When I was a boy, I spent time in a ravine. After school and on weekends, I found solace in the woods. Filtered sunlight illuminating the soft, green moss that couched the sides of forgotten trees, and the pungent smell of composting earth offered me the calm and peacefulness that only nature can provide, a respite from life, home, family. It was here that mysteries were uncovered and language was spoken without the use of words. It was here that I learned to respect and commune with the natural world.

The ravine has come to symbolize the unfolding of life as it should when left to its cyclical nature. Leaves would fall, the earth would harden, my footprints would lay frozen on the ground, and then before too long, as the days began to lengthen, the creek would flow more freely and with this spring came life, renewal. And, just as summer could not grow any sweeter, the leaves would begin to color, the air chill, and as the acorns fell, they were quickly buried for safe keeping.

Life in the ravine taught me to love. It taught me about the sacred and the preciousness of every living thing. It taught me respect for a world that I can only inhabit not control. It taught me, most importantly, to walk gently upon this earth and tread lightly over its surface.

Image: Paul Zachman, 2009