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Recently, a line from a novel included an idea that stood out strongly, an idea that nature lovers might view as one of their own.
The novel is “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by the contemporary writer Delia Owens.
The main character is called the “Marsh Girl,” since she lives in the marshland on the North Carolina coast.
The character, abandoned by all family members when she was a child, finds a way to take care of herself without help from family and without formal education, yet she becomes close to the earth, close to flora and fauna in the marshland and becomes an expert in collecting, displaying and categorizing samples from the land and sea.
The narrator writes this about the Marsh Girl: “She feels the pulse of life because there are no layers between her and her planet.”
What a great sentence and a great idea, but it is not unique to the Marsh Girl. People all around us have no layers, so to speak, between them and the earth that they love so much.
Consider the following examples of how people have “no layers,” and think of other ways your own life exemplifies the idea.
Those who dig in the dirt, prepare planting beds and get dirt under their nails love the feel and smell of soil, and they become up close and personal with their planet.
Those who sit on the beach and recall Lord Byron’s famous line, “Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean — roll!” are surely connected to the planet with no layers. When sand sticks to wet skin after making a sandcastle on that same beach, the builder is a brother or sister with the earth.
Children and adults alike who unashamedly lie in the snow and make snow angels are at one with a pure gift of nature and leave their mark for others to enjoy.
This time of the year when we romp in a pile of leaves with reckless abandon, we have no layers. We are joined at the hip with our planet.
Look into a flower, look down and deep into its face and its passages. You will feel as though you are in a natural tunnel and at home there with no layers between you and the little world inside.
Lie flat on the ground and look for four-leaf clovers, feel the freshness and coolness and accept the invitation to be at one with the clover world. You might not want to get up. Walking barefoot on moss will connect you to the earth in a most pleasant way as well.
Walk in a forest and breathe deeply the oxygen that the trees have produced just for you. You will be refreshed and reluctant to leave the forest’s canopy and its sanctuary.
Eat vegetables or fruit that you have picked from a garden or an orchard and watch layers between you and the planet disappear.
Find your own ways to connect to your planet. You might be like the Marsh Girl who lived and breathed her natural world and could not tell where she stopped and it began.
Let us strive for no layers between us and our planet and know that the earth is better than all of us put together.
Sanda Baucom Hight is retired from Wilson County Schools after serving as an English teacher and is currently a substitute in Wilson County. Her column focuses on the charms of home, school and country life. Email her at email@example.com.