Nature Wisdom

With Pat Tuholske, Naturalist

Walking Into Night

The sun has dipped beyond sight. First star lights appear overhead as the sky moves closer to the earth. Night awakens. The wind stills as shadowed hues appear around hills and leafless trees.

I bundled up and venture out for a winter night hike. Our land is isolated far from city lights. It is DARK. Shapes and sizes of things get distorted. A little cedar bush next to the trail is familiar in the daylight but unknown and startling in the dark. I’m unsure if it is the little cedar bush. I feel a scare in my belly. It may be a deer, a coyote, a person or a bear.

Before my mind gets more carried away, I must touch it. Yes, it is that little cedar bush. My fears are conquered and I can continue my hike in the dark.

Sounds are amplified at nighttime. If you are unfamiliar with the yells of a coyote pack, they can become a band of wild troublemakers. The cries of a bobcat can make your neck hairs stand on end. The stomping snort of a buck can send you running for shelter.
Humans have a natural fear of the dark. The first thing we do when it gets dark is to flip the lights on. We surround ourselves with street lights, porch lights, lamp light, flashlights. Feeling safe with the lights must be encoded in our DNA. Our ancient ancestors gathered around the fire at night for protection, heat, light and companionship.

Yet, I thrive on solitary time in the woods. I need to walk alone with the wind, sing to the moon and learn from the stars. My adventures alone in Nature have been some of the most profound lessons of my life. Nature teaches me to recognize the difference between irrational fears of the unknown and real present dangers.

Most fears are unfounded. With conscious effort, you can stop those obsessive thoughts before they become unnecessary stress and anxiety. When things are unclear and logic wants order, face the fear… touch that little cedar bush. Embrace the reason for fear in relationships, job concerns, house payments and other worries. Fear is the great teacher. That cedar bush may gobble you up but most likely give you just a little brushing. You’ll live in fear until you touch it and know it.

Check out Pat Tuholske’s “Nature Chronicles” for musings on the Human-Nature relationship at pattuholske.com. See her Wild Wreaths, Wheels, Twig Art and Native Herbal Remedy (aka Essiac) crafted from Ozark native plants at willowrainherbalgoods.com