“Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the 'environmentalist' view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view.”
~ E.O. Wilson
Not much has changed, and yet, everything has changed since I was a little boy growing up in a house with an abusive mother. Back then, nature saved me, and it is still that way now.
In these my late-autumn days I am trying to do what I can to return the favor.
It’s almost too late but “almost” still means there is a smidgen of hope to act upon.
When I was a boy I used to do my chores in the morning, while doing my best to avoid my mother’s frequent wrath, and then I'd run out the back door into to woods where I would remain for most of the day. She was happy to be rid of me and I was happy to roam the places of peace around me – the tiny creek down the hill, the tree house where I could commune with the warblers, the forest where box turtles and bobwhites kept me company.
Even now, wildlife seems to recognize me.
I make eye contact with deer and they continue to browse after.
They seem to know that I am no longer in predator mode.
They sense that I have sold all my rifles and used the money to go fishing and write books about saving nature. It was the least I could do.
If not for songbirds and swimming fish, I would be a gone as parakeets in Carolina.
I have stood on the edge of that six feet chasm many times. Most times because someone or something threatened to push me in, but at one time or another because I had stood there of me own free will, wondering if I should jump.
Nothing teaches compassion and empathy like suffering.
Nothing teaches appreciation and gratitude like loss.
Nothing teaches resilience like having to overcome hardship after hardship and heartache after heartache.
Not much has changed, and yet, everything has changed since I was a little boy.
Back then nature saved me, and it is still that way now. I have not seen a box turtle or heard a bobwhite in many decades.
That creek down the hill is dry now, from too many thirsty faucets.
No one allows their kids to climb trees anymore; I think trees must miss having kids in them.
My winter warblers have yet to show up… it was 80 degrees on Christmas Day.
But the wrens woke me this morning as if to tell the young boy inside the post-middle-aged man’s body… “It’s okay…we’re still here.” They comfort me.
I can’t do much to change the world.
But I plan to do whatever I can do before my autumn turns to winter.
I plan to be yet another lone voice seeking other voices to join me to say, “Nature saves us… and it’s time to save Nature, from us.”
Today… feed the birds.
Make plans to fill “your property” with all native trees and shrubs and act on those plans in the spring.
Join an organization like Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, or The Ocean Conservancy, and get involved.
Be kind to the grocery clerk and call her by name.
Dance in your kitchen and sing while you wash dishes. (I do.)
Eat and drink something wonderful and take the time to taste it.
Breathe and notice how lucky you are to be able to breathe.
Feel your own heartbeat for a moment, and notice that too. Be Grateful.
Do a random act of kindness and send someone a message saying that they crossed your mind and you are grateful for their friendship. (Forgive them and move on if they rebuff you – they have walls, and those walls aren’t yours.)
And if you can today, say something softly to a wren or warbler.
Tell them… “It’s okay…I’m still here.”
Now more than ever, Nature needs to know, we care and will not give up on setting things right again.
Before I leave this life, I hope to see a box turtle in the wild and hear a bobwhite calling in the morning… one more time.
Namaste’ Y’all Nothing but Love