Happily Ever After

 

 

The wilds touch my back door. A part of them does anyway. Strangeish insects and unfamiliar Corvids enliven the “wilds”of my new backyard.  Tall skinny Evergreens surrounded by persistent English ivy. Small deciduous trees that await new spring leaves dot the landscape accented by bright green moss providing splashes of color that reminds me that spring really truly here.

A tiny brook babbles on by fifteen feet below. I can hear frogs in the morning and the friendly neighbor’s cat comes to greet me in the bright but cool sunshine. I am beginning to attune to my new atmosphere.

It is different here but I find much beauty in this newness.

I am now an apartment dweller. My big yard has been replaced by this woodsy spot with two cement slabs and the before-mentioned surrounding moss which will now serve as my garden area. I have three large pots, empty for now. I will certainly get more. Out of the thousands of plants in my old yard I brought only one; the meadow rue. It lies dormant under the soil in an indigo planter awaiting warmer weather.  It wasn’t a choice I wanted to make but in order to make a new life for oneself one must put aside the old.

I have done a lot of that lately; setting aside.

After a 17 year relationship I parted ways with someone who wasn’t good for me. My trusting nature and naivety paired with my wholehearted belief in redemption kept this damaging storm rolling much too long despite the, obvious to others, unhappiness it was bringing me. When living inside the eye of the hurricane; the epicenter of emotional and psychological abuse, you can’t see how bad it really is. Over time the abnormal can become the normal.

And a deep sadness can embed itself in you and you don’t realize how awful it really is in part because if you stop and do this it will break your heart and maybe you can’t go on. And so I put what I thought was a convincing happy face to the word and went on. Inside a hole grew and grew and in time, by the end of those 17 years, it was a giant gaping hole…a chunk torn out of me and beat to hell.

My yard which was in it’s entirety what I deemed my salvation would have to be left behind. My  cats too. Spotsy and my Mario would stay with the house and the yard and it’s owner. I left with my two kids ( 18 and 21 ) to go live in an apartment across town. A new place of sanctuary. A place of  freedom with my name on the lease.

It’s different but it is becoming home. Home is really in the people you are with not the place anyway.

I was fortunate to meet someone at work. An amazing person I knew that I knew the instant we met. I have been having the pleasure of getting to know him ever since. We all live together in this apartment that skirts the edge of this thin strip of urban woods.

There is a freeway that lies beyond it. I can hear the traffic, its steady hum sounds like the ocean to me, it is easy to drift to sleep to.

I feel free and happy and loved. I feel confident and hopeful, more than ever.

The hole in my soul is filled, love pours out and spills out into the world. I am grateful. I thank God everyday. I am blessed beyond measure. I have the opportunity to start anew and this I will do, This I am doing.

 

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Winston Churchill

~nlm

George Harrison – What Is Life

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Seeds of Love

Every action or non-action we take have repercussions that run like ripples in a still pool, constantly moving and changing. Out of randomness comes a chaotic sort of order we call life.

Life is a journey with twists and turns, offshoots, detours and about-faces.  We skip merrily, or unmerrily, planting seeds along the way.

Some seeds get blown away and never come to fruition, others find the right landing spot and with a little luck, care and attention erupt out of the ground bursting into life, red, ripe and beautiful like a shiny apple.

Most of the time we don’t know where they go. A small kindness is a seed that can travel far, farther than we realize. I’ve learned to appreciate the small and the seemingly insignificant.

Seeds are like that; small and seemingly insignificant. We all know that looks are deceiving and that a seed however tiny can pack a wallop. The potential of one tiny seed is incalculable.

apple-with-leaf

 

 “We can count how many seeds are in the  apple, but not how many apples are in the  seed.”

   ~Ken Kesey

 

We are always planting seeds whilst we know it or not. I like to think that every action I take however small and seemingly insignificant most likely has repercussions: good, bad or somewhere in between. The results of some of our actions are immediate, other results take longer, others longer still. Seldom does life work on our timetable, nature works on it’s own and we are a part of that greater whole.

flower nature determination dandelion crack

We are a part of the web of life. We take part in the dance of the seasons; springing forth with a rush of light and energy. We burst up through into the living world, bright, trusting and full of potential thrust into the wilderness of existence, a life with gardens and tigers and people and trees and owls…so much beauty and wonder…

…and indifference, greed, Monsanto and war…

box dark war explosion trinity-shot-nuclear-test-explosion-july-16-1945-us-government-photo-in-the-public-domain_thumb

The world is our garden, the garden of our making. We grow here and there is no other place for us. We must take care to plant the right kind of seeds.

maxresdefault girl children kid love

If we plant seeds of love and compassion and altruism and trust, if we plant a respect for all life and the environment, if we plant peace and understanding and tolerance with care and watering, luck and a lot of hard work, we could grow a beautiful garden with enough wonderfulness to sustain us all.

Of course this is all so easy to say….so lovey-dovey and some may say unrealistic. Yes, I know the world is an ugly place but it is also a place of beauty. It’s up to us to cull out the badness and plant the goodness. If not us, who? And if not now when?

Any farmer will tell you the best time to plant is yesterday. Get those seeds in the ground and pray for sunny days…the more seeds we plant the better.

~NLM

Flower petals spelling LOVE

“I will be generous with my love today. I will sprinkle compliments and uplifting words everywhere I go. I will do this knowing that my words are like seeds and when they fall on fertile soil, a reflection of those seeds will grow into something greater.”
~Steve Maraboli

 

 

 

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Save The Dirt

 
 
Dirt-525 
 
 
Dirt has a bad name.  We assign it to foul, perverted things. Icky nasty things we do not touch lest it taint us, infect us. We are a society bent on cleanliness; antiseptic-ness. We pride ourselves in our civilized approach to dirt.  Filth is what animals live in not we who are above such things. 
That dirt which lies beneath our feet, it is alive, that soil; a  mosaic of organic-ness which makes up much of our planet. We don’t think much of it but it’s there.  We walk on it, build our homes on it, plant our food in it. It’s what holds it all together and it’s more important than people realize.
 
Throughout history, civilizations have prospered or declined as a result of the availability and productivity of their soils.  Soil resources are critical to the environment as well as food production.

Soil is defined as a natural body consisting of layers that are primarily composed of minerals, mixed with organic matter. It is the loose covering of fine rock particles that covers the surface of the earth and is the end product of the influence of the climate, organisms, minerals and the passage of time.

When used in agriculture, it serves as the anchor and primary nutrient base for plants and soil resources that are crucial to the environment.  It absorbs rainwater and releases it later, helping to prevent floods and drought. It cleans the water acting like a sponge as the water percolates through it.

Soil is the most abundant ecosystem on Earth and is home to countless lifeforms; invertebrates, bacteria, fungi and algae.   It supports and plays a crucial role in all life on this planet.

 

Soil food web 

Good soil should contain a healthy mixture of soil-based organisms. These are the naturally occurring micro-organisms that release powerful enzymes responsible for keeping it free of molds, yeasts, fungi and other parasites which would otherwise make normal plant growth impossible. These organisms fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil and decompose organic compounds, including manure, plant residue, and pesticides; helping to prevent them from entering waterways and becoming pollutants.

The primary home of the vast soil food web is the topsoil. It’s the top layer of soil and contains most of the available nutrients. It’s where most of the biological activity takes place.

 

dirtFarmer_and_tractor_tilling_soil 
Scientists believe that 24 billion tons of topsoil are lost every year to erosion by wind, water and other causes including the way we feed the planet. Conventional agriculture encourages the depletion of topsoil because the soil must be plowed and replanted each year.  Many experts believe that our chemical dependencies are stripping the soil of its life-giving properties and turning it into unproductive, thus, lifeless dirt.  One inch of topsoil can take 500 years to form naturally. According to current trends, the world has about 60 years of topsoil left.
 
 

 Topsoil erosion occurs when the topsoil layer is blown or washed away. Without topsoil, little plant life is possible. This is a phenomenon known as the Aeolian processes.  This has happened before notably during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s when a period of severe dust storms greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the US and Canadian prairies.

On a dry grassland, the grass rooted into the soil can be the only thing keeping the soil stable. If too many animals are allowed to graze for too long, the grass can be stripped away and the soil will lose its anchoring roots. The area can become a desert. This is called desertification. Desertification and soil loss is a worldwide problem.

 
Dust storm blowing into Dodge City. The worst storm recorded was Black Sunday, April 15, 1935. Survivors talked of dust so thick it drifted like snow.
Dust storm blowing into Dodge City. The worst storm recorded was Black Sunday, April 15, 1935. Survivors talked of dust so thick it drifted like snow.

 

“According to the United Nations desertification is a creeping catastrophe. Already creating millions of environmental refugees worldwide every year, one third of the earth’s surface and the livelihoods of at least one billion people are threatened.” 

 By The Future World Project

 

A Turkana man herds livestock back from grazing grounds in Kenya, Africa where desertification in a problem.
A Turkana man herds livestock back from grazing grounds in Kenya, Africa where desertification in a problem.

 

This problem only deepens through time.  As our global population continues to swell and demand for food increases, our ability to feed the world will become more difficult and in time perhaps impossible. Once land is lost it’s hard to gain it back. I know dirt isn’t exciting, most of us don’t think of it beyond a few scientists and the odd nut like me, but we all can do something about it. It is our planet and we have to right to our existence because it’s down to that.   We need responsible and sustainable land stewardship not just here and there but everywhere.

A great place to start is at home, in our own yards.  The website Wikihow features an excellent article; How to Prevent Soil Erosion . It is focused on what the average person can do about soil erosion at home and in the community. It is on the small scale but a good start.

Beyond that I think we the people need to raise awareness about this problem and through societal and monetary pressure persuade the movers and shakers in this world that we care about our topsoil and the future of the food supply. And that steps must be taken to prevent further loss and to reverse bad farming and land management practices. We need to adapt sustainable farming practices that encourage the development of a healthy topsoil by rewarding those who regenerate the environment and produce food that supports a healthier society.     Most importantly we need to change the way we think about soil and how we use it. We must treasure it as the precious natural resource it is.

Future generations are counting on us… 

Have a fruitful day,

Nancy

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“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. 
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

 
 desertification in Niger soil dirt
 
 
 
 “The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell Berry
 
community-garden-thanks-to-green-guerillas
 
 

References and Related Articles 

  

Woody Guthrie — This Land is Your Land Youtube

Health Benefits of Soil Based Organisms (positivehealth.com)   

Soil Food Web (soils.usda.gov) 

How to Prevent Soil Erosion  Wikihow.com.

We Are What We Eat: Topsoil erosion  YouTube  

Topsoil – 1948 Educational Documentary   

What if the world’s soil runs out?  Time.com  

Losing Ground: Re-thinking soil as a renewal resource (fewresources.org)  

Soil Food Web (soils.usda.gov) 

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Confessions of a Tree Hugger

Hey handsome, where have you been all my life?
Hey handsome, where have you been all my life?

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”

 ― Sylvia Plath

.

It is mid afternoon. I am in a anticipatory mood. I have come to this place with one idea in mind. It doesn’t take long to get here and soon I am upon it. I wear a look of solid intent mixed with quiet determination on my face. It is obvious. I am obvious.  I spy the object of my affection just out of the corner of my eye; tall, rugged and deeply handsome. I cannot contain myself any longer. I walk right up and just like that I wrap my arms around tight.

“This is good stuff”, I murmur.  MM looks at me, at us, like I am out of my mind. I don’t care. Nothing can spoil this moment.  I feel the energy pulsating through my body. This feels so damn good!  “You should try this” I say to MM who shoots me one of those looks he gives from time to time that says:  There she goes again.

I've decided to hug all the trees I want and not care what others think.
I’ve decided to hug all the trees I want and not care what others think.

I continue with my hugging. The tall Redwood seems to hug me back. I think it likes it. I call out to MM. I find he has wandered down the trail leaving me and the tree behind.

I am fortunate to live so close to this place, to such a specimen as this. Yes, as you probably have surmised I am tree-hugger and in the middle of a tree hugging session. I have heard the term tree hugger for most of my life.  The image of aging hippies chaining themselves to old growth timber and militant activists may comes to mind when one hears that term.

It was several years ago when I first tried it. I was alone.  I was walking in a park and then just out of the blue I got a notion, why not literally hug a tree? I thought, and then I did. It was just a quick one, I didn’t want anyone to see me and afterward I admit I felt somewhat foolish.  That sort of thing was frowned upon back then. It was the 90’s and everyone was caught up in a sort of angry angst that did not translate well into nature-loving.

I was intrigued and as I got older and discovered that I didn’t care much what others thought. It was much more fun to go with my eccentricities than just to fight them, but I didn’t speak of this tree hugging hobby much. It was a personal thing. It was between me and the trees.

“I couldn't live where there were no trees--something vital in me would starve.”  ― L.M. Montgomery
“I couldn’t live where there were no trees–something vital in me would starve.”
― L.M. Montgomery

I hear every so often tree hugger used as a derogatory term; something someone should be ashamed of.  There is nothing wrong with loving nature, it is so, well…natural.  Trees are part of the natural landscape. All this concrete and glass we surround ourselves is not.

I will proclaim right here, right now that:

I am a tree hugger and damned proud of it!

I wholeheartedly recommend this activity and if you haven’t tried it, you should. Don’t care what others think or if you get strange looks–do it anyway. Set an example. The tree will like it and you will too. I guarantee it! The more people hugging trees, the more it will become socially acceptable. We could start a movement!

So hug a tree today and don’t be surprised if it hugs you back!

view-through-my-eyes-tree-near-work.jpg

Have a lovely day!

Strawberryindigo.


Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

― John Muir

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Chipko movement (wikipedia.org)

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Portland tree huggers attempt world record (oregonlive.com) (Way to go Portland!)

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Français : indienne
Français : indienne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Doing the Environmental Drag

I don't want to set the world on fire...I just want to put a flame in your heart...
Credit: Public Domain

Lately I have been doing a fair amount of research for a few articles with environmental themes. And there is something that bothers me about the whole thing. As I was wading through all this technical minutiae, it struck me on how depressing the whole thing is.  There are reams upon reams of information on the environment out there; books, websites and blogs from our fellow bloggers and what has struck me like a wicked slap in the face is all this doom and gloom that permeates it all.

I am someone who cares about our world an awful lot. I know there are many of us who do.  I am quite passionate about the state of our planet and how we treat it.  I seldom can watch the news anymore. It gets me all riled up. I find myself yelling at the screen.  Environmental disasters such as oil spills and the like can set me on high simmer. So probably like many others; I have tuned out, I have admittedly buried my head in the sand. A person can only take so much bad news before they shut down.

I recently did a piece on saving the trees. It was mostly hopeful and upbeat. I included some ways on how we all can help our friends the trees. I did a lot of research on the subject and I must admit; it made me depressed.

black dog howling
Credit: Public Domain

I like to put a hopeful spin on my writing and in my life in general but at times I have to fight bouts of depression. I suppose many of us creative types do. I have borrowed a page from Winston Churchill; calling it the black dog. This dog is never welcome but from time to time it sits on my front porch and howls a bit.  This clouds up my skies with gray and I try to distract myself, writing helps, working in the garden helps…helping others and trying to spread a little cheer around really helps.

Let me tell you, reading through endless reports on the state of our environment does not help. To be fair to my fellow writers out there. I know they work very hard, probably much harder than I. They are learned individuals where I am a self-taught layperson. From what I’ve been reading it is easy to see why your average person who probably cares a lot for the planet is turned off by all this stuff.

I think some writers like to show off their vocabulary and knowledge and perhaps like to play a bit on the sensationalism factor.  It is difficult at times to be a reader soaking this up.  There are gifted writers of non-fiction out there who makes learning a pleasure; conveying information seamlessly and seemingly effortlessly but those writers are not as common as I like them to be.

I find myself wading through this information just to get to the pertinent information. Like a bowl of oatmeal; it is good for me, but it’s bland. It just sits there like a tasteless lump and it difficult to digest.

I guess that is one of the reasons that I try to write like I do. I could use bigger words. I could try to impress you with my 20 plus years of acquired knowledge but how boring is that?   This brings me back to the environmental thing. I was reading some blogs by who I’m sure are very smart well-meaning people but…and I ‘m half joking when I say this….but it made me want to jump off the nearest bridge.

 positive-attitude happy face
Credit: Public Domain

If we are going to save this planet we should know what’s going on. I realize just how important and serious it all is and I am no Pollyanna, although at times I may seem like one. I am a former pessimist turned optimistic realist, emphasis on the optimism.

I talked to MM about my troubles.  He is practical where I am not and he usually gives very sound advice.  He said: “You do it.”  “Do what’? I asked. “You should concentrate your writings on the environment, put a positive spin on it, but be real and get people to listen.” He replied calmly like it was the most simple thing in the world.

Wind turbines
Credit: public domain
newfreedompark-garden
Credit: Public Domain

I think what is needed is to face our problems head on and acknowledge them no matter how ugly and then move on to positive ways to deal with them…always looking at the bright side because there is always a bright side. We need to focus on what is good and what others are doing that is making a difference…but the key here is action.

So in the future look for more environmental pieces from me focusing on the bright side and what we as average citizens can do to help.

On the Sunny side of the street but walking with purpose,

Strawberryindigo.

day-of-1000-trees in public domain
Credit: Public Domain

 5 pieces of good news from planet Earth (motherjones.com)

Positive Environment News   (greatnewsnetwork.org)

Good Environmental News (huffingtonpost.co.uk)

Save The Trees (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

Opinions on Environmental Justice Forum (frsm1000dra.wordpress.com)

Observing, Understanding and Respecting Nature is Imperative of Deep Faith (seriouslyplanning.wordpress.com)

Little Bits of Good

Baby B
My son as a baby

The other night I was talking with my son. He has just turned 18 and is thinking about what he wants to do with his life.  He conveyed to me his doubts and fears; his concerns about how the world is.  He told me he sees us humans as parasites and he voiced his concerns about how we are treating our planet and each other.

I listened and kept silent. I thought how much he sounded like myself in the past.  A past not so long ago.  These were things I thought before I decided to have children  It was a choice I considered very carefully. There was a voice in my head that said; how dare I bring another person into this crowded planet? Who was I add another hungry mouth into this already hungry world.

Another side of me: The hopeful part, the ones with dreams, the one that believes in belief, said that it wasn’t up to me to decide. Who was I to discard a potential human life…even and especially, the life of my possible child.?  Who was I to deny life to anyone? Who made me judge, jury and executioner?  If this potential child only had a few years of life…even one year, one month, one second…who was I to deny that?

Who was I to deny his beautiful blue eyes  just one sunset, one hug or one tip toe through the tulips.  Perhaps this child would contribute to the world…perhaps in a way I’d never imagine; maybe this child would be needed.  I thought all of this at the time, almost 20 years ago and all those thoughts and feelings came flooding back to me as I heard the words of my son. I understood his feelings exactly; he is an intelligent and thoughtful young man and he made some very valid points.

I saw the look of defeat in his eyes and a bit of anger too.  I know that anger all too well. The world had already been “screwed up” before either one of us got here. It’s easy to feel hopeless and angry.   I listened carefully to everything he had to say and then it was my turn…

Lately in my life I have found just the right thing to say but I don’t know actually what it will be until it comes out. This is quite new and I think it is all the writing I’ve been doing and I was very grateful for that because I found myself explaining to him much of what I just mentioned,about how I had thought carefully before deciding to have him and I told him how glad I am that he is here now.

002
The proud Mom with child circa 1995

I told him I agreed that the world is going to hell and how we’ve fouled up our seas and skies and land, and how all we humans seem to see is our differences…and how much we fight each other. I also told him how much hope I have for the future and how I believe that we have it in us to make this all right, and how we as a society can change things and how it all starts with one.

I told him how it starts with little changes and how it was up to him to be that change. It is up to him to make a difference in his little corner of the world. To find something near and dear to him and make a difference.  I told him that I thought my writing was like that and if enough people make a small difference…how that could grow and spread.

I talked and talked; a lot  I don’t remember, but I kept talking and as I did I saw the light in his eyes begin to brighten. He was listening and I could sense the lights turning on in his brain.

Then it was my turn again to listen: He told me of his interest in nature and teaching children about nature and sharing his love of it. He told me of his plans and as he did I could see his burden lifting and my heart soared as the corners of his mouth began to curl up into a wide smile.

I’ve never have been prouder of him as I was at that moment… it was very much like the moment when I first held his tiny body in my arms and gazed into his big blue trusting eyes of his; when I knew that I had made the right decision. I have brought another beautiful life into this world who will touch others with his beauty and how wonderful this all is!

baby B nature lover
A Nature advocate in the making

We may be small and insignificant in this world and our actions may seem hopeless; a mere drop in the bucket, but I believe we together…drop by drop by drop, together we are a mighty ocean. Together we can do anything….even save the world! The first step is believing….. and it all starts with you…make your drop count.

water-drop-with-ripple-in public domain
Credit: Public Domain

Thanks for listening,

Strawberryindigo.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

~Desmond Tutu~

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Related Articles

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Save the Trees

“A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.”

~Greek Saying

The tall pines of the Pacific Northwest

I’ve always had a thing for trees; I am a tree-hugger from way back, before I knew there was such a thing. I admit I’ve always carried a torch for tall guys and trees. The statuesque pines of my native Pacific Northwest really do it for me.  I feel safe in the woods among the wild green of the forest. I have always been strangely drawn to them…perhaps it’s in my blood; a throwback to my very distant Native American ancestors, maybe it’s because I am fortunate enough to live a stonesthrow to a temperate rainforest or it could be that trees are just really that wonderfully special and useful structures that are a vital part of out global ecosystem.

I love to be in the forest right after a tender rainfall. The fresh scent of pine is so welcoming to me. The way the morning sun shines through the boughs of the trees and how the steam rises from the tree tops. I feel privileged to witness such an event.

Beyond their majestic beauty, trees provide we the inhabitants of this marvelous planet with so much, they give us their all and we as the human stewards of this land have not returned the favor.  Ever since our beginnings as small rodent-like creatures living in a reptile dominated world we clung to the trees for our very lives. Ever experience the phenomena of falling asleep and feeling the sensation of falling only to “catch” yourself? That is a leftover from our distant mammalian past.  Back to the days when our ancestors lived their entire lives in the tree canopy.  Our close relatives the apes still swing from branch to branch; adept as ever, holding on with one hand whilst using the other to reach for tasty fruit.

mount tabor tree view

Trees today provide sustenance and shelter to a wide variety of lifeforms and they in their wide variety have perfectly adapted to our planet’s many climates and microclimates. Trees are powerhouses of natural resources and we have depended on their immense wealth for as long as we have been here. Unfortunately, I think we take them for granted; believing them to always be in abundance.  There has always been another to chop down…and another and another.

This has led to major deforestation. According to data compiled by the World Resources Institute, our beautiful planet Earth has already lost 80 percent of its forest cover due to deforestation.

Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment.  Seventy percent of the planet’s land animals and plants live in forests, and will perish without their homes. Trees play a crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gases. Fewer forests means larger amounts of these gases entering the atmosphere and this increases the speed and severity of global warming.

Deforestation must stop if we are to continue on this planet.  I think some don’t realise how much we need trees and as a lover of trees, like my literary hero, The Lorax,  I shall speak for the trees…

lorax on stump
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”
~from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss~(credit: Public domain)

Forests are vital to our Ecosystem

Forests counter erosion by holding soil together with their roots, this helps keep the nutrient rich topsoil in place which gives plants something to grow and flourish in, this also helps reduce flooding.  They protect agriculture by modifying local climate extremes and ensuring water supplies. They help prevent pollution by acting like natural sponges and air filters; absorbing storm water that normally would end up in our rivers and streams.

Trees sequester carbon and absorb other airborne pollutants. They even have the ability to clean contaminated soil and ground water. One mature tree releases enough oxygen to support two people.

The leaves of trees absorb light energy, reducing reflected heat. When trees absorb water through their root system, they release moisture through leaf surfaces by a process called transpiration.  This cools the air and can reduce the surrounding temperature by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature directly under the tree by as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Tree canopies blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night. Without them to protect us this will lead to more extreme temperatures swings that can be harmful to plants, animals and humans.

Trees help return water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.

Trees and People

Studies have shown the relationship between trees and nature and mental and physical health. Patients in hospitals heal more quickly if they have a view of trees and nature. People are much more likely to go outside and walk through tree-lined communities,  helping to provide a sense of community and well-being which in itself enhances people’s health. Simply viewing nature, or urban greenery decreases stress levels and enables people to cope better with day-to-day hardships.

Trees are Economical

Trees, especially mature ones, increase real estate values. They muffle urban noise and during the cold season; act as windbreaks; saving on heating costs. During the hot summer months their shade helps cool a house thus saving on air conditioning costs.

Trees are good neighbors

Trees are good for business

Trees not only improves the ability of residential neighborhoods to build community, they also contribute positively to business districts. Studies have shown that shoppers prefer to spend more time in canopied business districts and perceive merchants in those districts more positively than merchants in districts with fewer trees. This ultimately results in wider community networks encompassing not just where we live, but also where we work, shop, and play.

I think I’ve presented a good case for trees. Obviously we need them and they need us . How can we help our friends the trees?

friends of trees

How to help trees

Deforestation is such an immense problem. It is easy to feel helpless. Where do we start?

What follows are some simple ways your average person like you and I can do:

  • If you have the room on your property plant a tree or two…or more. If you must cut one down, replace it with another in a different spot.
  • If you don’t have the room or the opportunity to plant a tree, consider joining the Plant A Billion Trees Campaign and help protect The Brazilian rainforest which is home to 23 species of primates and 1,180 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish and 1,000 species of birds, almost 200 of which are not found anywhere else on Earth. Rainforests help regulate the atmosphere and stabilize global climate.
  • Help support The Nature Conservatory. This is a good cause which needs all the help it can get. Click on the link to read more about this fine organization.
  • Want to help closer to home?  Support Local Land Trusts and Parks. There are many to choose from, just a quick Google search will uncover many.
  • Cut down on junk mail. It’s fairly simple: Register for the Mail Preference Service on the Direct Marketing Association website. For $1, your name and  address will be removed from prospective mailing lists. This should end about 75% of your junk mail within about 90 days. ( Who likes junk mail anyway?)
  • Use Paperless Billing. It cuts down on paper and really simplifies your life, giving you more time to go out and enjoy nature.
  • Another way to save paper is to simply reuse scraps. I use old envelopes for my shopping lists. Also when printing something consider using both sides and while you are at it, ask yourself “Do I really need to print this?” Sometimes you sincerely don’t need to.
  • Libraries are the perfect place to go for free access to newspapers and  magazines in print. E-readers like the Kindle and tablets like the iPad makes it easier than ever to read the digital editions of your favorite publications.
  • Use reusable shopping bags. It can be a hassle to remember but once you get used to it, it gets easy. Keep a few in your car or by the front door. Lead by example and show other shoppers you care about the environment. Perhaps you’ll prompt them to do the same.
  • While you are shopping, whether it be furniture, building materials or paper goods, look for FSC- and SFI-certified products. The FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council, which sets standards for third-party certification of private forests worldwide. The SFI is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which focuses on wood from North American Forests. Another excellent way to shop is by using Rainforest Alliance Certified Products, for a list visit their website.
I've got the whole world in my hands
We’ve got the whole world in our hands. Credit: Public domain

WE CAN DO THIS!

I realise what I’ve said here is simplistic and the problem goes so much further than any one person or any one nation for that matter.  I could cover my property in trees and never use a single piece of paper again. Everyone reading this could do the same, but the problem would still be there.  I suppose that’s why I’m writing this; to help keep a dialogue going because we as a society need to have this discussion.  We need to make saving our forests and saving our planet a priority.  Our governments could do so much more.  Socially, we can do more.  We are a constantly evolving people and what was acceptable once doesn’t mean it has to be acceptable in the future.

Many believe that growing our economies is more important than growing trees. These two important causes do not need to be mutually exclusive. We the people are a force to be reckoned with.

Write a blog post; better yet, write your local government official, write the president, any president… tell them we need to stop the abuse of our planet, if not for our sake, for the sake of our children and our children’s children who will inherit the mess from us.  Think the environment is going to hell now?  This is nothing compared to the nightmare that future generations may inherit if we don’t act.

I don’t mean to sound negative because I am hopeful.  We have made it this far in the evolutionary ladder. This is another stepping stone to our ultimate destiny, whatever that will be.

We in the first world can lead the way, together with the rest of the world we can fix this. The time of the United States’ domination is over. We have set the standard for the rest of the world and it’s not fair to blame other less fortunate countries from trying to get a piece of what we have. Instead of condemning and punishing them, we need to help them. We need to work together on this. This planet belongs to us all and so does the problem.

We can do it!

3 trees

“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness.” 

~Khalil Gibran

UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

The Benefits of Trees (newswatch.nationalgeographic.

Deforestation Facts and Stats (worldpreservationfoundation.org)

Reforestation (oregonforests.org)

The Friends of Trees (www.friendsoftrees.org)  An excellent organization

“Look Now–The world in facts, stats, and graphics” ©2010 by Joe Fullman, Ian Graham, Sally Regan and Isabel Thomas

“The Urban Tree Book” ©2000 by Arthur Plotnik 

“The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss (one of my all-time personal favorites)

electric blue sky with pines by SBI

I speak for the trees (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com) One of my first posts

Severe Drought In The Amazon Is Caused By Climate Change, Study Finds (planetsave.com)

Tree and human health may be linked (sott.net)

Real Estate Tip:Trees Improve Energy Efficiency (themarycoxteam.wordpress.com)

Clones of the world’s oldest and largest trees,… (rivalanimus.com)