August 27, 2017

Nature Abides

Trains ran on this abandoned line, from the 1800s until the 1990s. It linked the cities of Halifax and Yarmouth.

Nature has cycles. Things are born, live, and die, including civilized things such as train travel, which has been dieing a slow death in North America for decades. Through it all, nature abides.

Natural systems are the constant thread stitching together billions of years of Earth's development. It will probably continue for billions more, with us, or without us.

I am reminded of nature's cycles, and humans' path, every time I go for a bike ride on my local Rails to Trails route. For over 100 years, trains serviced the province of Nova Scotia, including a line to the southwest part of the province. It is this line that passes close to my home.

Since the 1990s the trains have been gone, and now it is a multi-use trail. The route passes through a rural area of farms, orchards and wood lots. It would be great if there were still trains here, although it is a great place for a long bike ride away from cars.

It is also great if you are interested in graphic examples of how nature endures our provocations, then carries on as if we were never around. All around are old farmsteads, abandoned, and being reclaimed by field and forest. They are both beautiful and melancholic at the same time.

Along this route one finds evidence that the area is in the later stages of development. Like me, the place is feeling its age.

The best economic conditions in the province were probably about the time it was a major wooden ship building centre. Steel hulled ships may have been good news for our forests, but they didn't do much for the economy here. The second smallest (and most beautiful) province in Canada has been coping ever since.

While other places today are facing similar conditions, Nova Scotia was over the hump long ago, which should make the people here well prepared for a future that will generally be less wealthy than the more lucrative past when resources were more plentiful and easily accessed.

The wooden ships are gone, the trains are gone, and many people are gone, too. One of the things this province is known for are its migrants going west to other provinces in search of work. In the past 5 years the county I live in has lost 4% of it population.

As you might surmise, the folks around here are indeed rugged and resourceful, by necessity. It is not hard to see the people here thriving in conditions more similar to the province's roots than more recent modern times.

I don't mind, coming from the west of Canada in areas that were growing at a frenzied rate. Such growth is a double edged sword. While it may be good for maintaining a certain standard of living, it is not so good for ones mental health if you are sensitive to the destruction that goes along with rapid growth.

I like life at a much slower, gentler pace, and Nova Scotia is all of that. Here, as I pass by the weathered wood siding, and rusty pump handles, I am reminded that civilizations have come to be, flourished, and are eventually swallowed by the deep sands. Or soil, or jungle, forest, or water. Gone, and that's ok.

We are not exceptional. We are not above the laws of Nature, no matter how much we deny them, or try to cheat our way out with technological saves. "And so it goes", as Kurt Vonnegut said.

Through it all, Nature abides. I find that uncomfortably comforting.


  1. Anonymous8/28/2017

    Natural rhythms are everywhere and accepting and embracing them is part of cultivation. I'm doing a lot of work around the sympathetic nervous system which appears to be a gateway to the natural world correlating with slowing down and feeling more connected,the wilder a place is the calmer you feel. Tai Chi can work on the vagus nerve and meditation works with the rhytmn of the breath. Conversely the rate of psychosis increases with urban density.
    Keep enjoying your time in nature.

  2. Indeed nature abides, and I never failed to be impressed at how fast she repairs herself when we get out of the way. Even if we manage to destroy ourselves with all of our rushing, striving and consuming, nature will endure. It may take a bit of time for things to repair, but I am confident that long after we are gone the earth will flourish once more.



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