Nature Portfolio (2nd Quarter)

The Most Beautiful Thing                                                    Word Count: 350

By far, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen was the sun setting during a warm, summer day. It was the summer of 2010, and I was visiting my cousins like I did every year in Dubuque, Iowa. We were all outside, just walking around the neighborhood, laughing and talking about the day’s events. Stopping for a bit and sitting down on a long bench right outside of Fulton Park, we let the warm wind hit our faces and breeze through our hair. The talking started again but during the middle of our conversation, I looked up at the sky and my ears immediately shut off. I no longer cared about what they were saying but more about that simple, beautiful act of nature that I was witnessing. I had heard them talking next to me but I didn’t know exactly what they were saying. I was simply amazed by the gorgeous colors that the sun had sent into the sky as it was slowly setting. The beauty of this event was absolutely breath-taking. The sun sent out rays of light that were first, a bright yellow and orange color but as time passed, they went from yellow and orange to a bright pink and purple mixture. Those colors lit up the sky, creating a very pleasing view. The mood outside was a very serene one. The gentle wind blew past us, softly tapping us on the face as it quickly moved along its course. The sun, sending out beautiful and colorful rays all around, seemed to brighten up the flowers that were standing tall in the vibrant green grass. They shined like no others as the sun slowly set. The light winds, the beauty of the sun, and the bright flowers in the green grass, all made for a very relaxing moment. Even though the sun was almost set and all that was left of it was a small piece, it still managed to give the sky a beautiful blue color. Sitting there, basking in that soothing moment, I was able to truly capture the beauty of nature. 

Weather Experience                                                                                 

I stepped out on the front porch, letting my aunt's dog Toby out so he could use the bathroom and get some fresh air. Toby slowly dragged himself down the stairs, breathing heavily even though he had only been out there for a minute. I noticed that it was unusually hot outside that day. I slid my foot out of my sandal and stepped on the concrete. It was burning. I knew it was summer but I had never experienced weather at this temperature. It was this summer when I encountered my first heat wave. I was in Kokomo, Indiana, visiting my cousins like I did every summer. When I first arrived, in June, the summer weather was typical summer weather. Hot enough that you needed a nice, cool drink with you but not so hot that it prevented you from going outside. That all changed once July came. Temperatures rose above 104 degrees in Kokomo, the hottest weather I had ever felt. It was some days where we wouldn't even go outside, knowing that as soon as we would step out there, we would quickly run back in the house, headed straight for the refrigerator. The only times my cousins and I would go out during the heat wave was when we were going to a pool, a beach or any place where we could be in cool water. Despite the scorching weather, the heat wave provided a great opportunity for me to spend quality time with my family as we were all inside the house, crowded in front of the air conditioner instead of hanging outside with different people, separated from each other.

Textbook Responses                                                                                

The Corn Planting by Sherwood Anderson                                                                                 Word Count: 230
Out of all of the stories we read, this one was my favorite because it was really touching and it showcased a really unique relationship between Hatch and his wife and nature. The feeling that planting corn gave Hatch and his wife was truly beautiful. Corn planting gave them an escape from all of the happenings of their daily lives, whether it was good or bad. “....and there, in the moonlight, that night, after they got that news, they were planting corn.” This line really speaks to their strength because even with receiving the news that their son had died, they still found the strength to carry on and continue with their corn planting and that alone tells how big an impact planting had on both of their lives. It had the ability to calm them down and ease the pain of the news. What that activity did for them is similar to what my music does for me. If something bad happens, my music gives me an escape from it. If something good happens, I can put my headphones in and that good thing quickly turns into a great thing. Besides this story relating to me, it also relates to everyday people because people often focus all of their attention on their work to keep their mind off of a recent death or just anything bad that has happened. 

Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant                                                                                     Word Count: 241
I really enjoyed reading the poem “Thanatopsis” just because of the different approach to death it tells one to take. When we first read it, I was really confused because of how the author’s sentences were structured but once we analyzed it line by line and put everything together, I understood it and I thought it sent a very positive message. Don’t approach death “like the quarry-slave at night, Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed.” This line really sums up the entire poem as it was all about how death shouldn’t be viewed as this horrible and scary thing. It should be looked at as something peaceful and a place where one will be equal with everyone else. This poem had an effect on me personally as it made me view death in a completely different way than what I did before. I always thought of dying as this scary event but after reading this poem, it really put me at ease. It showed me that if you approach death in a scared manner, than it will be horrible once it happens but if you approach it in a calm and accepting manner, it will be a very peaceful event. It’s all about your attitude towards death that really affects your experience. This poem, while it may be confusing at first, sends a really strong message about one’s attitude towards dying and it gives a positive view on death.

Grass by Carl Sandburg                                                                                                         Word Count: 232
Sandburg really gave me a different view of grass. What made this such a special poem was its deeper meaning. It wasn’t about the beauty of grass physically but more about the beauty of the job that grass does time after time. “Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo. Shovel them under and let me work--I am the grass; I cover all.” These lines really illustrate the simple things that not only grass does, but what nature does as a whole. Nature has the ability to heal all and fix everything, no matter how big it may be. Sandburg writes about how things such as the deadly effects of wars and the destruction of land by men are all eliminated by nature's gentle work. The way Sandburg words the poem is brilliant. “Let me work.” That simple line says a lot about grass as it shows that it is persistent in doing its job of covering up the dirty work of mankind. He makes it seem not as if grass was forced to cover up the scars made by war but that grass was meant to do this. People are so blinded by what they believe to be the simplicity of grass that it’s hard for them to realize that grass isn’t just a part of nature, it is a part of life as it has seen and healed all. 

The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow                                                   Word Count: 228
The interpretation of “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls” really varies from person to person just because it could mean so many things. When I first read it, it seemed to have two different meanings. One thought was that every aspect of this poem was representative of life. We are all just travelers, experiencing all we can on earth before our journey ends and we die. The rising and falling of the tide shows the birth and death of people and the footprints being washed away shows how ultimately, we all have the same impact on earth and that impact will be washed away by nature and we will be forgotten. “The day returns, but nevermore/Returns the traveler to the shore/And the tide rises, the tide falls.” This line shows the second point I thought the poem made. People change but nature doesn’t. The traveler in this poem does something different as he doesn’t return to the shore even though he had come days before. The traveler represents the life of a person in general and as time passes, people change and move on to new things. The fact that the tide always washes away the footprints, doing the same thing overtime, shows that no matter what is happening around it, nature will remain unchanged and unaffected. It is the one constant in this life of ever-changing things. 

To Build a Fire by Jack London                                                                                               Word Count: 202
When I began reading this story, it seemed really dull and boring but once the man’s journey got started and his battle with nature began, it became more interesting. Ultimately, I feel the story was about man’s inability to control nature. The man was aware of the fact that it was fifty below in the Yukon from prior knowledge and thanks to the old-timer from Sulphur Creek, he learned that once it became that cold, one should travel with a partner because it is almost impossible to survive in the cold weather all alone. Instead of listening to himself and the Sulphur Creek guy, he still went out into the cold alone. The man felt as if he was an exception to the rule, like he wouldn’t die at the hands of Mother Nature like all the others did. This shows how stubborn he was because he thought he could win the battle with the cold for survival which would mean conquering nature since surviving in that weather was difficult. He tried to control nature when he should have heeded the advice of the man from Sulphur Creek and just recognized "man’s place in the universe" and then lived within those limitations.

Native American Creation Story                                            Word Count: 583

There was once a God named Harium Henry Oxtor who lived in the Heavens of Power. He was the most powerful god and was respected by all. His main duty was to watch over the people of the earth below, called Earthlings, and make sure they did their daily rituals and followed all rules given to them by the Gods. Harium was a very simple ruler. If you did what you were told, he would be very nice and generous but if you went against his wishes, you would be severely punished. 

Harium had just finished his meal, rubbing his stomach to show how good the food was. His wife smiled, appreciating her husband’s kind gesture. She grabbed the dishes and put them up just as Harium grabbed his Orb of Viewing. This tricky little device was what Harium used to monitor the Earthlings behavior. He turned it on, glancing at various spots on the little ball to make sure everyone was saying their daily five o’clock prayers. Everything was going accordingly until he turned the orb and looked at the bottom. There was a small village of people in Tuskaga who weren’t saying their prayers. He picked up his scepter and tapped himself once then Tuskaga twice. Soon his body flattened into a green streak and he quickly flew into the disobedient village of people.

“Who dare put my power to test?” he questioned, shocking the little people.
“Why, what ever do you mean sir?” replied small Jured, big Jured’s son.
“Is it not five o’clock? Why aren’t you earthlings praying? You all are begging to be punished,” Harium yelled, pointing his sharp scepter at them.
“Well sir, we feel as if you don’t acknowledge us. Here in Tuskaga, we are all the way at the bottom of your Orb and so you hardly notice us. Sometimes we skip a prayer or two because honestly, you don’t see us so why should we praise you?” the town rebel Poltun said, standing tall against his fellow townspeople. His remarks angered God Harium. Never had he encountered such disrespect from one of his creations. His eyes turned black and his hair turned red. He elevated above the ground and aimed his scepter at the small town. An orange streak of fire flew from his scepter, burning through the people and the luscious green land below them. What Harium expected was for the land and the people to be turned into black ash but what he got was something completely different. The burning caused the green land to melt, creating this weird, blue liquid. This liquid instead covered all of the burnt town before the overpowering the remains of Tuskaga and dissolving them. This small area of blue liquid was called a lake. Harium, while shocked, was also intrigued by this substance. He went back to the Heavens of Power and told his wife everything that had happened. She was amazed and wanted to see this liquid also. She grabbed his scepter and shot hot fire into an abandoned area. This too turned into the blue liquid.

In the years that followed, Harium had run-ins with five other disobedient Earthlings from major regions of the Orb. He burned them too, creating what we now call the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and Arctic oceans. Other small areas were destroyed, creating lakes and rivers. The weird, blue liquid was given the name H2O, the initials of God Harium Henry Oxtor but most people just called it water. 

Nature Poem                                                                                            

Sincerely, The Hurricane

The barometer falls
The winds pick up
The oceans swell
And grey clouds come up (4)               

A watch is issued
People become afraid
Some run inside
Preparing for rain (8)

I don’t want to hurt
I don’t want to scare
But I have to do it
So you should prepare (12)

The winds are stronger
Guiding the waves
The warning is out
Prepare your grave (16)

For I am coming
I cannot stop
Clouds get lower
The barometer drops (20)

If you live in areas
That has land that’s low
You should leave now
For I cannot slow (24)

The wind is heavy
The water is near
The houses are locked
The people in fear (28)

I have now passed
Taking my heavy rains
I am sorry for the damage
Sincerely, the hurricane. (32)

Reaction To Essays                                                            Word Count: 358

The Sound of Trees by Robert Frost
The Force That Drives the Flower by Annie Dillard
Walking by Henry David Thoreau

In “The Sound of Trees” by Robert Frost, the trees are crying, begging for an escape from society but they can’t leave because of their deep roots. The author wishes to be a tree, to be pushed around by the winds and still be able to stay in the same place but ultimately, he realizes he can’t because he “shall set forth for somewhere” and “make the reckless choice.” This shows how we can’t be one with nature. People and nature can never be the same because ultimately, we have to move on and die while nature remains the same, unaffected by our actions. This idea of people and nature never being equal is what Annie Dillard showed in “The Force That Drives the Flower.” In the lines “Plants are not our competitors; they are our prey and our nesting materials” and “these primitive trees can fight city hall and win,” Dillard is saying how we humans spend our lives trying to control and conquer nature but in the end, we fail because nature cannot be controlled. The fact that the trees won the fight with City Hall shows how nature is really in control of us. We constantly try to be the “top dog” but no matter how the situations play out, nature always wins. We should stop trying to be equal with nature and instead take in all that nature has to offer which is what Thoreau was saying in “Walking.” Nature should be used as an escape; somewhere a person can go to simply be free and be “so blessed as to lose themselves for half an hour in the woods.” The ability to experience this freedom is only given to walkers. Walkers are the people who truly enjoy nature and experience all that it has. These poems all relate because they tell how we shouldn’t spend our lives being apart of the “select class” (Thoreau) that tries to conquer nature because we can’t do that. Instead we should take the time to appreciate nature because no matter how many “talks of going” (Dillard) it may have, it will always be around and in control. 

Responses to Classmates: Done                                                                                      

1 comment:

  1. Relating to Corn Planting, i liked how Hatch and his wife used corn planting as an outlook for their emotions. Many people do things to forget how they are feeling and i thought that the author was trying to create a direct connection between the characters and real people so that we can become closer to the characters and nature itself. (61)