Met great world travelers yesterday, Richard and Karlene Miller of Barnstead, New Hampshire, who were gracious to offer me a ride to Wellfleet to drop off my car so I didn’t have to take Uber back to Nickerson State Park. I’m walking the Cape Cod Rail Trail again today from Brewster, to Orleans, through Eastham and finishing up at the Wellfleet Trailhead (about 12 miles).
What does it mean to be at one with nature? Over the past couple of weeks that question has resonated within me as I’ve experienced increased moments where I’ve felt in tune and at one with nature.
“When it occurs, your perception of the boundaries between yourself and all else—the thoughts and feelings setting you off from the rest of the cosmos—seem to evaporate. The distinction between you and nature (or in the religious versions nature and God) breaks down. You become one with the universe. A reassuring sense of harmony and connection with the world infuses your consciousness. It’s an experience that matches up with the knowledge of your own dependence on and connection to the world.”
I remember having this experience early on, the very first day of my hike to be exact, when I observed birds, and bugs all momentarily journeying in some direction of their own within feet of me. I was curious and looked on, training my eyes longer than usual, with amazement as they stared back at me. Then another part of me felt annoyed by the bugs in my face and shooed them away. Maybe a trained cultural reaction. It was too soon for me to recognize their friendliness, customs, and curiousness.
The Grasshopper and Butterfly
In one instance last week while walking in five or six inch tall grass from Plymouth to Sagamore, adjacent to the Myles Standish state park, a small knot of grasshoppers leapt up about five feet in front of me stared at me momentarily and then dashed ahead of me about 5-10 feet and waited until I caught up. Then they repeated this playful turn-taking game for about 2-3 minutes before breaking off contact. It seemed much longer as I felt the grasshoppers were leading me along the path making sure I had company on my journey. I remember feeling I was not alone with them.
The other instance occurred last Saturday in Sandwich on Route 6A at a traffic intersection when a black and orange butterfly was flitting its way near me as I crossed the intersection. Forgetting where I was, I focused on the butterfly welcoming it into my personal space turning my body with the butterfly before it broke off contact, maybe alerting me to the dangers around me. It was such a powerful moment of contact that quickly and abruptly ended when I looked up and became startled by a row of cars facing me with drivers laughing and smiling as I quickly scooted out of the way of the oncoming traffic.
Do you consider yourself a New Englander?
Please help me understand what it means to be a New Englander at this time by completing my short Mass Walk Survey.
Special thanks to Dr. Hub and his daughter, Polly, and son-in-law Mark for allowing me to stay at their home in Barnstable last Saturday night.