Saturday, January 1, 2005

Natural Entertainment

City folk grow bored fairly quickly when left to their own devices in the country, and they demand entertainment; nature alone is not enough for them.
-John Fraser Hart
The Look of the Land (1975)

Over the years I have found this saying true more often than not. People seem to be uncomfortable when they are taken away from their television, radios, shopping malls, vehicles and thrust out into a world where their mind if forced to focus longer than a thirty minute sitcom. For them, they constantly need to invent sources of entertainment to make the time go by rather than listen as Mother Nature entertains them. A couple of examples:

So many times, when I visit people's houses, I walk inside only to be overwhelmed by the constant noise that exists. In today's world, a television is usually the culprit, running in the background even if no one seems to be watching it. So many times I have gone to a party only to struggle to hold a conversation over a television blaring in the background. Vary rarely if the television is turned off, there is a radio going. Something I have never experienced outside of my home and my parent's home complete silence in the background while entertaining guests. Complete silence however, is really just a term invented by the city folk. For me, I can hear the wind rustling through the trees, the crickets chirping, water dripping from the eaves, the ticking of a clock, the creaking of a settling house, etc. I have never experienced complete silence.

I love to backpack. Sitting around the campfire at night watching the wood being reduced to embers, listening to the snaps and crackles of burning wood, the wind blowing through the trees, watching the stars shining in the sky or the moon playing off the surroundings is what I enjoy most. Numerous guests that have joined my on these forays into the wilderness quickly go crazy with this activity and invent ways to entertain everyone usually with silly word games or by telling every little boring detail of their life. I am a storyteller and like telling tales that I have heard or seen as much as the next person but I don't feel the need to spend all night, every night doing so. Sit back, relax, enjoy your surroundings while you can for soon you will be back in the smoggy city, sitting in your SUV at a stoplight and watching a thirty minutes sitcom on the entertainment center that drops down from the ceiling.

Sometimes I just have to escape it all and leave the group to go out on my own. I like to look for the silhouettes of bats flying through the night sky, spot deer rubs or look at tracks and imagine the story of the animal that passed by. I listen for the sounds around me that are ever present and soak in views that I can replay in times when I too can't get away from the city. Mother nature entertains me in a never-ending show if I but stop, watch and listen.

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