Friday, November 19, 2021

Six Books on Our Relationship with Nature

Recently I've been interested in reading about the relationship we can develop with nature--or should I write that with a capital, Nature? What I've discovered is that most of the books I've run across that I want to read are not at my local public library because they are not heavy hitters in terms of sales. Kindle has become the go-to purchase choice for me, and it's pretty convenient, I must say. Here are some of the books I've purchased that I've either read or are on my winter reading list. As you'll see, they represent a broad perspective of how people, and specifically how I, can interact with the natural world. 

Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm

Author, Isabella Tree. I was surprised to discover that this book is heavily researched and documented, so a lot of background information is provided and also support for the concept of allowing nature to coordinate how a piece of land is "managed" for best ecological results. It really is an eye-opener and also provided me with hope. On Knepp Castle Estate, an ancient, English estate, Isabella Tree and her husband (the inheritor) decide to "re-wild" the land. Their ecological, social, and legal journey includes the return of weeds and trash brush, the introduction of wild cattle and hogs, and the return of many birds that are in danger of extinction in Britain. It's a fascinating read.

Of the books I've purchased, Wilding is the only one I've completely read so far. The others I'm reading a bit at a time. In fact, the next four I'm reading concurrently, as my mood dictates. I'll read a bit in one and then another.

One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness: Simple Answers to the Big Questions in Life

Author, Tony Nader. Dr. Nader is the head of the organization that teaches the Transcendental Meditation technique. He was taught and appointed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who introduced the meditation technique and the Vedic understanding of the nature and range of consciousness to the Western world over sixty years ago. Because Dr. Nader is a medical doctor and researcher, he provides a comprehensive look at the relationship of consciousness, reality, the world, and ourselves. He connects Vedic wisdom and the historical and most current scientific understanding of what existence is and how human consciousness interacts with reality. His basic premise is that everything is consciousness, and his development of this concept from both Vedic and scientific perspectives is comprehensive. One of the most interesting results of reading this book is the discovery that our everyday understanding of our relationship with the world is quite limited (and probably outdated); even science has a much more expanded and "cosmic" perspective of how we perceive the world. 

House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest

Author, Craig Childs. One of my personal goals is to make the journey to the American Southwest with my Airstream Basecamp trailer and spend time exploring the ancient cultures of the Anasazi. And, by the way, this book House of Rain has informed me that the word Anasazi is not the preferred term any longer; meaning "ancient enemy" in Navajo, the indigenous peoples of the Southwest preferably to not choose to refer to their ancestors as enemies. “Ancestral Pueblo” or “Ancestral Puebloan" are preferred terms. This book combines the author's personal experiences with his explorations of the ruins and his research of these ancient cultures. What has touched me most so far in my reading is how the construction of the cliff dwellings was so intimately connected to nature--the seasons and the path of the sun, the topography of the land and the situating of the buildings. There is an alignment with nature. This is something that is certainly not common in modern building and community planning.

The Transcendentalists and Their World

Author, Robert A. Gross. Forty years ago, Robert Gross published The Minutemen and Their World, an academic study of the Minutemen of Concord, Massachusetts, and their community. It's been reissued, and Gross has also published now a look at the Transcendentalists and how they lived and interacted in their community at Concord. I've started reading this and am excited to discover how such a profound and individual vision of personal freedom and spirituality as Transcendentalism bubbled up at Concord. From what I've read so far, the citizens of Concord, for instance, looked at our dear Henry David Thoreau with a mixture of pride, awe, and quite a bit of puzzled head-scratching. I'm looking forward to a more complete understanding of the cultural milieu that produced this world perspective.

Nature, Love Medicine: Essays on Wildness and Wellness

Editor, Thomas Lowe Fleischner. This book of essays focuses on the theme that if we find a way to integrate with nature, then we become more integrated, healthy, dynamic individuals and communities. From what I've read so far, the essays include a mixture of personal experience and scientific and medical understanding of the benefits of getting outside and developing a connection with the natural world. Not only are the effects on individuals in nature explored but also how communities benefit when local governments consciously include green zones and such in city planning. One essay I read included medical and crime statistics. Because this book includes a collection of authors, it provides multiple perspectives of why we should get out in nature as a regular part of our daily routines. According to my Kindle app, I've only read 13% of this anthology, so I've got some good reading and reflecting ahead for this winter season.

Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life 

Author, George Monbiot. I've only read three percent of this book so far, but I'm looking forward to engaging with the content. Monbiot is an environmentalist who has written quite a few books about how humankind are devastating our planet. This book provides an optimistic note that the natural world can regenerate if provided a fair chance by humanity. The book blurb explains: "An optimistic approach to environmentalism that focuses on the wonders of rewilding, not just the terrifying consequences of climate change." The author shares with us a vision of "how, by inviting nature back into our lives, we can simultaneously cure our 'ecological boredom' and begin repairing centuries of environmental damage. Monbiot takes readers on an enchanting journey around the world to explore ecosystems that have been 'rewilded': freed from human intervention and allowed—in some cases for the first time in millennia—to resume their natural ecological processes." I'm looking forward to reading this book.

As you can see, I'm currently reading books about making a connection with nature, both inner and outer nature--as if there's any difference. Yes, I realize it's somewhat ironic that I'm connecting with nature via the medium of ebooks and the Kindle, but I do feel that we can find a way to combine our technological advances with living in harmony with nature. These books provide me with hope and also current, pertinent information on how to live a connected life with and within our world. Good reading to everyone, and perhaps your winter reading will include one or more of these books.

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