Throughout the practice of science communication, I find no single means of expression to reach all. The percentages of statistics call to the inner researchers out there and the tales of travel call to the inner adventurers. However, I often find that a personal connection to the lands that we so often speak of is best translated through poetry –
I daydream of my plane landing,
Seeing my home town spread out like a map below me.
The fields geometrical, carefully placed and managed.
I am in a taxi, airport-bound, when the driver flicks on the radio.
A static podcast fills the car and speakers surrounding me.
My daydreams of being above the clouds fade as I tune into the audio.
On the radio show, the man’s deep Midwestern voice narrates the changing climate.
He speaks with apathy, with indifference.
Five thousand gallons of oil seep their way into the ground.
But Nebraska still votes to expand, to grow.
The radio man is in support.
With money on his mind,
He forgets his mother earth.
My driver starts murmuring.
He looks back at me in the rear view mirror.
He says when gas prices get to high,
He is going to quit Uber.
Tired of countless nameless faces,
Of rising and falling gas tank meters,
Of the same routes over and over and over.
Yet if we are tired of repetition,
Why do we act with the same ignorance?
Exxon Valdez, Deepwater Horizon, Keystone.
Our ground runs black, tainted and spoiled.
For how long before we listen to this repetition?
I hope that one day you can dance to the rhythm of the falling rain
And breathe in the smell of freshly dampened soil
Of the mud that forms when the rain first kisses the dust.
Feel the soft clay underneath your feet, your toes.
Pause, listen, allow the water droplets to slide over your skin,
Washing away any worries, any sorrow.
Soak it in before it no longer comes at all.
I hope that one day you will run fast and far
Pushing your lungs and pushing your legs
Until you twirl and spin catching your breath
A cool breeze rushes through your hair,
The wind rustling through the leaves
Wander closer to the water,
Meander amongst the stars.
I hope that you savour each and everyday
In this world we get to call home.
I hope that earth fills you with awe, rather than fear,
The fear that one day our world
Will not be pure enough for your innocence to soar so freely.
Those that grew up with an unexplored forest as a backyard.
Those that were drawn to the water,
Eager to splash freely amongst its cooling embrace.
Those that sought the mountain peaks,
Thriving off the deep inhale of a breath,
As their legs got ahead of their lungs.
Those that crave the open air
And have a desire to eat and sleep with the earth.
Those that grip the rock with every last muscle,
Climbing higher and higher
Until the vast expanse of the land opens before them.
The map on their hearts leads to the land.
Their inner compass directing to the outdoors.
Feet following the well worn path to nature.
In every walk in the woods, they are reborn,
Cleansed and renewed.
An open sky their need
And a sleeping bag in the safe walls of a tent
Their preferred home.
Adrenaline runs through their veins
And nature’s creatures are not a fright,
But a friend.
It is in these characters I find my home.
Have you ever gazed upon the grandeur of the blue mountains
Or the striking granite walls of Yosemite valley?
Have you ever sat stream side with water tickling your toes
And any desire to leave fade from your body?
Have you ever caught yourself staring upwards,
Contemplating the life the trees have seen
As their rings mark their years, their wisdom?
Have you ever turned off that freshly paved freeway
to feel the dirt and rocks bounce beneath your tires?
Have you ever watched civilization fade before your eyes,
Only but an afterthought in your review mirror
As bright city lights are replaced by twinkling stars?
Have you ever buried your toes beneath the sand,
Staring out over the vast expanse of the horizon,
Calmly closing your eyes,
And listening to the waves crash as though the ocean’s metronome?
Have you ever felt your lips spread apart
As you could not help but let a smile spread across your face
In company of such breathtaking sights?
Have you ever thought about nature as temporary?
The romantics once talked about nature as a body, soul, and spirit,
A vital inner of the natural world.
Man was but a myriad of species
An intrinsic life amongst many.
But before long, the forest became the unknown.
The haunted, the dark, the evil.
It grew into a place to be frightened of.
It’s untamed nature was a risk,
One to be conquered and defeated.
Slowly over time, the woods became an adventure.
A path marked not by darkness nor fear,
But by the unexplored, waiting to be put on a map.
The forest was the great west, the world across the ocean.
It was new.
It was new and waiting to be exploited.
It was a resource.
The trees were not a man’s friend, but a man’s source of profit,
A man’s source of travel and safety.
A giving tree.
Forests were felled and oceans were sailed.
And the land became the lesser,
No longer feared because man had conquered.
But over time, man realized that fewer and fewer trees remained.
The water man once knelt over and drank from, now made him sick.
The fire that once warmed his shaking body, burned his home uncontrollably.
And so man took a step back.
He looked upon nature falling ill.
He innovated and created.
Man made alternatives to the coal that was stripping mountains of tops.
Man thought of solutions to pulling oil from the earth.
Man used the sun, the water, the natural systems.
And man realized the danger he had put himself in.
And so man worked long and hard to resolve nature’s changing state.