The marvel of nature reclaiming everything, including me (Outdoor Diary)

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Humans outside episode 387

There’s something both comforting and amazing about the way nature takes the reigns no matter what happens. During a recent walk in the woods, I saw startling new growth on top of recent harm, and it was just the reminder I needed about nature’s power to reclaim itself and me.

Maybe it’s a reminder you need, too.


Some of the good stuff:

[00:23] Here’s what I did outside this week

[00:35] Nature just out there healing its own self

[01:37] Here’s where I face the music

[02:32] And here’s what I saw when I did

[04:03] Oh yeah, nature heals people, too

Connect with this episode:

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

There’s something inspiring about the way nature heals itself.

And it’s a reminder of how it heals me. I’ve been hesitant to go on a walk in the woods behind my house because I can hear the dirt work that they’re doing in the area that they clear cut earlier this year.

You might remember that the school district came through with a series of giant machines and cut down several acres of young cottonwood trees and old growth forest on the property behind my home. It is not my property, and they are allowed to do with it whatever they want, but it still made me sad to see so many beloved trails disappear in what felt like an instant.

One day I went walking out there, and then just a few days later, the out there was completely gone. I wish I had known that it was the last time I would be there.Had I know, I would have done a better job of saying goodbye.

I’ve been listening to the dirt work behind my house from my desk for about two weeks now, and I felt nervous to go out and see what they’ve been doing.

There’s really nothing I can do to stop them, and so seeing it has felt like welcoming ongoing pain. But yesterday, with just a few minutes to get my outdoor time in, I put on my rain boots, called out the dog, and walked into the woods to see what was going on back there.

What I found was, fortunately, not that startling. They are doing work as anticipated, moving around dirt, flattening some areas, and generally making the whole thing a little bit different in preparation for some baseball fields they’ll be expanding.


I decided to take a few minutes and walk up above some of the trails they cleared to see what else is going on out there, trying to forget what was just bordering the woods behind me and all the destruction that I couldn’t see from where I was standing.

I found a few areas where a different crew had come in and cut down trees that needed to go. Still sad, but different sad. These were trees that were going to fall over onto the trails, and really needed to be cleared out before they hurt someone or came down during a storm. But it still felt sad to see them, especially in conjunction with all the other clear-cutting that had happened nearby.

And that’s because even when things need to go, losing them is sad.

But as I was walking and looking at the trees they’d felled, I noticed how nature was healing itself even around those cuts.

On one stump in particular, a giant mushroom had already started growing out of the top of the stump. This particular birch ree wasn’t cut down that long ago, so the fact that a mushroom is already there was incredible to me.

The birch tree was also seeping its watery sap out of the cut, and as it trickled down the side of the trunk, a bacteria or fungus or something had started to grow on it, making it look pink and, frankly, disgusting.

But I stood there marveling at it, thinking about how nature had already taken over this man-made cut-through to heal itself and grow and change right before my very eyes.

It was comforting in a way. It made me think about how, even though they clear-cut this area, even though that, frankly, hurt my feelings and removed a portion of land that people really treasured — not just me, lots of people — I realized that in short order nature will come in and do its thing.

The school district won’t do upkeep on all of this land because they never have before and I know they don’t have a budget for it. That means bushes will grow back, trees will start to grow, things will start to happen, and nature will reclaim itself, just like it has already in a very small way for this stump.

It’s a reminder that the whole world is growing and changing, that nothing ever is the same or ever will be the same, both in spots where humans do silly things and in spots where no one ever is. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

My walk out there that evening had another benefit, too. I was out there walking in the woods after a very busy day of work when I had put my outdoor time off until the very last minute. I mean, it was literally 8 o’clock at night, and I had to leave shortly to go get my kid from his church youth group. I was really squeezing this in at what felt like the last minute.

But as I walked through the woods and sighed away the intellectual load of the day, I was reminded that just being in these woods and smelling these trees, the scent of the rain that was moving over the sky, the growth that is happening there, even the fungus on that stump, was changing me and making me into a better version of myself. I could feel how it was growing over my day, if you will, taking it from inside and stuffy to outside and expansive.

I felt deeply appreciative for the work that nature does on me when I give it the time and space to do so. That’s something I think we can all use this time of year, and all year round, actually. This idea that if we give nature the time and space to give us just a little bit of breathing room, if we give it the time and space to help us grow and change, it’ll do it. But we have to go out there, we have to take the time to take the walk in the woods, to take the lunch break on our porch, to listen to the birdsong, and to quite literally smell the roses. If we don’t take the time, it will never help us. But if we do, and we put ourselves in it, even for 20 minutes on a Thursday afternoon, it’ll do what it needs to do, and help us in all the ways we need to be helped.

You can see photos of my time out in the woods, including a shot of that really disgusting log on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram, and I want to see your photos too, tag them with hashtag humansoutside365, and until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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