and icy shoreline is a powerful reminder that I am, with all of my imperfections, part of this wild nature, and I thoroughly enjoy feeling it push back as I lean into each gust.
The special places that MNA protects as Nature Sanctuaries across the state are protected because someone at some point in time connected with that particular place, either because of its beautiful native species or the incredible rarity of its landscape. Nature inspires us to think outside ourselves, beyond our daily needs and struggles, and makes us feel connected to the earth.
You may still think that my enjoyment of a winter storm on an icy beach is a bit unorthodox, but I hope that the message resonates with you. In whatever way you enjoy wildness in nature, whether that be a hike through the forest on a warm sunny day (without any bugs), or a native pollinator garden in your community, know that these places are as much a part of us as we are of them. And in order for others to enjoy them as we do now, they need our care and protection.
This #GivingTuesday, as you consider your charitable options, please consider giving to the Michigan Nature Association – and know that your gift may be helping to protect a ‘wild’ natural place that inspires someone now and in the future. Donate today at michigannature.org