24 February 2020
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Winter 2020 has produced a season that will undoubtedly leap to the forefront of memory.For me it’s a grave example of our future; that is, unless we act. With less than a month until the official arrival of spring we’ve already seen renewal that signals spring’s performance. Just in the last few weeks I’ve seen the completion of naturalized crocuses in my backyard, buds of daffodils readying to bloom, trees budding, unseasonable temps, birds flitting in and out of birdhouse on the search for nesting opportunities, one short snowfall, mostly temps in the 30s and 40s. We’re in winter but the weather is not in any way meeting its description.
This current awakening of the earth is so troubling, because my region of the Mid Atlantic has not had its much-needed weeks of inches-deep frozen earth. Without that hard freeze the ecosystem is off center, not able to control the imbalance that undoubtedly will surface. For an entire season to be set askew is to mourn human’s lack of attention to our greatest threat: the climate crisis.
And so my heart is ablaze with action. I’ve been buying seeds and planning more wildflower gardens. For twenty years I’ve been turning the majority of my property into wildlife habitats. Certainly, this passion has its rewards.
And as every gardener knows, it’s a never-ending story: the assessment and reassessment of a season and its progeny. For me it’s a combination of intuition, education, planning and selection. My goal has remained: reduce grass and return the land to its wild state. Within a small university progressive town my neighborhood is blessed. There are mature trees that are perfect habitats for all sorts of wildlife, red-shouldered hawks overhead, raccoons, skunks, opossums, a myriad of birds, groundhogs … It’s a glorious balance in a non-rural setting.
While it’s usual for me to garden for much of the four seasons, it’s late February and I’m gardening as though it’s early April. The earth is workable and I’m weeks ahead in preparation for spring planting.
Do I temp my eagerness to plant? No, I steady my patience and use my years of experience to hold tight.
The act of being able to spend hours out in my gardens suffices. Most importantly, that immersion keeps my mind occupied and thinking of the joys ahead, even as analysis continues.
In the Lens section is my latest tribute to Mother Earth and the world that we long to inhabit, at least I do. It’s a tribute to the vital planet that gave us abundance, fertility and majesty. Such splendor is being threatened every day and tears at the heartstrings.
Recently, I learned about the well-respected nature writer Barry Lopez’s essay “A Literature of Place (2004).” Here is a quote that touched me deeply, and started my thoughts meandering across space and time with nature at the forefront.
“If you’re intimate with a place, a place with whose history you’re familiar, and you establish an ethical conversation with it, the implication that follows is this: the place knows you’re there. It feels you. You will not be forgotten, cut off, abandoned.” As humans our connection with nature provides (he continues) “a fundamental human defense against loneliness.”
Lopez was primarily describing how the relationship with the land shapes our inner landscape. Animals, wild and domestic, also do this. Maybe if people spent more time in nature, a bubbling reverence would emerge, and it would become the single driving force to save the planet.