As a child, I often slept outside waiting for comets and meteor showers, wondering about galaxies and where I fit into the whole, wondrous, incredibly gorgeous scheme.
Before drifting off to sleep, I often put birdseed on my sleeping bag in anticipation of a morning visit from a squirrel or wren. I was never disappointed.
My mother modeled gentle stewardship in her catch-and-release (rather than kill) ethic with house spiders, wasps, field mice and any other critters who unwittingly found themselves in our home. My instinct towards curiosity and respect for the natural world grew out of my mother's and grandmother's reverence of Nature. My relationship to Nature is also imbued with my grandmother's depression-era frugality (use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without) and her Quaker simplicity.
Nature references everything that the natural world means to me. Mother Earth, God, perfect balance, the cyclic nature of growing and dying and growing again, the ebb and flow of carbon dioxide and oxygen between flora and fauna as we breathe each other's breath.