In 1901, John Muir said we are “a tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people” who need to reconnect with nature. And so today we walked along clearwater brooks and passed piles of New Hampshire granite. I tripped over roots and slapped at bugs. Nature as the sublime. Nature as a place I don’t belong. We stopped to admire a massive owl, and those blank eyes in its revolving head left me feeling judged. Monsters were once called lusus naturae: “nature’s games.”

C. and I stopped to sit on a rock while the others continued on their ambitious hike. For a moment the insults and anxieties of 2020 felt like they belonged to a different age. We contemplated where waterfalls come from and wondered how saltwater becomes freshwater and vice versa. “Are glaciers salty?” I asked. We debated this for twenty minutes before gravity, fish, and the moon got involved. How do I know so little about how the world works?

The Knife – Forest Families

Silent Shout | Mute, 2006 | More