I had a certain kinship with nature at a young age, growing up on an old farm with thirty five acres of fields and woodland.
Climbing fallen trees and the guardians that stood alive
Catching frogs at the stream
Running through fields of long grass
Sitting in an old crab apple tree
Hours spent sledding
Building snow forts
Sitting by bonfires
Listening to the mournful calls of coyote
Being lost in the night sky, meandering through the speckles of stars
Catching snakes, birds and bats that made their way into the house
Investigating the brilliant work of beavers
A magical moment standing next to a white tail dear for what seemed an eternity, then to watch her run off into the distance.
When I was sixteen the farm was sold and we moved to another property, this time fifteen acres, mostly wooded with one wide open field at the back of the property.
The field, a low lying valley surrounded by coniferous woods to the right and deciduous woods to the left.
In the centre of the field I discovered something that would change my life.
A teenage life fraught with anxiety over secrets, lies, betrayal and trauma.
There wasn’t anyone I could turn to in my despair and confusion. The pain ran deep, I acted out in ways that brought me shame.
Walking the trail through the woods to the wide open valley I stood looking curiously at a single boulder. How did it get there? I wondered.
I approached the large granite rock with intrigue, climbed on top and took in the expansive view.
I sat on the rough surface, took in the hot sun and the air around me with the smell of grass.
I sat for a long time, it felt like a hundred pounds of anxiety and pain had been lifted, my mind was empty of thoughts, no worries, no pain, just silence and the expanse of nature all around me.
For the next two years until I moved away for school I would walk through the woods through rain, sun and snow and into the field regularly to sit on the rock, the rock I had discovered, the rock no one knew about.
That single rock in an isolated valley far from dwellings became a private retreat. A place for solitude, a place to connect with the spirit of nature, a place to connect with inner peace and guidance.
From the rock I learned the importance of solitude, how to still my mind, how to be even more curious and compassionate with the natural world. Each time I came upon the rock, I was coming home, because the rock was me and I was the rock, together we were one.
The connection was deep, the healing was real and the learning was life changing.
By Rachel Reeve
Nova Scotia based visual artist Rachel Reeve, a graduate from NSCAD University has been honing her skills in Gyotaku, a form of nature printing. As an interdisciplinary artist her practice includes, drawing, printmaking, mixed media and installation. Nature is the common thread connecting various disciplines. Journaling daily over twenty five years has been a grounding activity helping her find her voice through words and in the practice of visual arts. www.rachelreeveart.com