“Falling in Love with Life,” June 1, 2021

Long ago, I fell in love with Nature. I was cradled from birth by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and grew up running barefoot, climbing trees and feeling free.

What’s not to love about that? Besides bee stings, chigger bites, sunburn and poison oak? Love affairs are seldom without flaws.

I don’t often run barefoot any more. But I still love to be out in Nature climbing mountains with my eyes, hearing waves crash on a beach or eating a hotdog in a ballpark at a Little League game.

My husband feels the same way. It’s one of the reasons I married him. It’s also why we moved to this valley.
Our house is small. Especially since one of us owns enough musical instruments to start his own orchestra. But for me, these mountains are heaven on earth.

Most evenings, we sit outside watching the sun go down and the moon rise up. I find it helps to end the day with thanks. I think I was born to love Nature. I suspect you were, too. But I’m not always sure how Nature feels about me.

Last week I came home after a month away helping my son and his wife and their 2-year-old welcome a beautiful baby girl. My husband picked me up at the train station, dragged my bags in the house and motioned me to follow him outside.

“You gotta see this,” he said, as we started down the steps to the patio. Suddenly he shouted a word that always sets off an air raid siren in my head: “Snake!”

I launched myself like a pole vaulter back into the house.

“It’s only a garter snake!” he said, trying to sound brave, “it’s not poisonous!”

In my book, a snake is a snake. Poisonous or not, if it can scare me to death, I’m just as dead.

The snake disappeared under the steps. We probably scared it to death. It might’ve been there all along without my knowing it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Jumping over the steps, I said, “What did you want me to see?”

He pointed to a patch of earth that was pockmarked like a paper target at a shooting range with holes the size of softballs.

“Gopher holes,” he said sadly. “One day I saw ‘em pull a whole flower down under the ground. I felt just like Elmer Fudd.”

He pointed to where a trap was set, ready and waiting.

“Great,” I said. “All we need is about 3,000 more traps.”

A day later, driving to town, I turned on the car’s fan to cool off and heard a bad sound.

“Oh, no,” I said, “not again!”

When I got home and told my husband, he went out to check under the car’s hood. Then he came back grim-faced and said, “You were right. It’s rats!”

We park our cars in a carport. This was the second time rats had nested in my car’s engine, and gotten caught in the fan. You’d think they would learn.

“You wanna see it?” he said.

“No!”

In a day or so, we’ll take my car once again to a mechanic who makes his living cleaning rats out of engines. We just hope he won’t find any chewed wires.

But today, we are happy to be hosting a barbecue for our family, those who live closeby, including four of our nine grandchildren and their parents. I made potato salad and overbaked a cake. My husband will grill burgers. We’ll eat on the patio because there isn’t room for all of us to eat inside.

We expected the weather to be lovely, but fog is rolling in thick as cotton from the coast. I told everyone to bundle up. We’ll make it work. We always do.

Snakes and rats and gophers and fog are minor problems with Nature, nothing like the wildfires we faced last summer and could face again. Nature is beautiful, but it can turn ugly.

Life is a lot like Nature. Some days it’s heaven on earth. Other days it can be a living hell.

I try to take them both as they come, believing they’re a gift, whatever they may bring.

That isn’t always easy. But day after day, I find myself falling in love with them all over again.

Comments

  1. Kay says:

    I enjoyed this article about nature – the good & the bad. I fear snakes and rodents too. After returning from a vacation to Montana & Yellowstone, we were greeted with a dead rat in the family room & another in the sink. We had been trying for weeks to trap what we thought were mice. We were dismayed to see rats instead. Fires in N. California have forced many animals to invade suburbia. We did have a beautiful quail family in our gardens before we left. It was so sweet to see 12 baby quail follow their mom, but they have departed. We have an abundance of lizards that love the pool deck & will do 10 push-ups before running away. A hawk glides on the winds daily. Having a garden with birds & beautiful flowers is truly a blessing. I thank God daily for this beautiful world.

  2. Kate Sciacca says:

    “Life is a lot like Nature. Some days it’s heaven on earth. Other days it can be a living hell.
    I try to take them both as they come, believing they’re a gift, whatever they may bring.”

    I’m reminded of St. Paul’s wise words:

    “I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

    Enjoy that fog… here in the high desert we are looking at mid-90’s for most of the week. A friend killed a rattler the other day, sent us a nice pic – I love nature… but the only good rattler is a dead rattler 😉

  3. Katie says:

    Yes, I love nature. I was born and raised in Wild Wonderful West Virginia. As an adult, I lived away for 30 years. I saw a lot of the world, but cherish my home state and the many memories made there…barefoot and all.

  4. Nancy Paravicini says:

    I have missed your wonderful columns, Sharon! Glad I found you here. We moved to Arizona 5 1/2 years ago to be closer to our son and his family. We have a wonderful 12 year old grandson. Glad you are blessed with grandchildren as well! Take care!! Nancy Paravicini ♥️♥️

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