Have you ever seen the stars shine so bright you almost needed to squint your eyes? On peaceful nights when I look up at the dazzling stars shining above our family cabin on the slopes of the Colorado Rockies, I understand the power of nature to make me feel both truly insignificant and greatly magnified at the same time. It’s the reason I prominently feature wild places and creatures in all of my books: I truly believe in the enduring power of nature to heal and inspire. And it’s why I believe it’s absolutely essential that we preserve our natural world for all time.
Wilderness has the power to reach us, stirring our souls in strong and surprising ways. As a young boy on our ranch there was an ancient ponderosa pine that was a favorite haunt of mine. Its gnarled roots were the perfect place for a kid with his head in the clouds to sit and daydream. In time, I began to wonder just what that old tree had seen in its centuries. What stories would it tell of the raging of forest fires, the silent gathering of snow year after year, or the people who had passed by? If trees could talk, this quiet witness to the cycle of seasons and centuries could give us a perspective of life here on this planet that we humans lack. What would it tell us, I wonder, about our place in the world, and how we are treating the planet which nurtures us?
The power of nature to open our minds to see the larger world is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about cherishing our planet. Every one of us — city dwellers and country folk, young and old, people of every description — stands to lose if the environment is polluted and our resources are devoured. If we do not care for and nurture the earth we have been given, we risk losing it all. And the biggest losers will be our children and grandchildren, who might never know the grandeur and beauty of an unspoiled wilderness; might never discover the absolute inspiration to be had within natural spaces.
To destroy and devour our fragile Mother Earth is to destroy ourselves. And to save this planet, with all its wondrous creatures, is to save ourselves.