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Nature through the eyes of a "city girl"

Updated on October 18, 2013

I am a city girl, born and raised in Bronx, NY. My surroundings where that of noisy cars, horns blowing, sirens screaming and people yelling, arguing and fighting. All very normal and not at all intrusive.

In the streets, there was debris everywhere. Cans, bottles, cartons from fast food restaurants, graffiti and sticky pavements. The sights of the city. As a child, I saw more than this.

My family frequently went to the “beach” in the summer. There was the ocean, which was vast and expanded for miles with no end. Pretty. However, on the beach there was more debris. Spilled cans, dropped ice cream cones and not much else. Again, the norm.

Watching TV was interesting. Most of what I saw seemed surreal. A life I could not relate to with the exception of the occasional sit-com that poked fun at the poor life. “Chico and the man”, “Sanford and son” and “Good times”. I couldn’t relate much to the Brady bunch but it was fun to watch a large family.

Then I graduated High School and waited in anticipation to start college far from home. I went to visit the campus I would attend and could not believe that this would be my life. I could not wait. So much so that I stayed home that summer, for fear that, something would change and I would not be able to go to Cedar Crest College.

I remember when I arrived on campus. Everything looked and felt like I had stepped into a TV screen. I was in awe. It was all so foreign to me. I could not wait for the adventure to begin!

Many things happened in college that I could write a book about but I want to talk about my introduction to nature. Being exposed to the world around us, (the natural world) was life changing for me.

Cedar Crest was a small college with grass and trees all around it. I remember the very first time that I saw a chipmunk. I saw this “thing” that I knew was not a mouse scurry quickly away from us and into a hole. I stood over that hole and stared in amazement. My friend was so fascinated with my reaction that she took a picture (I still have it to this day).

My friend explained that it was a chipmunk and I felt a bit silly but was excited to have seen something I honestly only saw in a cartoon version.

Behind Cedar Crest, there is a creek and pond. I did a great deal of my studying there during the summer. I remember writing to my father that first year from a bench by the pond and telling him all about the ducks. How beautiful they were and how I fed them and they actually came over to me and took the bread from my hand. Wow!

I loved walking through the quad at night. Right outside my old dormitory, tiny “birds” would swoop out of nowhere. I later learned that they were actually bats. Tiny ones. It became my favorite sight to see at night.

Sometime during those 4 years I went to my first country fair and saw cows and calf for the very first time and actually got to pet them. Fascinating. Here I was a 20-year-old young woman experiencing parts of the world that I never witnessed before.

After college, I frequently went to the beach with friends. There was one occasion I remember when we went camping and strolled to the beach early in the morning. The beach was empty with only us setting up for a refreshing morning by the beach. The girls I was with went about their routine of putting tanning oil, shades, laying out their beach towels and just laying there. I sat and looked around thinking about how absolutely beautiful the birds flying around were. I just watched in awe at what I later found out were Seagulls. I wrote a poem about my experience that day. I am still puzzled by the way none of my friends seemed to pay attention to the sights and sounds. I wondered how people could be so “used” to the beauty that they took it for granted and didn’t seem to appreciate it.

This was all thirty years ago and today I am still in awe of the nature around me. Since I was exposed to the beauty of nature, I have never taken it for granted. Decades later, I am still ever so grateful for what beauty God has provided us all.

I now take my granddaughter to the petting farms and feel like I am a child discovering things I have never seen before. My partner laughs at me because I often walk out of the house in the morning to the birds singing and say “good morning little ones”. The birds are particularly special to me. They remind me of our Heavenly Father and Jesus. They comfort me. In Matthew 6:26 it said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” When I hear their song, I am reminded of God’s provision and feel a kinship with our avian friends.

It saddens me that too many of us are rushing about our lives not taking a moment to see, feel, smell the playground that has been provided for all of us to enjoy for all of our life.

By Evelyn Rivera (c) Copyright September, 2011


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