“The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach” – Henry Beston

John Muir, Scottish-American naturalist and author of one of my favourite books “My first summer in the Sierra” once said that in every walk with nature, one always receives more than one seeks. Sadly, far too many have yet to experience that sentiment firsthand and on stormy days it is those rare souls who seek the wind and rain that I know hold that wisdom close to their heart as I do.

You’ll see us not just braving the wild winter wind, but embracing it. Hats off to allow the wind to playfully tangle our hair, caress our cheeks and sometimes slap them with a gust strong enough to knock a man over. It’s cold, that kind of damp cold that chills you to the core, but there’s nothing that makes you feel more alive. Standing, arms stretched in the wind, salt spray misting your face, a mile between you and the next – in that moment the synchronicity of wind waves and water is the only thing that matters. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the wind say… ‘Welcome home.’

Ah, to be able to paint the colours of the sky! Don’t blink because with every gust of wind the light and colours change so fast, it leaves you wondering if you really saw that at all. No artist can do justice to the incredible colours, shades so subtle and stark at the same time, no poet can accurately tell how breathless it leaves the mortal soul ,or how small it makes you feel. We spend most days inside, surrounded by technology, breathing artificial air in artificial environments filled with plants that make us feel marginally better about missing the beauty all around us.

When I was a young girl growing up in the Caribou, I yearned for the city life. The older I get,the more I feel called back to nature at every chance I get. I’m not satisfied to just drive through Stanley Park – although that’s perfectly lovely – I mean, I need real nature. Where you don’t run into several dozen people all lined up for the same panoramic view… and where you can sit in silence so loud it’s deafening.

I worry that we are raising a generation who will never fully understand or experience nature the way many of us have, other than on a video on their ipad, narrated by some silver tongued, burned out movie star on behalf of National Geographic. In our quest for reaching the technological stars, we are leaving what grounds us behind and that makes seeking out moments like yesterday all that more important. There were less than a handful of people on the beach to see the sun set amid a stormy changing sky, to see the sea turn from steely gray to muddy brown, and to see a rainbow like cloud appear in a ray of setting sun and disappear a moment later.

It was a sight to behold.

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I’m working on a couple of new stories for next week: the story I gave you a hint on below my last post, and hopefully a feature story on someone that really grabbed my attention last week – they have to agree first! The week will start with my weekly 24Hrs Vancouver column sometime tomorrow.

5 thoughts on ““The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach” – Henry Beston

  1. Close to where I live is Muir Creek. My Dad was born at the logging camp there and logged that watershed in his career. At the mouth of the creek is a rocky beach, a real workout on the calves and when you turn the corner and face the Pacific, you face the full brunt of the wind. It takes your breath away.

    Thank you Laila, for evoking this memory.

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  2. ktron

    “I worry that we are raising a generation who will never fully understand or experience nature the way many of us have”

    We’re fortunate in Canada to have such a low population density. Many of us can enjoy the benefits of natural spaces without giving up our proximity to other humans. For most of the rest of humanity, nature is a vague, intangible concept – that’s why it’s so easy for certain “people” to co-opt it’s treasures

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  3. Julie

    I grew up on the prairies. The sky was huge and sunrise and sunsets were spectacular. Lakes were crystal clear and clean, the call of the Loons were haunting and beautiful. My favorite bird song were the Meadowlarks. Geese really did fly by the light of the moon, in perfect V formation honking to each other non-stop. To-day the geese that don’t migrate, their V formations are laughable. There were wild strawberries, wild blueberries and what we buy in supermarkets to-day, never taste right to me.

    Canada really is a beautiful country. We will have to fight to keep it that way.

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