PRELUDE: After a four-day visit to Kodiak, Alaska, during August 2018, I witnessed Mother Nature’s stunning beauty that is difficult to describe in words. It is fortunate that the flora and fauna featured in Kodiak’s breathtaking beauty is protected by the laws of nature and those imposed by humankind. Natural physical forces (earthquakes, volcanoes, storms, tsunamis) cause and regulate these phenomena. The natural forests, landscapes, oceans, seashores, mountains, gentle breezes, powerful winds, tumbling streams, singing birds, fresh clean air, changing cumulus clouds, warm sunshine, falling rains and other features made me feel very blessed that I was able to walk and experience the ambiance of such peaceful creations. Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, in her book “Molly Bawn” (1878), states “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I was inspired to write this essay titled “Dearest Nature” as a feeble attempt to put into words my thoughts and feelings as I experienced being the eye of the beholder viewing the beauty of nature while meandering within nature’s abode.
Dearest nature, I hope that you never know that I was here! I hope I did not leave even a single footprint that would indicate my one-time presence. Nature is for all humankind to view, appreciate and protect by leaving behind no unsightly symbols of human existence.
English Romantic lyric poet John Keats once wrote, “The poetry of earth is never dead.” The poetry of Kodiak Island’s beauty is very much alive, and I would not want to risk disfiguring or marring it by my being there. The beauty portrayed before me on Kodiak Island cannot be replicated by humankind. Only the laws of nature can effectively change, modify, alter or improve the landscape. Nature’s law is stronger than any law humans have ever composed and implemented.
I felt my asthmatic lungs enjoying my breathing in clean fresh air. German-born diarist Anne Frank once wrote, “I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” My late wife always knew I was distressed when she would see me going off for a long walk in the woodlot on our farm.
Visiting nature in its purest form was like being home even though it was just a short drop-in visit. American essayist and poet Henry David Thoreau once stated, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” As I meandered in Kodiak’s Forest, I felt heaven was surrounding me with peacefulness, serenity and calmness. The emotions of nearby seas varied with calmness and perilousness. Calm seas dominated two ravishing days of fishing with dear friends. Hazardous seas fraught with danger impeded an additional two days of fishing.
Both calm and hazardous seas were beautiful in their own natural way. Calm seas were ruled by clear blue skies sprinkled with white cumulus clouds. Hazardous seas were commanded by high winds, fast moving white capped waves and rain noisily crashing against rocky and sandy coast lines.
In that part of the world winter can be harsh and gruff but dazzling in its own way. I was confident cold temperatures, freezing winds and snow unrolled their frigid wrath over trees on mountains and valleys with a snow white blanket while they slept during winter months. Rachel Carson once said in her book “Silent Spring,” “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
To appreciate and understand the traits of nature’s pace, her secretive wherewithal virtues include patience, persistence and perseverance. My love of nature in Alaska evolved because I found pleasure in trail-less woodlands, bliss on isolated shores, a culture where no one disturbs nature’s beauty and the roaring euphonic music of the deep sea. Naturalist and conservationist John Muir wrote, “Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while never-ending cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” Let me close this essay with a prominent Latin proverb, “Nature is our mother!”
James E. Diamond, Ph.D. Dean Emeritus (Agricultural and Environmental Sciences) retired after a 47-year career as an agricultural educator. With Dr. Diamond’s extensive agricultural, academic and international background he felt a need to write prose poetry as a way to put his life experiences into perspective. He does not profess to be a renowned poet, however his writings are a sincere attempt to express his inner feelings without shame or inhibition. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science at Delaware Valley University; Master’s Degree in Education at Lehigh University; and his Ph.D. in Agricultural Education at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Diamond has worked, studied and traveled in 58 countries on five continents as a farmer, agricultural educator and international consultant for Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.