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This author is a recipient

of the Sigma Tau Delta Award

Sigma Tau Delta Awarde

Luke Auge

is currently a biology student at St. Ambrose University from Chillicothe, Illinois. He would like to thank Patrick Connelly and Amy Blair, both of whom have pushed him to explore different fields and to push his limits. Auge finds inspiration in the works of Annie Dillard and E.O. Wilson, who find a connection between wildlife and literature.


When despair grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting for their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world and am free.

-Wendell Berry

Walk across your lawn and feel the grass beneath your feet. For a second, close your eyes and imagine your surroundings and everything around you. Breathe in, breathe out, be with nature, and reflect. The roots beneath you stretch out in networks far wider than we can remember. The wind that moves along your back and through your hair carries the songs of birds and the pollen from the trees and flowers. You are part of nature; you always have been.

Your eyes slowly open and the light rushes onto your eyes and blinds you for a second. Like a baby coming out of the womb, you are exposed to a new world. As you look around, you notice every organism working together in naturalistic harmony. The giant sycamore tree standing tall lends home to the squirrels. Yet the tree would not be there if it wasn’t for the mycorrhizal fungus in the soil. And when that tree dies, the fungus will take advantage and grow on the rotted bark. The flow of this natural energy seems lost to us in our concrete and rebar dreamscape, but we are not so disconnected.

We tend to like the idea of us, humans, being far disconnected from the primal wild side of nature that we see on our phones. This is all part of our grand delusion that humans are some kind of special anomaly that rose above the rest. While looking out the window at a hawk flying high above the trees, does the accountant laugh at the hawk's inability to make a spreadsheet? Or does the accountant wish for the vagabond life and untethered soul, flying with the wind and finding the carnal nature in its heart? We stand looking in the mirror and hyper-fixate on our humanity but yearn for the natural side. How foolish of us to believe we can leave behind our tree roots. Only a species that has built structures up to the clouds and has touched the stars could possibly forget the roots that tether us down.

Do we not love the same as the swans in a British lake? No, humans are cruel and evil creatures who stray from the path and go through love like playing cards. Do we not work as hard as the ants below? No, we are a lazy species, always looking for shortcuts and trying to get out of work. Even our eyes, which we live by, do not compare to the Mantis Shrimp which can see hundreds more colors. That is the true beauty of the human race, our arrogance. We are born and grow surrounded by synthetics, yet we think we are as tough as nature. Only a species that can feel the shame of their shortcomings can genuinely understand another species’ grace. We look to nature to remind ourselves where we came from and what we are truly capable of.

The falcon will continue to fly, and the sycamore will grow toward the sky, but we as humans will always change. That is the true nature of humans, change, but when the change moves too fast, and we do not want to move, we can stand and watch nature. There lies the true beauty of nature in an ever-persistent march. So when you stand there moving with the wind, you stand with all the organisms that swayed with the wind. Look around and see the landscape, the hills, the rivers, and the creeks. Look at how time has shifted all of them. Winding and bending the river, making them curve in the most beautiful ways, adding layers of biodiversity to the creek bed, moving the hills slowly at a time making a living landscape.

Take to nature, run into the creek, swim in the lake, and roll down the hills. Weep at the base of willow trees and sing with the birds up high. We have such a short life. Why not enjoy the portrait nature has painted for us? Before we know it, humanity may throw out the painting altogether. Enjoy it while we can. Life is too short to only connect with one species. So while you stand there, eyes closed and wind in your lungs, smile and embrace nature. And for just a moment, think. And feel.

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