Reading Loren Eiseley

Sometimes when I am working outside, I stop and observe the nature surrounding me.  Observe the beauty, the hardships and the wonder of it all.  Is not nature itself a miracle, is it not a piece of art built by years of hardships and chaos?  I am reading a book called “The Immense Journey” by Loren Eiseley.  Loren Eiseley was an anthropologist from Nebraska and like Henry David Thoreau before him had a deep love, appreciation and knowledge of nature and science.  For reasons unknown to me, the book causes me to reflect my encounters with nature in my childhood.  

I remember walking a half mile or so to a wash (dry creek) behind our house and playing for many hours.  I remember the roundness of the rock that lay in the wash bed, not perfectly smooth like river rock because it lacked the years of water constantly flowing over it.  But, smooth nonetheless.  I remember the large trees that followed the wash for miles, and the almost red soil that lined its edges.  The wash served as the trench when pretending to be a soldier, jumping over of the edge and charging the enemy.  Face down, army crawling with a gun cut out of plywood.  In the summer the soil felt warm in my hands and on my cheeks.  The gramma grass was short at the beginning of summer, and brown like it was in the winter time.  It never turned green or grew until after July when the rains came.  In the winter, the inner hunter gatherer would spark somewhere within me and I would track the herds of Elk, it was easy tracking in the snow.  My brothers were always good at spotting the large Bull Elk, me I didn’t think much of them.  

I swear life could go on for hours behind that house where I grew up.  Later in years, when I finally learned to ride a horse and stop being scared of them I discovered many more miles beyond the wash where I used to play.  Even at a younger age, I remember stopping when I was by myself and observing the nature that surrounded me.  Sometimes life stood still, and there was nothing but beauty of the grasses, weeds, trees, and the sound of a bird.  Other times it seemed that life was moving at a fast pace, a rabbit there, some birds over there, ants on the move, spider webs stretching between the trees.  While I still observe now and days in the rat race of life, the observance is not as long as it was in childhood days long gone, never to return.  But at least time is still taken.

During certain times in my life, I have debated whether nature was something that should be protected and whether the progress of man would somehow destroy this living earth.  As of now, I not only believe these ideas but, realize that man would destroy the earth in one blow if it was given the opportunity.  Not by wars but, by greed and our need for survival to feed the world and for some of us like me, to take more than what is needed.  As I travel through lands covered with interstates, county roads, in rural areas and near cities I am always disgusted with the amount of trash that is seen floating over the land that gives us life.  I cringe when I see the overgrazed pasture, the irrigation pivot watering corn in an area where corn should not be grown in the first place, and the bare soil caused by man’s quest for oil and alternative wind energy.

I know not the cure for our environmental ills, I know not exactly how this world came to be.  But if we believe it came by years of hardships, explosions, eruptions, giants roaming the earth, and evolution from animal to man.  Or by the caring specific directional hand of God, it makes no matter.  Why not protect the giver of life?  The place, we draw our water, the place where plants are grown so that we can eat and be clothed.  I am going to put a spin on the famous John F. Kennedy quote.  “Ask not what the earth can do for you, ask what you can do for the earth.”     



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