I Asked Nature Out On A Date

Avalina Kreska
4 min readOct 29, 2023

Nature, or the ‘Great Outdoors’, wasn’t always celebrated the way it is today in stunning 8K otherworldy clarity, or people camping alone in extreme conditions for the thrill of ‘survival’, it was considered a place of danger. You could die if you didn’t employ a guide to offer safe passage through the wilderness, this was certainly true of the impenetrable Ashdown Forest in the UK centuries ago, when Britain still had brown bears, wild pigs and wolves. Puritan writers such as William Bradford and Jonathan Edwards often wrote about the dangers of nature, as they saw it as a source of temptation and evil.

Back in 2013/2014, Prince Charles intended to look into reintroducing the wolf back into Scotland, granted, it was to help with deer culling but the term ‘rewilding’ has become a sentimental one, with our imagination stretching only to large mammals, ignoring the micro-habitats we’ve lost often due to mankind’s heavy footprint.

Francesca Osowska, chief executive of NatureScot, said that plans to rewild large areas of the countryside could alienate local people such as farmers.

She told The Guardian: “We need to think about rewilding as a much broader concept. We need to think about restoring all of nature, not just large mammals.

“And that goes from the pine hoverfly to ensuring that we’ve the right mix of forestry — different land types to have that mosaic of habitats.

“The vision I want is of a nature-rich future. Nature-rich means we’re all touched by and living in harmony with nature and able to benefit from it.”

Today, we still romanticise nature, or as the political philosopher and cultural theorist, Slavoj Žižek made mention along the lines of: ‘Mother Nature’ has ‘religious’ overtones, that worshipping Mother Nature is to forget that the natural world was born of a series of cataclysmic events; the oil and energy we now use is an example of that.

Nature as a Goddess isn’t a new idea, take Emily Bronte and her pantheistic poetry, or Emerson, like the Romantics, who saw nature as a source of spiritual inspiration and of course much further back in the annals of Greek mythology and even further back in pre-historical society where some say the Venus figurines portray Nature as feminine, who accompanied them in death and regeneration.

As I look out on the old croft ruins across the field from my house, I’m reminded that back in the days of subsistence living, the Shetland Islands were (and still are) a place of extreme weather and long term damp conditions. Life was severe and unforgiving, yet the crops still needed sowing and the welfare of the lone milk cow or sheep was top priority for survival. In the 1700s, the milk cow was often slaughtered because the land was barren in winter; they couldn’t afford excess feed.

The windows of the old croft houses were small, not only to conserve heat but the outside world was viewed as a brutal reality and therefore treated with respect certainly not to be worshipped. For poets, the sea was often the subject of choice due to its unpredictable and wild nature… but not with chocolate box imaginings…

Image: Wombo Dream

Mother Nature is often likened to a beautiful woman, but like many real beauties, they complain that people are never interested in what lies underneath, that real beauty is not just skin deep, as we roam landscapes for the odd weekend, then keep the photos as a reminder of ‘grazing beauty’ without ever really getting our hands dirty…

On the flip side, we poetically assign to Mother Nature cruel and vengeful behaviour but should Nature have a gender, or is this another form of misogyny? I would be remiss not to mention the eco-feminists who consider women and Nature to be socially created.

By anthropomorphising Nature, we do it a great disservice.

So today, as I look out the window (another step removed from Nature), hopeful the Shetland gales will ease up, I check the weather forecast and make a date with Nature. I will endeavour to look at the landscape with different eyes, perhaps reminding myself that I’m wealthy enough to not need to work the land but that removes any possible relationship with the land; is it merely a planet responding to what it is subjected to by the seasons, mankind and the passage of years? It will be hard not to romanticise it as I usually do, even in winter!

I will go on that date with renewed respect, that although I will enjoy stretching my legs, I am a mere visitor, or maybe even a trespasser, I do not live in harmony with it, because when I am physically spent, I shall return home to a dehumidified warm house, electricity, running water, fast internet, and a well-stocked larder. I’m under no illusion that I could survive the Shetland landscape without these crutches.

My last thought on the matter, that my very existence is at the expense of the thing I wander through at my leisure; it’s a humbling thought.