Thoughts on Our Treescape

Rock Bridge State Park TrailEditor’s note: For Mother’s Day, some of our library staff invited their moms to be guest writers for DBRL Next. This article is from Pat McDonald, intrepid and inspiring mom of our staff editor, Jenny. Enjoy!

All my life, I have been drawn to and fascinated by the outdoors. Growing up in a big city, I would stare out at the trees from my upstairs window, and be first in line for car trips out of town where there were more trees, and maybe some woods! Over 50 years later, I continue to feed my “itch,” and to understand better why it is so important to my peace and sanity.

In my working and child-raising years, I would take hikes on weekends or after work.  Riding my bicycle to work a few days a week would give me my quiet, tree-filled “fix” for the day. Vacations nearly always included hiking or bike trails. Now in retirement, I am part of Missouri’s Master Naturalist program, and I also volunteer at Rock Bridge State Park, one of my local sacred places. I am thankful every single time I can go out there and fill my eyes, my lungs and my heart.

Many great authors have put words to what I feel, and I continue to seek them out and save their inspired thoughts.

To be whole and harmonious, man must also know the music of the beaches and the woods. He must find the thing of which he is only an infinitesimal part and nurture it and love it, if he is to live.

-Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, My Wilderness, 1960


Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs—
To the silent wilderness
Where the soul need not repress
Its music

Percy Bysshe Shelley,  To Jane: The Invitation, 1822


Give no credence to any thought that was not born outdoors, while one moved about freely.

Friedrich Nietzsche


We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it.  We need a refuge even though we may never need to go there…We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire, 1968


One of my favorite pieces of advice did not come to me with an author’s name, but I know plenty of people it could have been!


Do not linger too long with your solemnities,
go eat and drink and talk,
and when you can—
follow a woodland trail, climb a high mountain
sleep beneath the stars, swim in a cold river
chew the thoughts of some book which challenges your soul.
Use your hands some bright day
to make a thing of beauty
or to lift someone’s heavy load.

(Ed.: Mom, it turns out this verse comes from a popular poem by a Unitarian minister named Arnold Crompton.)

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