by Heather Clarkson
When I was asked to write the opening message for this month’s newsletter, I didn’t expect to end up reflecting on my 30th year – alas, here we are. I am approaching the end of my third decade on this planet – decades shaped by river water and spring breezes, cicada songs and palmetto bugs – and I find myself thinking of all the ways the Carolinas and their lands have made me the woman I am today.
Historically, the winter holidays have always my time to reconnect with natural landscapes. As a child, I looked forward to family trips to our home on Edisto Island, where my cousins and I would scrape around the pluff mud searching for fiddler crabs or climb the towering live oaks. There was never any mistletoe to be found – instead, we threw clumps of Spanish moss in each other’s hair and squealed rather than kissed. We feasted on deviled crab caught right from the creek and listened to our aunts and uncles tell stories of the past that typically included an alligator or two.
The elephant in the room these days starts with a C, and families everywhere are coming to terms with a very different holiday this year than in years past. We find ourselves making sacrifice after sacrifice for the safety and well-being of those around us, and while the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter, it does still seem so very far away sometimes.
Now, I find myself a bit older, and seeking the stillness and quiet of a winter forest or the gentle bubble of a stream. Cool mornings are spent watching the birdfeeder or hiking around a misty woodland pond listening for the slap of a beaver tail. Nature continues to stamp my experiences, though marked these days more by solitude and introspection than by streaks of pluff mud over my clothes.
Nature is truly transformational – something many of us can attest to. My childhood love for the wild world transformed me from a dirty, tangle-haired Edisto child to an adult who fights for endangered species and wetland habitats across the Carolinas. I imagine, if you’re reading this newsletter, nature has been transformational for you, as well. And as this year crawls to an end, I encourage you to embrace your transformation, embrace the peace of a still winter wood, and wrap yourself in the reflection of all the ways that nature has made you who you are today.
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