By Scott A. Yeager for GANT News
Americans love a winner; even more specific to that point, Americans love an underdog. You know, those people who defy all odds, yet still come out on top.
Both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison have been credited with unique versions of an age-old American theme – “I didn’t fail 100 times, I learned 99 ways that didn’t work,” or something to that effect.
The point is that we human beings are a tenacious lot; and yet in spite of all of Life’s challenges, we persist. We’re not so different from Nature in that respect.
Today, it can be easy to view yourself as something separate from Nature. The Pennsylvania Wilds exist to help remedy that error in judgement.
People come to the Pennsylvania Wilds for a number of reasons. Some people visit our misty hills and deep valleys to lose themselves.
Some people explore our waterways and the starry skies above to find themselves. All who visit our region learn more about themselves.
One could almost consider the forest canopy as the roof of one of our planet’s premiere universities. Our valleys are as fine a lecture hall as any in Oxford or Berkley.
The vistas born from high atop our mountains are as life altering as any discovered from the clock towers of Notre Dame or even our very own Old Main.
You see, we and Nature are dependent upon one another, we share the same characteristic resilience that binds all Life on planet Earth.
From Bradford to Brockway, from Clearfield to Clarion, the communities of north-central Pennsylvania have seen their fair share of lumber mills, coal mines, manufacturing plants and farms.
Given our accomplishments and advanced technologies, human beings may feel the need to puff our chests out and declare a victory over the natural world. Poor Nature, what an underdog in the face of such blind hubris.
Take a drive along Route 6, Route 322, Route 255 and even Interstate 80, and you will see an interesting phenomenon.
Where human beings have been, where their industry has thrived and waned and where farms or homes once provided comfort to families, Nature has reclaimed what is hers.
What’s that old saying about the shoe being on the other foot? Do we ever really own anything, or do we just borrow it from Nature?
Travel the Pennsylvania Wilds, and you’ll come to appreciate just how close we are to the natural world. Better yet, let your lawn go for a few weeks and you’ll see it first-hand. Nature is never far from us.
Being close to Nature in the Pennsylvania Wilds is an easy way to re-learn or to re-discover why persistence and living in accord with one’s environment is critical to thriving in this life.
It’s Nature’s way, our way. Active learning, experiential learning is natural. Challenges are a welcome thing. They compel us to think, to adapt and to seek a solution, so that we can do what all living things do best – grow and evolve.
We, like Nature, are in a state of becoming. The next time you drive past a clump of grape vines that looks like a ‘68 Ford, think not about the rusted metal or cracked glass – marvel at the strength of the vine and the breadth of its leaves.
When you see an old mill, storefront, home or train depot that is being reclaimed by sumac and every manner of wild plant, be mindful of your contributions to this world.
What endures in human beings endures in Nature, what we merely borrow will ever be returned. Be persistent. Don’t just live on the world, live in it.
New and enduring discoveries await you in Pennsylvania’s wild places, the university for what is universally best in us all.