Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Mother’s Day Meander

A deep connection to the earth is the common thread among all 1st Nations’ people about whom I’ve read, whether they live north or south of the arbitrary lines Europeans drew upon the land. In every biography written by 1st Nations’ People, it begins with a recollection of a childhood where the elders fostered a profound and respectful consciousness of what is commonly referred to as “Nature.” It’s an experience with which we European moderns, the “come heres” of the continent, are less and less familiar.

Writing Fly Away Snow Goose led me to a lot of rumination on this subject--our relationship with the earth. It's a deep subject we've just begun to learn about and understand. 

Many folks my age remember playing outside most days during school summer holidays. The old house where I lived was across the street from a dairy farm. The surrounding fields were in hay, corn, and alfalfa. The farmer didn’t care if my mother and I roamed across them, or if I visited a wonderful pond adjacent to a large shabby woods. In the spring the pond was full of tadpoles, crayfish, and blue gills. Later, in summer, multicolored frogs sang and courted along the edges. Butterflies and dragonflies sailed above muddy flats, and floated over flowering plants, whose names I did not know, although I admired them.  

Some days I’d see rabbits, foxes, or woodchucks, or stumble across deer at their midday rest.  Red winged blackbirds nested among the cattails; purple martens performed fighter-pilot maneuvers over the pond.  At home, we had a mud nest of barn swallows every year on the far end of our porch—off-limits to us until they’d finished the fascinating business of rearing their yearly family. The little ones with their rusty bosoms would be flying and chowing down by the beginning of August-super-buggy season.

Times have changed. Farms and wood lots have disappeared; malls go on for miles. About a decade ago, I heard of a very small girl who was taken for a walk in the woods for the first time when she was about 2 years old. Her entire experience up until then had been inside of houses, playing in groomed suburban yards, or passing through parking lots and shopping malls. After that first walk on a nature trail, she pronounced the leaf and stick strewn paths to be “messy and uneven.”

It’s a poignant 21st Century story, for it shows how limited a modern child’s experience of the world can be.  Fortunately, this girl's Daddy learned something when he heard it. From then on, he took their together-times outside., so she  wouldn’t suffer from what I’ve come to look upon as Nature Deprivation. Humans are tactile critters--we must touch, smell, taste things in order to quite believe in them.

Humans may end like this Game of Thrones character, picture from Dragon Con (c) here discovered begging inside a multi-level, never-ending shopping mall...

I guess it’s no wonder that some people are so disrespectful to the earth when macadam, cement, or vinyl is the only ground their feet have touched. It’s too bad everyone can't be sent for a few weeks to a summer camp deep in the woods--no wi-fi--for a spiritual rehab. 

After all, we are part of Nature, not the other way around. Perhaps that misunderstanding is the source of the current belief that there will be no consequences for our mega-scale destruction of the delicately balanced systems which sustain all life. 

"The world has not to be put in order: the world is order incarnate..." 
                     ~~Henry Miller.

When our earthly course is run, we proud human creatures will inevitably end as this traditional Lakota prayer to Mother Earth has it:

You who listen and hear all,
You from whom all good things come…
It is your embrace we feel
When we return to you…*

~~Juliet Waldron

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 *From To You We Shall Return by Joseph Marshall III

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