“If you want to know the Pine go to the Pine.”
This simple phrase speaks volumes!
If I possess in my heart a desire to know the pine as well as other wildlife and wild spaces I’ve got to step outdoors, hit the trails, explore the mountains, valleys, marshes, and more. Books, articles, and web sites about wildlife and wild spaces are fantastic; but there is a deeper level of knowing that comes only from experience.
Yes, when we take the time to go and get acquainted with wildlife and wild spaces there is a knowing that happens through the use of all of our faculties; our minds, our hearts, our sight, smell, hearing, feeling, and yes, even our taste buds.
Speaking from my own experience and resonating with Basho; if you want to know the Eastern hemlock pine tree, go to it. Observe it's structure; take note of the mammals, birds, and insects that frequent its branches; Feel the strength of its trunk and branches; pluck a few fresh needles, smell them, and taste them. What a beautiful tree is the Eastern hemlock!
And anyone who has spent time with wildlife in wild spaces knows that those moments of getting to know the wildlife are also moments of intense self-discovery.
As I sit here at Ives Run Rec Area Campground next to the visitors parking lot, there is a gray squirrel watching me; and I do believe that as I become acquainted with the squirrel, the squirrel has something to teach me.
I can’t tell you how, I only know from experience that this is true.
I believe it has something to do with the Spirit of God in me recognizing the Spirit of God in another; in my wild neighbor. As the One Spirit of God who is the author of all life reconciles life with life in the knowing in my every experience of intense awareness of my wild neighbors and of myself my heart overflows with thankfulness!
If you want to know...then go. Make no excuses. Go to the pine, go to the scarlet tanager, go to the swamp milkweed, go to the mountains, go to the rivers, go to the marshes...go because the salvation of this good God-given earth depends on it!
Let us take time to know our wild neighbors until there is no more us and them, until we come to know ourselves as one species among many that all together are like a great kaleidoscope of life, and the awareness that none of us can truly be at peace until we all get there together becomes our collective awareness.