Month: December 2017

Subversive

Weeds – even many intrusive aliens – give something back. They green over the dereliction we have created. They move in to replace more sensitive plants that we have endangered. Their willingness to grow in the most hostile environments – a bombed city, a crack in a wall – means that they insinuate the idea of wild nature into places otherwise quite shorn of it. They are, in this sense, paradoxical. Although they follow and are dependent on human activities, their cussedness and refusal to play by our rules makes them subversive, and the very essence of wildness.

Richard Mabey–Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants

 

Biological World

Nature is the birthright of everyone on Earth. The millions of species we have allowed to survive are our phylogenetic kin. Their long-term history is our long-term history. Despite all our fantasies and pretensions, we always have been and will remain a biological species tied to this particular biological world.

Edward O. Wilson–A Window on Eternity: A Biologist’s Walk Through Gorongosa National Park

Some Blessed Hope

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
      The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.
Thomas Hardy

Going Native

From the N.C. State University Going Native Project:

 

There are many benefits to using native plants in your landscape — for you, for your community, and for wildlife.

Wildlife

With habitat disappearing at an alarming rate, you can help provide wildlife with an oasis of the habitat they need to thrive.  The native plants that you use can meet the needs, including food and cover, of native wildlife without causing long-term damage to local plant communities. With the right diversity of native plants in your urban landscape, you can provide:

  • Protective cover for many animals.
  • Seeds, nuts, and fruits for squirrels and other mammals.
  • Seeds, fruits, and insects for birds.
  • Nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Larval host plants for butterfly caterpillars.

Prevent Introduction of Invasive Plants

The use of only native plants in your landscape helps limit the chances that potentially invasive, exotic plant species will be introduced into the environment around your home.  Many of the invasive, exotic plant species present in the South’s natural areas today were introduced as landscape plantings many decades ago. Continued introduction of new exotic plants into suburban landscapes will result in many new invasive plants in the future.

Beauty

Many native plants produce showy flowers, abundant fruits and seeds, and brilliant fall foliage. By planting native plants, you will have a beautiful yard that is friendly to wildlife.

Low Maintenance

Native plants generally grow well and require little care when grown on proper soils under the right environmental conditions. By choosing the right native plants, you may be able to use fewer pesticides and less water.

Community

As more people use native plants in their urban landscaping, it adds to the available habitat for wildlife and benefits the community as a whole.  Going native helps save our natural heritage for future generations.

To find out how you can get started, go to How To Go Native.

Solace

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature. …I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.

Anne Frank

Flake by Flake

The First Snowfall

THE snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer’s muffled crow,
The stiff rails were softened to swan’s-down,
And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, ‘Father, who makes it snow?’
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snowfall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o’er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar of our deep-plunged woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
‘The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall! ‘

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.

James Russel Lowell

Foundations

I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Henry David Thoreau–Walden, or Life in the Woods