I’ll be the first to say it: I didn’t anticipate producing a story about cancer for this podcast. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. The premise for HumaNature is as broad as it is specific—first-person stories about human experiences in nature—so it’s really no surprise that we’re discovering such wide-ranging stories.

Already, as we approach the mid-point of HumaNature’s 10-episode first season, a pretty complex picture of nature is beginning to emerge. In fact, this website’s header art already hints at that. The first frame—hunter stalking bison—pits humans against nature. The second—(angry) bison chasing hunter—pits nature against humans. And in the third frame we have harmony, as the two share earbuds. (It goes without saying, Don’t Try This At Home.)

All of those themes are present in our four episodes so far. In Episode 1, nature is an obstacle to be overcome, even as the river is a source of adventure (for whitewater rafters) and income (for the raft company owner).

Episode 2 chronicles the storyteller’s own complicated relationship with nature. When you think nature is good and then it (literally) bites you in the foot, is nature still good? And is it worth our care?

Our third storyteller experiences nature as lofty and ambivalent. Life and death hang in the balance, and “the mountains don’t care.” Beauty and brutality are the same.

And then the most recent episode contradicts that idea. For Tonia Hanson, the beauty, power, and tenacity of nature are a source of healing and inspiration.

It’s easy for nature lovers to get dewy-eyed about rivers and mountains and animals. But as we’re discovering, one reason to love the natural world is precisely because it defies sentimentalism. It isn’t easy, and neither is our relationship with it.

In coming episodes we’re excited to further explore seemingly contradictory experiences of the natural world. Because in the end, regardless of whether nature is for us, against us, or indifferent, Tonia Hanson has it right. We’re a part of it.

– Micah Schweizer

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