What do I do when I’m homesick for the call of the wild? When my South African roots have me longing for the serenity of the savanna, instead of driving south to the airport, I head west to the Everglades.
Within minutes of getting into a kayak, there’s this mushy thing that happens in my belly as my stomach muscles soften into instant Savasana. A soppy look appears on my face when I see my first Great Blue Heron of the day (for the umpteenth time, and yet I’m still captivated by the swaying S-curve of its neck in its pre-dinner dance). I’m mesmerized by the heart-shaped lily pads bobbing up and down in the water; a solitary white flower here and there, catching the light.
The light. The cliché of the wide, open spaces and blazing sunsets. The stillness. That same sort of silence you experience in “the bush” in Africa. Quiet, but not quiet. Buzzing with the sounds of bird calls, frog croaks and insect chirps.
Sometimes I’ll add the clicking of my camera shutter to the ambient noises, in the hope of capturing some of nature’s splendor. Other times, I put away all cameras and devices and simply breathe it all in; taking a photo with my memory, able to recall it later in all its splendor, without my Instagram feed.
There are no roaring lions or prancing wildebeest out here, but an energetic bullfrog impressively impersonates a warthog. If I half close my eyes and squint a bit, the leathery gator looks like our crusty crocs of the Southern Hemisphere, except with better manners.
I’m not looking to replicate Africa out here on the “River of Grass”, because the Florida Everglades have their own magic. But I do feel the same joy of being connected to nature. I am grateful for easy access to this aquatic beauty that has earned the hefty titles of World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance.
Not just on Earth Day, but on any day, if you ever doubted that Nature has the power to heal, simply spend some time outdoors to feel it soothe and revive you. A recent, annoying conversation suddenly doesn’t really matter that much. Maybe worries dissipate a little and life looks positively cheerful. Maybe you simply remember how to be in the present moment and breathe.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”.
Yoga teaches us awareness of the inner Self and awareness of our connection with, and impact on, the world around us; including its creatures and habitat.
[as published in Today’s Yoga Magazine]