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Letter from Rona Carr '74: Communing with Nature

Members of the alumnae/i board, like most SLC alumnae/i, have busy professional and personal lives, and many of us live in or near the biggest metropolis in the country. How do we find the time and space to commune with nature? I decided to ask the board, and here's a sampling of the answers I received.

Georgie Gatch '57 communes with nature while walking on the beach, "rain or shine, winter or summer, close to the water's edge and near the waves." The beach also appeals to Emily Neustadt ‘85. A boogie-boarder and novice surfer, her mantel is filled with shells.

Clarion Johnson '72 also communes with nature through exercise, going on long runs (two or three hours!) that he finds "refreshing, motivating and spiritual."

Kathy Westwater MFA '01 is a choreographer, and gets to experience nature while doing field research for her new dance/performance work, called PARK. She's visited parks around the country, including Yosemite, the new Fresh Kills Park on Staten Island, and "neighborhood parks everywhere, that are so much a part of our day-to-day lives."

Beth-Ann Gentile '65, Jill Vegas MFA '00, and Cookie Tenenbaum Gayle '75 all had beautiful things to say about watching birds and animals.

Gayle, who lives near a river, writes, "I relish the hollow sound of the woodpecker, and marvel at the colors of thebright red cardinal and richness of the blue jay.I love Savannah's spring flowers, the multitude of azalea colors, and the white of the dogwood trees shadowed by the Spanish moss hanging from the live oak trees."

Gentile says, "Several months each year I am in the White Mountains, where I hike, canoe, observe loons, grow vegetables, look for moose, and wonder whether I'll see the great blue heron that comes to our brook each September. In Washington, DC, I live near a park, where I watch a variety of birds, raccoons, many other rodents, and dogs that exercise at the park.On Amelia Island, Florida, I observe reptiles and migratory birds that find the marshes irresistible. I'm lucky nature is all around me in all three locations."

Vegas connects with nature on Shelter Island, where she enjoys the pleasures of a hundred-year-old blueberry patch during the summers. "In winter I watch the birds in the bird feeder, and walk in the Mashomack nature reserve on the island. There's a big open meadow that makes me so happy - it gives me an expansive and beautiful feeling."

As for me, it is a requirement that I always live near a large body of moving water, where I can sit, walk and think.

Never has the need to take care of our home planet, and to appreciate the gifts we have been given, been greater. I hope you find a way of connecting-with nature and with each other-that will support the beauty and life of planet Earth.

Here's to communing with discipline, focus and commitment!

Rona Carr '74