As far back as I can remember I have been curious about nature, both flora and fauna.
Behind our little house in South Miami, when I was in junior high, I had a container garden. I had taken an old picnic table bench, a few pots, and soil from the area around our banana trees in the backyard.
I grew tropical plants, but also cultivated bonsai.
In our front yard, we had a huge ficus tree. One of my favorite things when I was between 8 and 13 was to climb among the tree’s dense foliage and hide. I loved looking down upon my family members knowing that they couldn’t find me.
But it was mostly the shade and cool leaves that refreshed my tired and stressed soul. This tree fed me in ways that food couldn’t.
When I was in my 20s, we moved to the Texas Hill Country. I learned to enjoy day hikes and fishing. I loved to pitch my tent in one of Texas’ amazing state parks and sleep among the live oaks, cedar and hunting, scavenging amardillos.
When I was in my 30s I purchased my first digital camera. While I captured my children playing, climbing, jumping and celebrating holidays and birthdays, I as often pointed my camera at my garden plants, the plant life I encountered in my yard and on neighborhood walks, and the occasional egret, pelican and seagull (because we were living in St. Petersburg, Florida).
Many, many years later, I landed in Connecticut where I am still (but only until this summer where I will join my heart which I left in Texas in 1992).
Connecticut is beautiful.
I remember clearly the moment in October 1999 when we reached the state of Connecticut with a minivan full of kids, a cat, and our suitcases. I declared that the whole state is like a park.
My years here, though painful in many ways, have given me access to a level of nature I had never known before, especially when we moved to a small town to live on a few acres of land in the woods.
After becoming sick with Lyme disease and not recovering, I was reminded that nature could be cruel.
What I had once loved became frightening for me as I was reinfected with Lyme disease multiple times.
One day I just decided that I was going to go outside and walk in the grass again. I had hidden from nature for years out of fear of reinfection.
I decided to grow a vegetable garden again. I planted some ornamental plants in the flower beds and began to spread wildflower seeds from plants that popped up around the property.
And I photographed it all.
Yes, I found deer ticks on me, but I was sick already. So what?
My time in the garden fed my soul.
I took walks on many of the hike and bike trails in nearby towns.
My body ached, but my soul was nourished.
And I knew that no matter what happens in life, I must never again stay away from nature, because it is definitely one of my favorite things.