“Saint Thérèse of Lisieux invites us to practice the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness.”
This is from Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si” (Paragraph 230). It’s not one of his most moving or controversial passages, but I find it to be a prescription that is eminently doable. I think it’s Papa Frank’s theological way of saying the little things count. It’s something we can all do. It’s something we should all do.
On this Earth Day, I celebrate the little things around me. I rejoice in the many Six-lined Racerunner lizards scampering around the front porch. They were our first neighbors when we moved into this house. They remind me of all those geckos in the townhouse in Mililani Town. The Racerunners were just the vanguard of a host of amazing insects, reptiles, birds and furry mammals in my yard. I’ve been pursuing a policy of no pesticides, abundant natural plantings and little fertilizer to bring on this abundance.
On a grander, but still local, scale, we have the success of our Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. This is a gem in Virginia’s crown that I was able to see come to fruition. I was reminded of this by a column in my local paper this morning by Hal Wiggins.
“The April 1 opening of Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve was a great event for the people of Stafford County and the world. The preservation of this 2,872-acre fragile ecosystem was an extraordinary effort that took over 15 years of negotiations.
Among the many important biological attributes contained within Crow’s Nest are 2,200 acres of mature hardwood forest, including two forest types that are recognized as globally rare by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Natural Heritage Program. There are 750 acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands on the Crow’s Nest peninsula that account for 60 percent of all the marshes in Stafford County, and represent some of the best examples of diverse and intact wetland habitats in the Potomac River drainage, along with 21 miles of stream, riparian and wetland buffer.”
Read the rest of the column at the Free-Lance Star.
I already enjoy the area from my kayak. The canoe/kayak launch is less than thirty minutes from my house on our narrow country roads. What a joy it is.
Great msg from the Pope. We are nature’s caretakers. Here in Bellevue, NE, withing two miles of Offutt AFB, my neighbor took a picture of a mountain lion walking past a brush pile back of my house. Hope he thins out the deer we have around here. The coyotes have already thinned the too abundant rabbit population. Maybe we can worry less about ticks and Lyme disease. I too will not put pesticides on my lawn or worry about moles in my yard. Easier to stomp on their burrows.
The truly blessed are not those with grand accomplishments but those who receive daily pleasure from the “small things” of life and human kindness. Too many citizens are now so dead to life that they seem no longer human.
One fatal human failing is our inability to develop balance in others. Maybe it is mere chance as to whether our brain is wired to respond well to the kindness of human society.
How fortunate you are! My mother’s father was a Stafford descended from Laban Stafford, who arrived in Virginia in the 18th century. I pass for a native Californian currently…
What an appropriate post for earth day. In my comings and goings I’ve forgotten how beautiful our own setting is, complete as it is with kangaroos on the lawn at dawn, wombats, deer, king parrots, cockatoos (both white and the rare black) and an abundance of skinks, blue tongue lizards and the occasional snake. We have an abundance of frogs at the moment and one has to be careful picking silver beet in our veggie garden to miss the little critters,…..,even more careful chopping up vegetables to avoid the odd errant ammphibian.
Zechariah 4:10 “For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”
SWMBO has planted many bee friendly plants around the yard that flower and make her happy. I fear, though, that the coming tidal wave of change in the climate will sweep all before it (as has happened again and again over geological time), but for today, the bees are happy here.
What a wonderful post, TTG. I too decline to put toxins in my garden. And I too like to stop and smell the roses.
Yes, the bees are in peril. I fear for them every Spring. Just a few days ago, I heard the roar of hundreds or thousands of bees among the blossoms of my holly trees. I rejoiced in their triumphant chorus.
I am glad to hear that Stafford county decided to preserve this important area. In the last election voters in my county voted to increase taxes to fund an Open Space district to acquire and preserve land to prevent developer “control” of local politicians from making all open land available for development. We also have an active private land trust that is buying the development rights of ag land.
Here’s to the first yellow puffs of leaves on the massive old battered hulks of the line of ancient oaks behind my home. The endless blue skies in which tumble and joust crows and buzzards and ravens – ravens which have not been seen in this area for over a hundred years. The vivid yellows of primroses, cowslips, celandine, dandelions and daffodils stood out against the green sea of grass. And beneath the grass the pure white of delicious St George’s mushrooms which, for the first time for years, have not arrived punctually today – St George’s day.
Here’s to all the women of the village who run around tirelessly helping others – especially the elderly and ill. And the men of the village who can always be relied on to exchange an affectionate insult. And one man particularly – poacher, grave digger, hedge layer, general scoundrel, manic depressive – who every evening when not renovating ancient motor cycles visits the lonely old men and talks about the old, better days.
Times are bad. There are many evil people about. But human beings thrive in adversity.
I’m on well water so avoid pesticides and herbacides. Unfortunately they are not going away anytime soon. Dow Chemical is putting on a huuuge lobbying campaign.
Thanks for this! Yes, I hear St. T speaking to how the qualitative space holding our world together is a dimension that does not require monetary or material wealth to influence positively, and gloriously reflects those virtues that cannot be bought and yet are worth infinitely more than money.
Thrilling to see that also via the reflection on the ecosystem. My grandfather’s land in Manassas used to reach back to the tributaries there; what’s left (after some subdivision) under the gaze of my cousin is well cared for: his son is passionate about the waterways and fish life; so glad to hear news from the streams and have the links to share, thanks!
Here is a nice and inspiring video of a permaculture farming couple “down under,” to resonate your earth day celebrations:
Anyone able would do well to do bee keeping, also!
LOVE? I thought, in 2017, nothing could top Donald “Donnie Brasco” Trump’s dirty hit on the R5 in Syria…oh, but then I saw Kadri’s merciless “clipping” of Ovi’s legs (Old Testament it was!).
NO LOVE! Not tonight TTG. Those dastardly upstart Leafs must permanently exit Lord Stanley’s great tournament. Partly because they represent the universally reviled city of “Toronto”. But mostly because I cannot forgive them for thwarting the wildcard attempt of my beloved Tampa Bay Lightning.
That said…fair warning TTG. Your caps will get it too. My #2 fav’s in the league, the Nashville Predators…they’re HERE! (dramatically blows out lamp light like Bray Wyatt POOF!)
A great post, TTG.
We have retired away from having a garden or, at first, a small farm. But the challenges of minimizing environmental impacts show up every day. My favorite fishing beach was replenished last fall and the normal fishing cycle is broken. There is only now the beginning of new coquina and ‘sand fleas’ that form the bottom of the food chain. The replenishment is needed because the jetties built at the mouth of the St. John’s river shrank a beach that was once wide enough for Jimmy Doolitle to use as a runway for his flight from there to California, all the way back in 1922. Further down the shore, expensive houses now have waves lapping at their foundation.
Hurricane Matthew ate away much of the dunes. Panic stricken homeowners, in some cases, ordered up ‘sand fences’ to rebuild dunes, which will probably not work on coquina beaches and will most assuredly serve as death traps for nesting sea turtles. Fall storms will rip these fences apart and turn them into wooden shrapnel, nicely held together the wire they are, in part, constructed of.
Naturally deposited grass wrack and a few bales of hay would be even more effective and wildlife friendly. But, the patience to go that route is sorely lacking. Fingers crossed we can find that longer view before we lose those bits of nature left to us.
Yeah. That dirty hit. But Russian Machine Never Breaks. Ovi went back to the locker room, had a Coke, watched Oshie score on the power play and came out hitting the next period. I’m fairly certain it’s just the bias talking, but I swear the NHL refs truly hate the Caps and make their calls accordingly. Caps fans hate them way more than the Leafs. Those two fan bases are surprisingly amiable… for now.
You’re right about the Preds. They are smoking at just the right time.
I share your concern about our coastlines and our short sighted and selfish efforts to mold them to our will. The damage we do is shocking. Maybe if I owned waterfront property, I’d be just as shortsighted and selfish. Or perhaps that exactly why I wouldn’t own that waterfront property.
Fredericksburg has managed to acquire and retain the water rights along a good section of the upstream Rappahannock watershed. They’re going a good job of preserving the River including pushing the creation of conservation easements on private land.
Nature will defeat them, you just need to be patient.
I will let loose against you the fleet-footed vines.
I will call in the Jungle to stamp out your lines!
The roofs shall fade before it,
The house-beams shall fall;
And the Karela, the bitter Karela,
Shall cover it all!
How I identified with Mowgli’s wrath as a forest running youth.
Black cockatoos? You must be living somewhere in Far Northern Australia then, I assume.
The more people do a little bit, the more little bits get done.
Here is some pep-talk cheer. When people dismiss the little bit as a drop in the bucket, it is well to remember that in pharmacy, by convention, a drop is defined as being one twentieth of a milliliter. And there are a thousand milliliters in a liter. To keep track of my own argument, I will define a liter as being “just about” a quart. So . . . there are twenty thousand drops in a quart. Which means there are 80,000 drops in a gallon. Which means there are 400,000 drops in a 5-gallon bucket. So if 400,000 people each throw one drop apiece in the bucket, 400,000 people fill up the bucket.
At that rate, 12 million people can fill up a 30 gallon bathtub with one drop per person. The more people, the more merrier.
Also, I saw a flying squirrel in the brushy woods behind my co-op dwelling unit about 5 nights ago.
The small natural areas that so many communities treasure are jewels! Thank you to anyone who supports, lobbies or, simply, enjoys them. A little bit here and a little bit there—soon you are talking about some REAL land!
Lovely, TTG. Thanks.
I would have envied your lizards when I was a boy. Heck, I envy them now. We moved to Memphis when I was a child from a suburb of LA. I was expecting to see green anole lizards because they were at my uncle’s home in Georgia. But they didn’t seem to live in Memphis. I felt cheated. And we were too far north for alligators, though there were some massive swamps in northern Arkansas nearby that seemed perfect for them. But they were too far north for the gators.
I had to settle for the tiny snakes we’d find when pulling weeds. Definitely snakes, not worms as some dumb friend tried to argue. They had scales, ingest, and eyes. There was the occasional slimed salamander we’d find in the leaves in the wooded area of our yard. We did visit the Everglades on a vacation. My older sister was disgusted, but I was in heaven.
“I’ve been pursuing a policy of no pesticides, abundant natural plantings and little fertilizer to bring on this abundance.”
My wife and I have been using the same policy since we bought our house. Along with the vegetation we’ve had snakes, rabbits and foxes all take up residence in our front yard st various times. Much more satisfying than trying to achieve putting green grass. And a lot less effort.
Perhaps a simple Earth Day balance sheet–Acres poisoned as against those protected and restored anywhere on Mother Earth?