We live in a beautiful world.  No matter where I go in this world there is something beautiful.  The world around us was created for us, for our benefit and use.  But the Lord didn’t create it just to be a useful tool, He wanted us to be happy here, to find beauty in the world around us, to see the variety and realize that there are many different kinds of beauty.  This Friday my oldest and youngest child and I went to Whittier and then on to Seward. This has to be one of the most beautiful drives in Alaska. There is ocean and coast line, blue rivers and lakes, mountain passes and forests. We saw so many bald eagles, and a couple of moose. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. I have recently been pondering on my love of nature and some of the things I have experienced and seen, and I thought I would share a few with you.

I grew up in the desert southwest, in Southern Utah.  Not much water, it seemed like we were always having a drought and having to conserve water.  This year is extremely dry. But the sage brush, I love the smell and color.  The rocks and mountains, I love the red and orange, sometimes yellow and even white rocks found in that area, along with the white trunks of the aspen, the green leaves in the summer, and where I lived, it snowed in the winter.  I loved every season.  It was amazing what would grow there as well.  We had a garden, as well as fruit trees, and my mom always has beautiful flowers around the house and yard.  There is so much inspiration and peace there.

Now I live in Alaska, and there is beauty.  Usually there is no worry about drought here, although we have had a few wildfires rip through our community on dry years.  The trees are green all summer, so many trees.  It rains regularly, and I don’t know if it’s from growing up in the desert or what, but I love the rain, I love the sound of rain, and I love the smell of rain, it smells fresh.  In the winter, the snow is almost always fresh, clean and white, because it snows a lot.  When it gets really cold, the hoar frost is the most beautiful thing you have seen, it’s like God dumped glitter, the perfect amount everywhere, and it just glistens.  Looking out the windows during the day, there is always some sort of animal to see, whether it’s birds, fox, moose, on rare occasion a bear.  It is beautiful!

Growing up in the desert, everywhere was dry, so water is a premium, and any free-flowing water is fun to find and play in.  In Southern Utah there is a place called Red Cliffs.  It’s not a huge tourist attraction like Zion or Arches National Park.  Maybe that’s why I loved it so much, not as many people.  But it was a great place to hike and picnic.  There was a small stream that ran through the area, down through the cliffs and across the road.  I remember going there so many times as a family, playing in the water, and hiking through the cliff areas and waterfalls.  As a teenager, that is the first place that I went rappelling.  I love the pace of life that is associated with slowing down and seeing nature, seeing beauty. This place is pretty dry, but that little bit of water added a depth of beauty and a variety of plants that only exists in the desert where there is water.

When our kids were young, we went for a vacation down to visit family in Utah, and we went on a hike to Cascade Falls.  I was hiking by my brother and we were talking about the trees.  He told me to go smell one of the large pine trees.  I thought he was being funny, but he said no, it smells like cinnamon.  I didn’t believe him, so I smelled the tree, and sure enough, the bark smelled like cinnamon.  We always hear that we should stop and smell the roses, but how often do we stop and smell the trees?  I am grateful for his invitation to smell the tree, and have done so on many occasions since then, not just in Utah.  Most trees don’t smell like cinnamon, but they do smell wonderful.  I am grateful for the scent of nature and that he had taken the time to smell the trees and that he would share that information/experience with me.

My husband doesn’t really like to hike.  Plus, his job is more of a seasonal job, so he works all summer.  But one summer I convinced him to go hiking with us.  We went to Girdwood and hiked the Winner Creek Trail to a hand tram, and then back again.  There was a lot of people at the hand tram when we got there, but we were basically alone on the trail.  It was a wooded trail, peaceful and quiet most of the way.  We listened to the birds and enjoyed all the old man’s beard hanging from the trees.  It felt like we had been transported to a different time.  It had been raining earlier, and was misty and cool, but not raining when we started. The sun eventually come out part way through our hike and the water glistened off all the fresh green foliage.  Everything was fresh and clean from the rain earlier and it was beautiful.  I was grateful that day for the fresh green color that was so vibrant from the recent cleaning from the rain.  As I have learned to paint, I see color differently, and I loved the color that day.

One year we went on a Fjords tour out of Seward.  It was windy and raining when we were waiting for our boat, but when we got on the water, the rain stopped, and the ocean was calm.  I have been on whale watching tours before, when we never saw anything.  But not this trip.  We saw whales, there were sea lions out sunning themselves near the shoreline.  We saw puffins on the cliffs, flying around, and diving under the water.  There was so much life out there.  I was so grateful to be on that particular cruise (especially since I didn’t get motion sick), and I am so grateful for the variety of animals that populate our earth.  There is so much variety and beauty the Lord has blessed us with on this earth.  I am grateful for the sea animals and birds that we saw that day.

I love taking time to get out in nature. I have never regretted being outside. It doesn’t matter where I’ve been there is something beautiful to be seen and experienced. What do you love about nature?

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