Mowed Down

I work so hard to provide an environment that supports the miracles of nature  and then bam it is butchered. My entire yard – front, side and back hill has been seeded with Michigan wild flowers and grasses. We have also planted bushes to attract butterflies as they migrate.  An expensive water system has been installed to nourish them. It is not only a joy for my family but the neighborhood. Several families have put wildflower patches in their yard.

Yesterday the county felt it was necessary to mow a six-foot path across the front of my yard to improve the line of sight for drivers. It was not only my yard but the entire neighborhood. I live in what I would call a closed neighborhood…..only one way in or out. The roads are used by homeowners and their occasional guests. I have exactly four drivers that pass my house on the way to their homes and don’t hold your breath waiting to see them drive by. I have never known there to have been an accident on the neighborhood roads unless ice was involved and at that time of year we are lucky to get the roads plowed let alone an extra six-foot line of sight at the side of the road. There was no notice that this was going to happen….the most common method of the government achieving what it wants and what it knows its constituents may not be pleased with. A neighbor, having lived in the area for eighteen years  never remembers this service being given to the neighborhood. He actually mows a twelve-inch path next to the roads with his riding mower avoiding our yard as he respects our culture.

So what is the big deal?  The big deal is that I have a strong spiritual belief and connection to the natural world. It is my belief that I am to be a steward of nature.  A  book I read from time to time and have out again after this experience is, “The Green Bible”.  This Bible highlights in green all the teaching about protecting, respecting and enjoying nature.

I have been mocked for my beliefs as all believers in this world have. For me, most people find me ridiculous. So be it. My favorite saying is, ” What other people think of you is none of your business.” Just love it.

So what really happened yesterday?  My milkweed was mowed down.  Milkweed the life blood of the monarch butterfly. The bees that love to pollinate my flowers were killed. Oh the buzzing as you walk down the driveway is wonderful. These same bees pollinate the apples and grapes next door. Homes have been lost for wildlife. Some of the animals I have observed living among or walking through the wildflowers are bees, butterflies, snakes, chipmunks, rabbits, song birds, deer, crows and ducks.  I am sure there are more that are clever enough to remain unseen. For me these lives are important and in many ways support my life….remember the food web from elementary school?

I would like people to take and minute and think.  Is the action you want to take necessary, a high priority for safety, or disrespectful? Rather than spending time, money and employees on mowing down ecosystems could the potholes in the roads in town be filled so that our citizens are not unnecessarily supporting body shops? Could lumpy roads be repaired? Could money be spent on low-income housing so our city workers can afford to live here? This list could go on and on.

It is my hope this area will fill in again and become what it was. The yard is just beginning to bloom and amaze. The unexpected mowing has made me very very sad and a bit defeated. As the flowers I will rally.

A few quotes from my favorite environmentalist, Chief Seattle:

  1. Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.
  2. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children

All I ask is that people take time to think, then think again and again. We live in an area of supreme natural beauty….the Great Lakes – we are the fortunate.

 

 

 

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Spring Thoughts

I am always a bit overwhelmed by the advent of spring.  The three or four winter months with their cold, snow, and darkness is pleasant enough at first, snuggling with the fire and seasonal decorations, but does eventually gets long and somewhat depressing. Then the calendar promises spring. Sadly, I expect it any day weeks before it arrives then one day, the light is a little different suggesting good things to come. As I observe this unwinding to spring I see so many things in the nature of people and mother nature that gives me a sense of hope. Here are a few of my thoughts and observations.

Hearing the first sounds of song birds makes me smile. The sun is on its way as the songs of winter birds are mingling with those arriving or passing through.  The extended hours of day light brings on an inner stirring – let’s move – let’s sing – let’s find new things to eat.

Several weeks ago I was awed by twenty cedar waxwings resting in the river oak growing outside my living room window creating quiet a portrait. This elegant bird just was passing through.

I am waiting for the humming birds and orioles….feeders displayed.

 

A true sign of spring is putting out the birdbaths. I have created elegant mosaics in their basins, placed pennies made prior to 1983(still have copper to slow down the algae) and placed them in just the right spots. Birds announce the baths arrival as the less than shy chickadee waits for the first drink on the limb above my head. But ouch, the next morning the basin is on the ground. Who does this. My trail camera lets me know.

While establishing his territory a male robin mistook his reflection as a challenger. For days he charged this false foe. I laughed as his footprints showing all his toes are well displayed on the window. He must have found a mate as he has not been seen for a few days.

It is my observation that the male duck is a first-rate caregiver. I am observing pairs flying over head or waddling through the open fields. Landing in a large puddle in my yard the male watches the female swim then waddle over to eat the corn left for the deer. Only when she is done and preening beneath the pine trees

will he eat.  The couple explored my back hill checking out nooks and crannies for a nest. I believe our yard was rejected as I haven’t seen them for a couple of days and the puddle is now dry.

Ahh, but down state the great-great-great- grand-daughter of a duck I cared for was back nesting in the court-yard of the school in which I taught.  For years I made sure these ducklings and their mother found their way out of the courtyard. Upon retiring I found a willing volunteer to keep an eye out for them. Being a bit ahead of us weather wise the ducklings have hatched and made their parade out the building to a site unknown to us to this very day.

 

As I rounded the house to take the recycling out, there she was under the pine tree,  a large female rabbit collecting pine needles for her nest. I walked quietly not looking at her and she stayed. Returning to fill the bird bath I spotted her behind the sumac. I dumped some corn near the bird bath which she went to as soon as I turned by back. I left her alone but suspect she is building a nest nearby and we may be enjoying some bunnies in the near future.

The bee boxes are in the orchards ready for business. This is a sure sign the peninsula will be in full blossom very soon. The blossom sheer beauty and the promise of a future harvest is invigorating.  Farmers are  busy tending their trees, vineyards and fields, such noble work. The farm stands are sporting fresh maple syrup, marvelous eggs, leaving a spot for the soon to arrive asparagus. Mushroom hunters are out searching for the rare morel mushroom that makes its appearance with the forsythia disappearing with the lilacs. Today I observed a jogger stopped by a tree sorting through the grass hoping to find this mushroom treasure.

 

The first flowers of the season are appearing – dandelions, crocus, daffodils, tulips, forsythia, and hyacinths. The trees are leafing out, the willows first. All is good.

People too seem to renew their spirit with the coming of spring. We venture out of out homes and renew relationships with  our neighbors.  We notice our community and the life it holds. Sometimes, for a brief moment, we enter the lives of strangers renewing a sense of worth for all involved.

With the first signs of spring coming into view a friend and her husband drove to a doctor’s appointment. As they did they spotted a homeless man walking on the roadside.  Sadly, something we all have come notice without much thought.  On their return they saw the same man sitting on the side of the road rubbing his bare feet.  Stopping their car her husband asked the man’s shoe size….sadly he had larger feet than the driver. The driver however took off his socks and told the gentleman something was better than nothing. This small but tremendous act of kindness left both parties feeling needed and cared for.

A second friend had brought her dog to a canine eye specialist miles away from her home.  As she waited she observed a heavy set tattooed man bring in his small dog. He asked for towels as the dog was bleeding badly. The vet took the dog for examination not allowing the gentleman to observe. Do whatever you have too he said through his tears. The poor gentleman continued to weep. After multiple tests and blood work the diagnosis, an infected uterus. The dog would need to be spayed and hopefully the infection was contained or more surgery would need to be done. They brought out an estimated bill, $800. The gentleman became so distraught he was moved to another room where he made calls to his wife and mother. My friend asked to speak with him. She told him she was aware of his dog’s situation and she was an avid supporter of dog charities. She would like to pay the dog’s bill. He explained he had been referred to a voluntary vet clinic and would need less money but still had today’s costs. Between his wife, mother and his next pay check he felt he had enough to pay for spaying. Could they set up a payment plan so he could pay her back maybe through the vet?  She told the  gentleman you don’t need to know who I am and I don’t need to know you…..it is the dog that needs care.  She paid his days bill along with her own. The vet called my friend several days  later reporting that the pup was now healthy and at home.  Again…..people rejoicing in life.

Oh yes, a definite sign of spring…..baseball from small to tall.  I love it when my students start bringing their mitts to school. These well massaged hopes of great catches, the brightness in their eyes and smiles of a thought of a home run or maybe a grand slam.  Fathers and mothers:  “That’s my boy.” or ” Good eye.”  Grandparents cheering on… the most faithful of fans.

 

Yes, spring is a time to rejoice in life in a variety of ways….think about your spring….it will bring a smile to your face. I better get this published as in a few days it will be summer….the time we see the fruits of spring.

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