The other day, I came across a word I really, really liked: aesthete.
It means a person who has a deep sensitivity to the beauty of nature (or art).
All of my life, I have preferred the company of animals and wilderness over (most) people and civilization.
Some people feel rejuvenated by a night out with friends at the bar or a trip to the big city.
That was never me.
From the time I was a little girl, all I wanted and needed was a stroll through the woods or to sit on a piece of driftwood along a rocky, windy coastline.
I think that's why New Zealand resonated with me so much.
Since moving to Taiwan, it's been a constant struggle for me to rejuvenate.
I live in a cement jungle.
I can no longer walk out my front door with my husband and walk five minutes to the beach, stroll along the water and then walk up into the woods and find myself swallowed up by trees.
We both miss that dearly.
Because we are both aesthetes, people with a great sensitivity to the beauty of nature.
But we both found that part of ourselves again in New Zealand.
For me, being an aesthete is more than just finding some vague appreciation for natural things.
It includes a physical feeling of being moved or overwhelmed by something.
Something beautiful and profound and natural.
One place I felt this was in the Catlins.
The Catlins, like practically all of the South Island, is stunningly beautiful.
The coastline is my favorite kind: cold, windy, rugged and rocky and not somewhere you put a beach towel and sunbathe.
My favorite part of the Catlins was the trees-- bent, gnarled and wind tangled.
I first saw these trees while we were hiking up to the Nugget Point lighthouse.
The wind is so strong and consistent here that the trees grow bent and sideways.
But the trees aren't all.
The "nuggets" are so intriguing to look at.
Below the lighthouse, jutting out of the water, are golden nugget shaped rocks.
In the other direction, following the coastline, are ginormous, towering sea cliffs that fall straight into the Pacific.
I know a lot of people come to Nugget Point to see the lighthouse, but the aesthete in my was so much more impressed with the wild beauty all around it.