Nature by Cara MurrayAudio version <a href="http://ripr.org/post/i-believe-rhode-island-nature" target="_blank">www.ripr.org</a>I talk unabashedly to other living things, flora and fauna alike, although they don’t speak English per se or respond in any observable form. I encourage my plants to grow (“You’re such good growers!”); I greet the goats at the end of my street (“Good morning!“ I say.); I tell my housemate’s guinea pig to “keep on truckin’.” I’d do well on a farm, I imagine—in a community of ramblers, all babbling different languages, each baffling and arcane. I’d fit right in. But I don’t use this chatter in a flippant way, not with careless or cute intentions. I see this method of engaging with the world as a means of acknowledgment, of bewilderment, of praise. It’s acceptable to talk to your cat, your dog, your cockatoo. Why not talk to everything?To ensure environmentally sensitive expeditions in Antarctica, the guidelines adopted by members of its International Association of Tour Operators include specific directions about the wildlife: “never touch the animals; maintain a distance; do not position yourself between a marine mammal and its path.” I follow these directions at home in Narragansett, Rhode Island, this laissez-faire naturalists’ doctrine. When I meet a caterpillar halfway up a hill off Route 1A, nearly exposed to the next turn of tires, I offer politely, “you’re almost there, little fellow! I think you’d better get a move on!” Then I continue my way. Once I met a wild turkey while I was out walking and was struck by the admonition, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” Well, certainly I didn’t kill him, but gosh, I must admit, I said hello. Some days I apologize aloud for everything…for human occupancy of the planet, our generally clumsy and self-serving way of doing things.I’m sure this mumbling seems anti-social from afar, or perhaps it’s strangest up close—somewhere between atypical and alarmingly odd—or maybe it’s commonplace. You tell me. I’ve witnessed a box turtle loafing toward traffic and dropped a soft hint, while it maneuvered elephantine feet through the leaves. “The woods are right there,” I whispered. “The other way, near the brook. Listen!”I believe that speaking to the natural world, in my native tongue, uncensored, creates an energetic message that is tangible and understood. Sometimes I think an unspoken phrase is as communicative as the spoken word, like focused meditation or silent prayer, but mostly I think words need execution. I know that in adulthood we should distinguish effectively between the seen and the unseen, the imagined and the real. I know I don’t have evidence that my gibberish is well-received or useful. However, I know also that the Persian poet Rumi wrote, “there are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground”—so let this be one.