I was so excited when we returned from our vacation to the east coast. My grandson met relatives for the first time. He visited the sites of his mother’s childhood. We explored Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and New York City with all its complications was enjoyed. Along the way we interacted with a great variety of people. I felt…….real life isn’t as damaged as I thought. Then Charlottesville, VA. My heart sank. What now? I have decided for me to maintain a healthy physical and mentally balanced life I must turn back to the spirit of nature. I must observe, listen, respect, experience, and rejoice in it.
I am presently half way through the book: God Is Red by Vine Deloria Jr. The writing is thirty years old but is speaking to me about the philosophy of life I have come to develop over my sixty-seven years. The basic premise is that we are but a small part of nature. All life is not dependent on us. We are not life’s focal point. We must submerge ourselves in nature and react to the world in the here and now. Somehow this gives me strength….
We must observe:
- You have seen this image in a previous blog. It is the crocus growing in the yard of a friend in Japan after the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The strength of this disaster could not discourage or bully this lovely blossom.
2. Despite the Road Commission’s attempt to mow down the life in my yard the milkweed recovered quickly. I found three monarch butterfly eggs. They are presently in their chrysalises soon to emerge ready for their trip to Mexico. I am not the only one making such an effort. There are thousands of people, some working with the University of Kansas program Monarch Watch, and others on their own, protecting these little predictors of the future.
3. A cactus, given to me 30 years ago by a struggling student, finally blooms. What a beautiful surprise. I hope this means that she too is blooming wherever she may be.
4. Animals still feel there is a reason to reproduce, nourish, and protect their young.
Life is not dependent on us to flourish, however, we are capable of destroying it on a large scale.
We must listen:
The bees have been talking: Colony Collapse Disorder. Colony Collapse Disorder occurs when the worker bees disappear from the hive. They have left plenty of food for the queen and a few nurse bees for the surviving larva. In 2006 North America experienced a drastic number of disappearances of the western honey bee. Western Europe along with other spots on the globe also experienced this but to a lesser degree. Bees pollinate one-third of our food. If they lose we lose. We are listening and some improvements are being made. There is still a ways to go.
2. The Karner Blue butterfly is talking and we may have missed its message. This lovely creature’s entire life cycle is dependent on the blue lupine plant. The blue lupine grows in sandy soil in maple and aspen barrens. Fire is the blue lupine’s friend as it controls the growth of shrubs allowing the maples and aspens to grow and give the plant shade. Human invasion of the lupine’s territory, death due to pesticides, and human control of fire has dwindled the blue lupine population to almost nothing showing a 99% drop in the butterfly population. The loss of any strand in the food chain weakens the whole.
3. The Western Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna is talking. Presently, marine fish account for 15% of the protein in our diet. It is projected that the consumption may grow to 35% of our diet in the near future. Sushi lovers can not get enough of the blue fin tuna. At this point in time over harvesting has endangered this fish. In Maine I witnessed the tuna fishermen bringing in their catches….numbers being carefully monitored. What is the rest of the world doing? During my visit to Japan I came to realize this tuna is worshiped.
4. The monarch butterfly is talking. In or around 1996 I began teaching fourth grade. I wanted to create a team-like atmosphere for my students so we became the “Mighty Monarchs”. The first days of the school year were spent studying this magnificent creature and its journey south. We tagged butterflies and supported schools in El Rosario, Mexico. It was hoped they would stop logging and begin a tourist industry celebrating the Monarchs that over wintered there. A week or so before school I would collect caterpillars by the dozens. As the years passed I found fewer and fewer caterpillars until I found none. I ordered caterpillars through the mail….IMAGINE THAT….. This seemed so artificial to me and many of the little caterpillars did not make it to the butterfly stage. The last five years of my teaching we became the “Super Stars” studying the heavens.
Human invasion, cutting down or killing the milkweed, pesticides and logging are all contributing to the decline of the Monarch butterfly. More and more people are being educated about the needs of this butterfly and are interacting with it. This year I have raised four. That is twice as many as last year.
We must respect:
It is my opinion that humans have disrespected nature for thousands of years and we have and are suffering for it. We can think about over crowding and poor sanitation that brought the plagues. The earliest recorded bubonic plague, also known as black death, was the Plague of Justinian in AD 541.
The industrial revolution completely ignored the needs of the Earth dumping waste in rivers, lakes, oceans and the air. When the Cuyahoga River caught fire people began to take notice. We have had years of regulations, some followed and some not, some kept, some lost. There have been great improvements, however we still suffer.
For me, global warming is very real. I acknowledge the fact, it is hard for many to understand. There are also many who do understand and are afraid to acknowledge it. I get it, it is scary. So what can we do….I feel like a mouse swimming in the ocean.
- Reduce Reuse Recycle
- Do not change the landscape to suit human purposes….New Orleans paid dearly for that.
- Reduce your waste. Our recycling bin is filled weekly. Our trash bin is rarely half full monthly.
- Purchase items with recycling in mind….I buy glass rather than plastic.
- Plant native plants and flowers.
- Allow animals native to your area to share your space. Yes, coyotes, wolves, cougars, etc. Learn how to live with them….our mistake is thinking it is all about us.
- Teach the children about the balance of nature.
- Continue to educate yourself concerning the Earth’s needs.
Experiencing nature is a gift:
Their are also times we must experience nature’s wrath to protect life. It is amazing how many people will answer this call!
Rejoicing in nature is simple. Nature is found outside your window, in the cracks of your patio, in your yard, on beaches, in boats, in city, state and federal parks, etc. etc. One can sit, hike, swim, sail…
For me…I love opening the window in the bedroom all year long to smell the night air. My husband….not so much. I like to sit on the porch when it is raining. I like to walk in the rain. I love the snow by a fire. It is endless. There is so much to enjoy by just thinking to use your senses.
There are more formal ways to rejoice in nature. The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy takes you into the forest and teaches you how to look at it using all of your senses. You are immersing and cleansing yourself with nature. This is not a hike or a swim rather it is an experience. It is referred to as ‘forest bathing’ and is proven to be beneficial to both mind and body.
I close with a smile on my face and a purpose. Reach out to nature…whatever that means to you….and find peace of mind.
Once again I find a place for Chief Seattle’s quote:
- 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.