One For Wednesday – Happiness

It only happens when I’m connected with nature: a happiness so bold and broad that I’m nearly manic.

Despite living in a city, albeit a smaller city, I still see nature everywhere: out my kitchen window, from the seat of my bicycle as I commute to work, and in the street trees outside my business. Portland is indeed a city of treehuggers and we’ve done a good job of not only working to preserve nature here, but also of  infusing habitat into parks and backyards and planter boxes.  Several large natural areas, and even a wildlife refuge flourish with native flora and fauna within the city limits.

So, I have many reasons to be happy.

Do I think my condition is unique? No, not at all. In fact I believe this connection with nature, this need to connect to nature, exists in us all.  Connecting with nature connects us to our roots – our tribal and/or agrarian roots from dozens of generations back through our family trees. All of us have some near or distant relative who relied on their knowledge of nature for survival. Someone who knew and read the land, the signs nature laid down, and the passing of seasons and eked-out their livelihood. Those ancestors relied on their knowledge of the world but also upon cooperation and connection with other humans.

Barb Winter 2013 274aw

Forward from that time, to the present, I witness in Portland, Oregon a manifestation of that need to connect with other people in the proliferation of curbside message boards. Here  those message boards are primarily poetry posts like the one pictured – literally poetry posted on a post in someone’s yard, but viewable from the sidewalk. With them residents create a contemplative gathering spot for passersby asking for nothing in return. It’s a beautiful selfless act and one that’s become contagious in this city – these posts are not uncommon.  I make a point of visiting, pausing, reading when I happen upon one.

This particular post not only shares a little poem, but it engulfs the reader in the shade of a large conifer, tickles us with a native sword fern, and includes a meditating statue to remind us to breathe and be mindful. A stop here connects me to the person that posted the poem, connects me with nature, and connects me to my spiritual self.

So, I have many reasons to be happy.

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