Saturday, May 20, 2023

“Abundance, Regeneration, and Healing”: Permaculture and Spiritual Practice

I love walking in the Ozarks, and there is a special place in my heart for glades and hillsides with limestone outcrops. Even after all these decades,  every single time I stop to take one of countless photos, or sit and read a book, I pause in wonder that I am on the floor of what used to be an inland sea, the result of millions of years of marine animals living and dying in a shallow sea. (In fact, this sea has been compared to what the Bahamas are like today. So we are, in fact, living in what was something like that paradise; we are just living here 325 million or so years too late!) The memory of this paradise is in the rocks themselves,  most readily seen in crinoid fossils. Its stalked form, known as a sea lily, made a tubular calcite shell. When the crinoid died, its shell was added to layers and layers of other shells, comprising much of the limestone we see today. And when the sea receded, more layers of shale, limestone, and sandstone were left behind. 

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Quicker to Cut than to Care: The Urgency of Climate Justice

Last week, while on a working retreat in New York, I was delighted that there were four dogwood trees blooming outside my room. I could see two of them through the window every time I came through the door. It was a fantastic sight, made even more welcome because of a choice my back fence neighbors made last winter, when they cut down their dogwood tree. Its limbs grew into my yard, where I could get a close up view of each spring’s flowers. I missed that this year.

        I don’t think the tree was targeted. I doubt my neighbors got up one morning and thought, “Wow, we should cut down the dogwood tree today.” It was more probably a case of “wrong place, wrong time.” They were grading out some of their yard and clearing out the fence row, which had some small mulberry and elm saplings. And they just completely removed the dogwood tree. I had taken photos of that tree’s blooms since we had moved there in 2018. And now, this spring, there was an empty space where the blooms used to be. Again, I doubt my neighbors knew what they did. Who cuts down dogwood trees? And I appreciate a clean fence row. But their good intentions did not stop them from cutting down a beautiful tree. 

Humans excel at hubris. We just do not – we cannot be bothered to? – stop and pay attention. It takes a lot of intentional effort to slow down and do things purposefully. It is too inconvenient to ask – what trees are growing here? Are they all the same? Do I want to preserve any of them? We are almost always short on the things that care requires: time, energy, attention, curiosity, patience.