Tag: Featured

Repeated Refrains

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

Rachel Carson–Silent Spring

The Great Mystery

We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams with tangled growth, as “wild.” Only to the white man was nature a “wilderness” and only to him was the land “infested” with “wild” animals and “savage” people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery. Not until the hairy man from the east came and with brutal frenzy heaped injustices upon us and the families we loved was it “wild” for us. When the very animals of the forest began fleeing from his approach, then it was that for us the “Wild West” began.

Luther Standing Bear

Nature be Your Teacher

The Tables Turned

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?
The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.
Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.
William Wordsworth

Lifted and Struck

When her doctor took her bandages off and led her into the garden, the girl who was no longer blind saw “the tree with the lights in it.” It was for this tree I searched through the peach orchards of summer, in the forests of fall and down winter and spring for years. Then one day I was walking along Tinker creek and thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing that like being for the first time see, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The flood of fire abated, but I’m still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells un-flamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. I have since only very rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.

Annie Dillard–Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

How?

God the Artist

God, when you thought of a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?
How did you dream of the Milky Way
To guide us from afar.
How did you think of a clean brown pool
Where flecks of shadows are?

God, when you thought of a cobweb,
How did you think of dew?
How did you know a spider’s house
Had shingles bright and new?
How did you know the human folk
Would love them like they do?

God, when you patterned a bird song,
Flung on a silver string,
How did you know the ecstasy
That crystal call would bring?
How did you think of a bubbling throat
And a darling speckled wing?

God, when you chiseled a raindrop,
How did you think of a stem,
Bearing a lovely satin leaf
To hold the tiny gem?
How did you know a million drops
Would deck the morning’s hem?

Why did you mate the moonlit night
With the honeysuckle vines?
How did you know Madeira bloom
Distilled ecstatic wines?
How did you weave the velvet disk
Where tangled perfumes are?
God, when you thought of a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?

Angela Moran

This Struggle

All that we can do, is to keep steadily in mind that each organic being is striving to increase at a geometrical ratio; that each at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life, and to suffer great destruction. When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.

Charles Darwin–On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection

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.