Sunday, March 9, 2014

uncontained beauty

Cedar Glade: Forks-of-the-River

Yesterday, trail scout Eric Johnson and I led a Piece-by-Piece hike for Ijams in the Knoxville Urban Wilderness: South. We spent the afternoon on state-owned land, the eastern portion of Forks-of-the-River WMA, a cedar glade, admiring the terrain, hiking the bluff along the French Broad River. Decades ago the parcel almost became an industrial park, but public outcry saved it.

For most of our modern existence, nature has been viewed as a commodity to be harvested and expropriated. That began to change in the early 1800s and Emerson's essay simply titled "Nature" fired the first salvo for the new paradigm: nature as a paradise to be savored and protected. A spiritual sanctuary. Sanctum sanctorum. After Emerson came Thoreau, Burroughs, Muir and many, many others.

Here's an excerpt:

"I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right."

- From "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, first published in 1836

Bluff Trail: Knoxville Urban Wilderness

1 comment:

Patty Ford said...

Love this quote from "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson!