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The Wild Places: A Moment with Bill Reflection

Updated on May 6, 2015

My Thanks to Dan Fogelberg

Let’s begin our journey with some lyrics by that great songwriter, Dan Fogelberg, from his song “Wild Places.”

“I was walking alone, through the lofty San Juans
With a heart full of light, and a head full of songs
I was thinking of time, and how much it will cost
To recapture the souls, that we surely have lost

In the cities and towns, there are millions who dream
But the traffic's so loud, that you can't hear them scream
There's a Heaven on earth, that so few ever find
Though the map's in your soul, and the road's in your mind.”

And now let’s explore!

Mt. Rainier in Washington State
Mt. Rainier in Washington State | Source
The Yellowstone River in Wyoming
The Yellowstone River in Wyoming | Source

They Call to Me

When did it all begin? Where did it originate? Is it simply a matter of DNA, this love of nature and desire to see round the next bend in the trail? As hard as it is for me to fathom, there are some who have no desire to cross a mountain stream, or stand upon the peaks with clouds below you, and a sky so blue as to defy definition above you.

Being an adopted child means possessing a certain cluelessness about ancestry. Did my family cross the country in a covered wagon? Did they trap for furs in the cold mountains streams? Did they feel the inner itch and answer to the calling? Is that where it comes from, this need to climb upwards with heart pounding and chest heaving?

I know not! All I know is the desire has always been with me. Rainier has always been a lover, calling from a distance, demanding my attention. The Cascades, the Olympics, they have always whispered to me in the night as the shadows receded from view and darkness blanketed my world. “Come to us, Bill,” they have said. “We need you among us,” they have implored, and as soon as I was able I answered them.

My first hike, with friends, was when I was sixteen. I climbed Mt. Rainier for the first time when I was twenty-two. Over the last fifty years I have probably hiked a thousand miles if not more, and my only regret is the mile still left un-hiked. I’ve shared a hillside glen with a grizzly, both of us eating berries while cautiously eyeing each other from what I hoped was a safe distance. I have scrambled rocky cliffs with mountain goats, howled at the moon with wolves, listened to owls and their mournful cries, fed prairie dogs by hand, stood in awe as an eagle soared on the thermals, and laughed till my sides hurt as baby foxes wrestled under a towering fir.

Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake | Source

They Call to You

Lie down in an alpine meadow and close your eyes. Listen to the purity of nature as it embraces you, engulfs you and reminds you of your roots. Take your boots off and dip your toes in a brook that has flowed continuously for thousands of years. Inhale air so pure it will bring tears to your eyes.

It is all there waiting for you.

The wild places call. Are you listening?

The mountain mist rises over the Great Smokies. Cranes dip for a meal in the Louisiana marshland while yellow trout snatch flies from the surface on a cool morn. Jays play tag, weaving at full speed in and out of maple branches in the Green Mountains.

Liquid purity flows from the Canadian hills, crosses the border and joins the Mighty Mo’, flows and quenches, irrigates and navigates, finally depositing one vital step in the water cycle into the Great Gulf where it mixes with salt and brine, eventually lifts into the air, circulates and becomes a storm, and dumps its bounty to the earth to continue a process older than mankind.

Have you ever seen a thousand acres of wheat blow in the wind? Have you ever heard a corn field crinkle on a hot summer’s day? Have you watched fireflies on a warm evening? Have you cupped earth in your hands and smelled the richness as history decomposes before your eyes?

To the west the giants soar, monoliths and their ramparts, licking the sky, unforgiving, awe-inspiring, brutal and yet oh so beautiful, this is nature unleashed and uncontrolled, turbulent, violent and yet, majestic. The deer, the elk, the bison, the bear, all home, all wary, all searching, like you, for the way to coexistence.

From sea to shining sea, it is yours to enjoy, yours to share and, in truth, yours to destroy if you should choose. We have been given a precious treasure to protect. Will we? Can we shrug aside our basest nature and answer the calling of our finer angels?

The Cascades
The Cascades | Source
Can you feel what Bev feels?
Can you feel what Bev feels? | Source
Shall we go for a hike?
Shall we go for a hike? | Source

Walk with Me

Take my hand and walk with me

Through fields wet with dew and dappled by the sun

Gasp at sights on bended knee

In reverence we will pray for wisdom from the One

“The map’s in your soul, and the road’s in your mind.”

It is there for us all, but for how much longer? Our lifetime? One more generation? Two? Or can Mother Earth shrug off the harm we have done and continue without our caution or stewardship?

How do we find the balance? Resources are needed for a growing population. Needs vs wants, the eternal struggle, bigger homes, bigger lawns, greener lawns, topple those trees, cement that valley, all in the name of progress, but who is progressing and who is falling behind? Seven-point-two billion needy plunderers, then seven-point-three, then….and every single one of them tip the scales and disrupt, corrupt and bankrupt. So where is the answer? Who among you has it? Stand up and share it with us all because we desperately need guidance and wisdom before we permanently screw the pooch for all future generations.

If I say “business wins,” who agrees with me? Let’s just keep building and damn the consequences. Who cares if there are parks? Who really needs greenbelts? There’s money to be made so who cares if you can’t breathe the air?

If I say the “environmentalists win,” who would board that train? No more construction, take care of the planet first and man second, save the whales, save the spotted owl, save the red-crested blue-gilled salamander and to hell with progress. Is that the path we should wander down?

You see, it ain’t easy, is it? I’m all for nature, but I also see the reality of either/or and that’s a no-win for us all.

So we once again drop to our knees and beg for wisdom, beg for answers, beg for balance and compromise, compassion and common sense.

Does he speak to you?
Does he speak to you? | Source

Breathing a Big Sigh

Take my hand and walk with me

Through concrete jungles bleached and choked by commerce

Gasp for breath on bended knee

In desperation we will pray help us please.

“Though the map’s in your soul, and the road’s in your mind.”

When did it all begin is not the question I should be asking myself. How about “how can I pass it on to others?” Maybe that’s more pertinent….

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you adevwriting. I couldn't agree more. I have spent so much time in the wilderness. I will never understand not taking care of it as it has done for us.

    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 2 years ago from United Countries of the World

      The hub was a beautiful expression. As an advanced species, Humans around the world are obviously responsible for Nature. They should give back to Nature just as Nature provides for them. Without Nature, there would be no humans.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      One step at a time, Deb! It's good to know you are on the path and enlightening others. Thank you for who you are.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I'm getting to it, Billy. I have been giving pieces of the Big Secret for a while now. I can't tell you everything, or it will defeat the purpose. It was done generations before me, and now it is my turn to enlighten and enlist. One step at a time...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so very much, Sis! Overwhelming inner peace....yes! That's what I felt the first time I went hiking. I just knew I had come home. :) Peace my kindred spirit!

      Bro

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cat, I love your descriptions...consumes you...pulses through....YES! Thank you for sharing your obvious love of nature.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Genna. I guess my love of nature shines through in this. Can you tell when a topic inspires me? LOL

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Bill.....Mother Nature calls you, "My son."....Never more profoundly than on a bright and crisp Autumn day, near the Alleghany Mountains, surrounded by the sheer beauty & power of "nature," does the concept of overwhelming inner peace consume me.

      You have brought this miracle to life for us in this breathtaking piece. "Life" that must be treasured and protected. Our plight needs to be to leave these wonders as they exist for all generations to come. No human should have to suffer for the neglect & abuse caused by their fathers. The legacy of preservation is worth the plight and fight........Peace, Paula ...UP & out of this world, "awesome." Pinned.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 2 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Bill,

      Such beautiful descriptions of nature's treasures and their effect on the senses of one who is open to accepting them! I'm adopted too, since birth, but know my roots are in Iowa, and before that, Germany & Britain. I have an inherent sensitivity to these things, fueled by childhood summers in the mountains, college in the NW, and travel. I can't separate myself from nature; it pulses through me and consumes my earliest memories. As much as it pains me to see how humans exploit this earth, I think that our civilization will one day be a single chapter in the overall history of the planet. Love those Fogelberg lyrics:)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Yes! A resounding YES to this stunning article, Bill. Nature is part of us…without it, we cannot survive. You have called us back from the brink of what happens when we disassociate ourselves from that which gives us life in every sense of the word. Nature is more than observing from our living room or car window that which exists “on the other side of the glass.” You have put into words what I feel…with me, it is especially strong with the ocean…for all of life that surrounds and abounds, flowing within and shared with an irresistible clarity. This is magnificent, and a must read for everyone.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dahlia, it's nice to see you again. Thank you and I hope all is well with you.

      bill

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow Bill, I loved every word here and this is so beautifully written. I could feel each line and I completely agree. Thank you for sharing this beautiful article with us. Hope you are well. Have a lovely week ahead :)

      Smiles...

      Dahlia

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes we do, Akriti! Now if more people would feel the way you do. :) Thank you!

    • Akriti Mattu profile image

      Akriti Mattu 2 years ago from Shimla, India

      Hats off. What a wonderful post. The environment needs to be protected. These places need to be protected. We owe that to the future generation. Voted up :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mary! That fox was just sitting by the side of the road. He didn't much care as I walked up to within twenty feet of him and snapped some pics.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Frank! Today is Bev's day. I'm just along for the ride. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for sharing part of your story, Lawrence. Mountains and sea....the best of both worlds. Great memories my friend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much Vellur. I hope you are having a wonderful Sunday.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very nice, Manatita. My soul brother for sure. Carry on I shall, and you do the same.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Yes, where is the balance? How much do we protect and how much do we sacrifice to man? Definitely what should be on the mind of every human on the planet.

      Great reflection and I have to say the picture of the fox is amazing!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      wonderful reflection and thank you for taking us along with you and Dan.. :) Hope the mothers in your life are happy as ur hub make us blessings

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      God gave man the task of caring for creation. Your wordpicture was awesome and really pulled me in.

      I grew up on the edge of the Penines, not exactly the tallest of mountains but awesome in so many ways. Every Saturday as soon as i was free I was off into the hills, dogs in tow and you wouldn't see me until well after dark!

      Here in NZ we have mountains and sea as well.

      Also thank you for the reminder that what the good Lord gave us is fragile and as much as she tries to compensate for the damage done, we do need to take good care of her

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Tough call and very difficult to find the balance but this can be achieved by making right decisions. As you say it is the question of want over need. Great hub, important points to think about.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Nice songs, I like them. A truly adventurous spirit and on a par with Jamie. I knew you liked mountains, though.

      Yes, will walk together. I've done 36 -7 countries, and some a few times. So the beauty and imagery grabs me. Carry on Bro!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You betcha, Kim!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kailey! I am honored that you like my writing so much. It means a great deal to me for you to say that.

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      social thoughts 2 years ago from New Jersey

      I could read your nature poetry all day! You write so beautifully. I like your points about the need to co-exist. It's a difficult situation. On one hand, we need to respect nature, but we are allowed to thrive, too.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Bill, You remembered the fireflies. Smiles. Thank You. Kim

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kim, I have no idea what went wrong with your comment, but the same thing has happened quite often the past month. I'm glad you mentioned it so I could go back and find it. Anyway, thank you for the kind words about my poetic whisper. :) Coming from you that is a huge compliment and I am grateful.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you whonu...much-appreciated, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzie, what's happening in Ireland? Sunshine and flowers here in Olympia. Warm temps and love is in the air. :) Thanks, Irish. I hope you are doing well. Say hi to the Mickster for me.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

      Well done my friend and blessings. whonu

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 2 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      Another gem of a journey which continues to highlight your wonderful gift of the English language. Your love of nature oozes from every crevices, a joy to read. Thanks Yoda for more lessons in life!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Me too, Ann! Happy Thursday dear friend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Flourish. I guess we could hope that people will make responsible decisions regarding population growth, but that doesn't seem to be happening.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank yo Venkatachari M. I think most of us have similar memories. My job was to awaken them in all of you. :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Looking forward to that walk, bill.

      Ann :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      We just have too many people stressing our environment. I sure support population stabilization. Excellent photo, too, of that fox. You should make it full width.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Beautiful reflections, Bill. I makes me remember of those beautiful hours spent in nature trekking hills, camping at water falls and under greenery all over there, enjoying delicious food dishes prepared collectively by us in the open there under warm sunlight, cool evenings and moonlit skies.

      Thanks for sharing all this. Voted up and awesome.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, thank you for sharing that about as a child growing close to God. A wonderful memory that you built your life upon, and now look at you!

      blessings always

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, perhaps one day we will be heard. Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Dora. I am humbled by your kind words.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I join you in begging for wisdom, answers, balance, compromise, compassion and common sense.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Bill,

      I love it when you have your moments! Superbly written. Oh what glorious majesty you have shared in your phenomenal photos and words here.

      I, too, love to just be still and close my eyes and enjoy the sounds of life and earth around me. I also appreciate the beautiful creation all around us. As a child, that is how I grew so close to God is admiring His spectacular creation.

      Up and across except funny.

      Peace and blessings always

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Beautiful poetry in prose especially in that section "They Call to You." Beautiful read and wonderful situations to reflect on. Thanks, Bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes they are, Jamie. I do believe you need to answer them.

      Thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, I'm quite used to people not listening to me. :) But still I can hope. It saddens me to hear about what's happening in your area. Same thing here. Construction all over the place...more traffic...more crime...more rage....less peacefulness. When will we ever learn?

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 2 years ago from Reno NV

      Beautiful writing on a topic close to my heart. The trails are calling me. Jamie

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 2 years ago

      Bill, it is sickening to see new construction going up daily while the older viable neighborhoods erode into total decay and are eventually destroyed. Our city keeps moving west, and our water supply (a lake) is now in danger of being polluted by new construction nearby, all for the love of money. There is now a 40-mile stretch of commercialism in two directions where fields and rural homes used to be. It makes me sick, and I long to go back to the mountains from whence I came, but then that area is now suffering earthquakes from fracking. My once-beautiful state is being destroyed. I just wish people would listen to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Twin, I forgot the frogs at night. Such a wonderful sound. Thank you for mentioning that and for being here. You are, as always, appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Larry, she's waiting for you, my friend. I'm sure you'll find her soon. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jo. The old poet surfaces now and again, for better or for worse. You said it all in your comment and said it beautifully.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lawrence, you just described it perfectly. Thank you for that eloquent description. We are brothers.

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      Linda Rogers 2 years ago from Minnesota

      I am so relaxed after listening to Dan and reading your beautiful words here. Your list of things to enjoy made me think of my favorites: nights watching fireflies, laying on my hammock listening to the hatching frogs, the wonderful smells of summer and farm fields, etc... Thanks for inspiring me today Bill.

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      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I too love nature. It's been far to long since I've been out to see her.

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Careful Bill, that lovely old poet is coming out again. :) Yes, She is beguiling. Mother Nature never fails to take my breath away, we need to appreciate those extraordinary places and preserve them for generations to come. I'd like to think that places such as Mt. Rainier will be calling out to your great, great grandchildren long after we're nothing but fading memories.

      We're merely passing through this land, how sad would it be, if we did not take the time to enjoy the view , or worse, prevent others from enjoying it. Thought-provoking, and inspiring as always.

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      Lawrence Kitzmann 2 years ago

      Bring it home my friend. I've seen the wheat fields flowing like an ocean and I've heard corn growing. Have seen the Northern Lights over Lake Superior. Played hooky many a day hiking Garden of the Gods when I should have been teaching. Have seen purple mountain majesty as that is the front range on an early sunrise. When we loose our Thoreau we loose our soul. Thank your for the reminder my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pop, I'll be with you in spirit. Have a wonderful walk and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I hope that too, DJ. As for the wise part....I'm just beginning that journey. :)

      Bill.............have a great day searching for the muse

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      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      You have a beautiful way of reminding us all of this beautiful world we have been entrusted with. I'm going for a walk now.

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      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Wise words from a wise man. For many people, our concerns are great

      but our efforts are nil. I hope we figure it out before it is too late.

      Thank you,

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, I did see it, and I suspect you are right on with that comparison. LOL Too funny, lady! Thanks for the kind words and the laugh.

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      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Bill,

      Yes! Yes! Be sure and watch the fireflies...Smiles...

      I believe you answer the question with your words.

      I believe this is just one more example of the poetic beauty you have running through your veins. To me, the answer begins with dialogue and you present it in such a way that conversation can occur. "Call me a dreamer..." But, I believe...

      ~Kim

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      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      You are a glorious spokesperson for Mother Nature, Bill. I felt the majestic beauty described in your glowing prose. Thank you. That is my serious side.

      Now here, is my comic side. Look at the charming photo of you in the oversize sunglass/goggles. Did you ever see Jeff Goldblum in the film, 'The Fly'? I rest my case. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I've got serious concerns. I don't know if we, as a society, can change our consumer ways. I hope I'm wrong, but as long as it takes us to make major changes, I'm afraid too much damage will be done to the Earth. Again, I sure hope I'm wrong. :)

      Have a great Wednesday and thank you.

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Nature truly is a beautiful wonder. I love the picture you painted of the waters flowing together, culminating in the vapors rising to create life-sustaining rain, continuing the cycle of life.

      You bring up a good point. To an extend, accommodating the population growth is necessary, but saving the earth is a dire need or there will be no place to build those vacation homes and widen roads for humans to get from point A to point B 15 minutes sooner.

      The world needs to slow down. I'd much rather take back roads (and I do), resplendent with scenery, than join the claustrophobic congestion of the highways to get to where I'm headed. And why does anyone need more than one home?

      If we're not careful and take a real good look at what we're doing to the land and its wildlife, "progress" will surely surpass life.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ann. We'll go for a walk around your area one day. You can show Bev and I your local wonders, and we will be in appropriate awe. :)

      Happy Wednesday to you, and happiness always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I believe that too, Buildreps. It makes me feel good to know others do as well. Thank you!

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Wonderful, wonderful, bill! I love the line, “The map’s in your soul, and the road’s in your mind" and I love John Denver's song (all of them actually). Perfect message here; what will we do? I know I'm trying to pass on as much as possible to my descendants, in person and in text.

      I love being out and 'in touch' with nature. It never fails to put me in awe and it never fails to inspire.

      Have a great Wednesday, bill!

      Ann

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      Buildreps 2 years ago from Europe

      Beautiful Bill. Only consciousness can safe the world. Nothing else can.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate the kind words, Lies...thank you very much.

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      Linda Bryen 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Another awesome and interesting hub Bill. I can sense your love of nature by reading this beautiful hub of yours. Thank you for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Janine. You know I always appreciate you. Happy Wednesday dear friend.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Absolutely beautiful reminder, Bill and can't thank you enough today for this and more. Have a wonderful, Wednesday now! ;)