‘The Maker, whose heart is bigger than all the Earth and the Sea and the Sky, created a thousand different lands for his creatures to live upon and cherish and love. But a man’s heart is small, so he is fated to choose only one of the thousand lands to cherish and love above the others. He deems this place the fairest, and it is here he is most content in his life and most at peace when his soul and spirit pass on.’
Although I would like to claim that quote as an original thought and intellectual property all my own, it is my poetic prose blend of wisdoms that came from the hearts and minds of men and women with much deeper experience and appreciation of the Earth and mankind’s relationship with it: Black Elk, Rudyard Kipling, Rachel Carson, Joseph Wood Krutch, Henry David Thoreau, and Aldo Leopold among them. Reading their words awakens my too often dormant fascination with the natural world and inspires my writing about its essential role in my life, the foundation block that supports my teetering climb toward an understanding of the world and all that is upon it.
In truth, my understanding of the Earth is limited to a few small portions of it. A man’s heart is indeed small when measured against the myriad land and sky and seascapes that The Maker created and gave to mankind. Try as I might to cherish and love many – the Pacific Northwest, the desert Southwest, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming and Montana, the High Plains of the Dakotas, the aspen forests of Northern Minnesota, and so many others — I am able to embrace only a few. Really only two: The North Country of the Upper Midwest that has been my home more than 35 years, and the Nebraska Sandhills, which for more than 45 years has been my spiritual center, my land of serenity and reverence, my place in the sun. I have immersed myself in both realms, but my knowledge of them is still limited, and my comprehension of the seasonal, changeable characteristics of these lands, unlike my passion for them, is more apparent than real.