noun: the material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities; the natural world as it exists without human beings or civilization; the elements of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers.

This is my “N” contribution to the “A to Z Challenge.”

Even though I’m a perpetual homebody, I have always found nature itself to be fascinating and serene.

I didn’t always get outside as often as I would have liked, and that’s all changed since we brought Chymera home to join our family. One of the perks of not having a fenced in yard and having a large dog is that we get to go on walks, 2-3 times a day, every day.

Our walks don’t always take the same path each time – sometimes we branch outside of our little neighborhood and take some of the scenic, hidden paths in our little cluster of Wyoming to keep things new and fresh.

During an hour long walk with Chymera (she wasn’t feeling well and refused to #2, hence the length), we took a couple of the hidden paths that link my street across 2 other neighborhoods/streets. We walked through a neighborhood into a wooden path that opened up into a large field next to one of the local churches. Then climbed the hill and trekked on the dirt path into what appears to be someone’s back yard before you proceed to ANOTHER path that leads you down a gravel strip of land before you appear in a swampy area before hiking up another hill to get back onto Flint Trail and paved road.

I used to hate the silence of walks – I would always have my headphones in and listen to some music or a podcast and ignore my surroundings almost entirely. Now, I enjoy listening to the birds to see if I can figure out which breed it is; or the sounds of people mowing their lawns, talking to neighbors, kids playing in the street or shouting at each other in the back yard. I like hearing the ducks fight with the geese that all call the lake near our home their nesting grounds (pun intended).

The best sounds are the ones at night.

During the day, our neighborhood is generally pretty quiet – at times so quiet that you can hear the cars on the freeway several miles away.

But at night – that’s when our little piece of paradise comes alive.

Our property butts up to a small… pond? Swamp? A body of water of indeterminate size. Certainly no lake, at least not by Minnesota standards. And in that body of water lives TONS of wildlife: frogs, ducks, toads and mosquitoes. Lots and lots of mosquitoes.

As the sun starts to set, you can hear the crickets and frogs and toads all singing together in a cacophony of sound that is at once both annoying yet soothing. It will occasionally be broken up by the sounds of deer walking through the brush in the back of our property, rustling in the leaves and snapping twigs and scattered branches. And on some nights, if we’re really lucky, out of the blue you’ll hear the call of a Great Horned Owl – those nights are my favorite.

Yes, for being a perpetual homebody, I never truly appreciated nature until I was able to call it my home.

❤ Linz