Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Art of Seeing Things

Summit of Bonticou Crag, Mohonk Preserve, New Paltz NY

One of my favorite authors is John Burroughs.  He was a contemporary of John Muir and cut from the same mold.  The main difference between the two is where John Muir traveled widely through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, John Burroughs spent the great majority of his time at home in his beloved Catskill Mountains of New York.  The enthusiasm with which both described Nature has few parallels in nature writing.  I have always been drawn more to Burroughs though because of his ability to allow the reader to see  the nature that is available to everyone just outside their back door.  His essays, whether they were written about a common robin or some exotic animal that may have been passing through, always gives you the chance to see something in a new light or from a different angle. To Burroughs, no nature observation is mundane.

One of my favorite Burroughs essays is The Art of Seeing Things.  The main theme that pervades this essay is that of awareness of  nature that surrounds us and to what degree people display this awareness.  According to Burroughs, "Power of attention and a mind sensitive to outward objects, in these lies the secret of seeing things."  The naturalist, the hunter, the angler, the tracker and certain other professionals are all practitioners of "the art of seeing things" to some degree.  I have always tried to better my ability to "see" so that I may gain a better understanding of my world whether it be while I'm fishing or simply going for walk in the woods.  However, as I have grown older and looked around I have found so many who are tuned out and unaware of the potential dangers and the beauty of the world that surrounds them

Whitetail Deer antler rub, Long Island Pine Barrens
Personally, I think it's important that this trend be reversed.  Before there can be understanding there must be awareness and observation.  Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object (or Nature), situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal with that object in an intelligent manner.  How can one appreciate Nature or deal with a problem that poses a danger to us if we are not aware of it?  The answer is simple....YOU CAN'T!

Black Bear Tracks, Minnewaska State Park, Gardiner NY
As 2011 comes to a close and with 2012 staring us in the face, I have decided it is time to more fully utilize the potential of this medium of blogging for greater awareness.  I suspect that many of the individuals who read this blog and many of the other wonderful outdoor blogs like it already have a well developed sense of awareness, practice the art of seeing things and truly love the outdoors and all that it entails. I still plan on writing about the things I love about fishing and Nature but I also plan to step up my game on certain topics or come at things from a different angle in the coming year.  Blogging about the things you love about the outdoors contributes to this awareness.  If you let others know about the beauty and excitement of something important to you they be more inclined to help you protect it. My challenge to you and all other outdoor bloggers for 2012 is to continue blogging about the things you love and think are important but add a little extra something to help increase the general public awareness of the world around them.  This will ultimately lead to better understanding and intelligent actions that will benefit all of us as well as those who will follow in our footsteps.  May everyone have a Happy and Healthy 2012!

Climb to top of Bonticou Crag


  1. Wonderful piece and open our eyes. Cheers to 2012...

  2. Thanks Erin...Happy New Year to you and yours!

  3. Remember the railroad crossing sign,
    There's so much to enjoy.

  4. Brk Trt...I guess that is good advice no matter what the situation is. Thanks, Happy 2012 to you and yours!