I hear a wolf-like howl of a loon out on the lake. There are no stars or moon tonight because of the recent rain. It is true that I miss searching the sky for my favorite constellations, tracing the patterns of light in the belt of Orion or the Big Dipper. Without the stars, the night seems deeper and more peaceful somehow. The oak trees have been left to grow as a natural forest around the house. This makes me feel like I am in a tree house and that we have the house and the forest and the lake beyond it all to ourselves. When my eyes adjust to the darkness, the water shines like a black polished stone, reflecting the black sky in it’s stillness. The forest of pines and oaks push to the water liked shadowed figures, cloaked in rustling leaves that carry whispered patterns away on the wind. The motorboats that frothed the waters earlier that day with streaks of white are all bobbing silently at the docks, blips of glinting plastic along the black lake shore.
Without sight and sound, my already keen sense of smell is stronger than ever. The damp trees and earth churn up memories that belong to this place from thousands of years ago, before the sickly sweet smell of gasoline or even campfire smoke. Newer smells like the cherry wood used to build the house bring me back to the present and meld with the constant and subtle marshy scent of the lake. The air that carries these smells is so clear and fresh it reminds me of the water that comes straight from a mountain stream, but in air form. I wish I could store it in a bottle to breathe for later. I hear a burst of laughter from somewhere across the lake. I remember that we are not alone here.
I always find myself surprised that it takes me so long to get back to these places of peace, back to the nature that seems to hold the quite obvious key to tranquility. Even when I have not been gone for long, I wonder how I ever left. I wonder how any human has ever left, ever forgotten what it feels like to be in the middle of a quiet forest on the shores of a lake.
We convince ourselves that the countless choices for entertainment that characterize the city is what we want, what we can’t live without. We want to be excited, stimulated, engaged and that is what the city gives us. I wonder how I always forget so quickly what that peace feels like.
Now, back in the heart of Berlin, I remember that these things are important too. Even though it is good to be back, I am writing to remember how it feels to be in nature, to remind myself to always seek it, and to remind you to go back to it, if you are like me and forget sometimes, or stay away for too long.
Have you ever felt like this after returning to nature after being away for far too long?