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Moonlit Hedge

A Crooked Piece of Time

Trees and forests and trash and hope

It’s March here and I’m watching the wind, as I have throughout the winter. Observing weather, observing plants and animals is a frequent way that I check in with my local bioregion and spirits who roam through. The wind has been unsettling, I may have mentioned in a previous newsletter that same fact but it continues. Winters here are dry, passive and generally comfortable. This winter has been windier and wetter than normal. It feels like a buildup to an early arrival of storm season. 

In other news, the zebra longwing butterfly has made a dazzling appearance in my neighborhood. They have a tendency to roost together in one tree and this year they’ve selected my neighbor’s black olive. Dozens of dazzling flapping black and yellow wings make the journey home at the end of the day to be with their brethren, circling, landing, fanning their wings before they finally tuck in just before sunset. I know many of you in more northern latitudes are experiencing the first touches of spring and planting gardens, reach out and let me know how that’s going for you.

This past Monday was the observation of the International Day of Forests, declared as such by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. For the observance this year, Nat Geo ran a famous picture on their Instagram account taken by photographer Dan Winters during Julia Butterfly Hill’s incredible tree-sit, which spanned just over two years in an old-growth redwood that she dubbed Luna. Her action, begun in December of 1997, inspired international attention to the role of unsustainable logging practices like old-growth clear cutting. 

I was 18 and pretty naive but I remember being electrified by her action back then and felt that the media treated her poorly, siding too much with loggers and logging companies. I still feel like actions taken with a clear heart and in good conscience are worthy of respect, especially if they upset the status quo. While Julia struggled with fame and preserving a coherent message afterwards (many in the environmental movement called her a sellout) and while the overall results may not have been all that impressive (creating a buffer zone around the tree but continuing to clear cut everywhere else) it’s laudable that she was able to endure harassment by the logging companies and the endless headwinds of a society built to quickly, surgically remove criticism that doesn’t play into the overarching narrative for as long as she did.

Trees in the Garden

Ah in the thunder air
how still the trees are!

And the lime-tree, lovely and tall, every leaf silent
hardly looses even a last breath of perfume.

And the ghostly, creamy coloured little tree of leaves
white, ivory white among the rambling greens
how evanescent, variegated elder, she hesitates on the green grass
as if, in another moment, she would disappear
with all her grace of foam!

And the larch that is only a column, it goes up too tall to see:
and the balsam-pines that are blue with the grey-blue blueness of
     things from the sea,
and the young copper beech, its leaves red-rosy at the ends
how still they are together, they stand so still
in the thunder air, all strangers to one another
as the green grass glows upwards, strangers in the silent garden.

—D.H. Lawrence

So during this week I’m thinking about wild spaces and how much of formerly wild areas have been consumed by dollar lust and development. Where I have lived for the last nearly 16 years, in Palm Beach County, I’ve seen an unending clearcutting of the remaining wild places. The last old-growth forest in the county, the 681 acre Briger Forest, was ripped out several years ago to create a biotech research institute and housing. They replaced freshwater marshes, hardwood forest and prairie with parking lots, strip malls and research facilities that to date, have never delivered on promises of creating a hub of industry with lots of jobs for county residents. Nevertheless, there was a small and determined group that fought hard to prevent it from happening. Sometimes the smallest actions, the ones that seem the most doomed to fail, that frequently do fail are one of the only ways that we can preserve what it really means to be human. In the peaceful fight for justice we are able to advocate for hope and compassion as real, human emotions that are valid and not cast as luxuries. Everyone deserves hope and everyone deserves compassion. 

The spring equinox has brought the balance of light and dark back into our lives and the light will continue to bloom towards its zenith on the solstice. I meditate on what it means to bring that light into my being and embracing the life that comes with it without judgment. Life will continue in whatever form it chooses.

My five-year-old son, who among common interests like dinosaurs and space, also enjoys gardening and learning about the earth and the environment. During the pandemic and without any prompting he started asking why people throw garbage on the ground. At barely four, he began, again without prompting, collecting trash in our neighborhood so much that we renamed our nightly walks _trash walks_ (they’ve since have morphed to _nature walks_ but finding trash is still part of it). And I guess right now, in the overwhelmingness that is this moment that we’re all living, it’s those small actions that keep me going, that keep me trying to stay centered on hope and compassion… the determination of a woman to save a tree, of a small activist group to save a forest, of a child to clean up his small part of the world. 

Image by b0red from Pixabay

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