Plants have been flying out of the nursery, going to various restoration projects.  They will help restore life to hillsides, parks, construction sites, disturbed watersheds and neighborhood green belts.  On a smaller scale perhaps, your yard contributes to the region-wide effort to bring healing to the land.  It is a daunting task, mainly due to various forms of “development”. 

That term generally means that nature loses out.  Even if you have only lived in the area for a few years, you know what I’m talking about.  People put their mark on the landscape, whether it involves building a new deck or new shopping center, taking down trees for the sake of lumber or cleaner gutters.  And of course, there are many, many benefits to development.  But hopefully our culture is moving in the direction of a renewed form of development: developing a culture of conservation and balance.  There is very little balance right now.  Since settlers began displacing native cultures with our current culture of extraction from and dominance over nature, the natural ecosystems have been suffering.  We have a long road to travel, both in terms of reshaping our attitudes toward nature and in terms of reshaping our man-made landscapes to bring tangible healing to the land. 

Just in case this sounds like liberal – even radical – claptrap to some, I’d like to remind people that I’m advocating a conservative concept: conservation.  Conservation means using nature while protecting it.  We are humans.  We need to use nature.  But in the past 150 years, we have been engaged in a truly radical reshaping of the natural world in the Pacific Northwest that has destroyed whole populations of species.  And to our own detriment; we’ve brought physical and mental ills upon ourselves.  The book Ishmael, a somewhat woo-woo tale about a talking(?) gorilla, teaches about the difference between “Takers” and “Leavers”.  We are, overall, a society of “Takers”.

The good news is that we each have some power to change things, to help heal our bit of this planet.  You have some bit of land that you have responsibility for.  Find ways of enriching the natural life that is already there.  Work with your spouse, your neighbors, your church, your homeowners association to create large and small swathes and patches of healthy, life-filled land.

 I was loading Cedars and Ninebark into the truck for delivery to a project site and spotted a Long-toed Salamander curled in the spaces between the pots. I carefully picked it up and set it under the big quince bush (not a native, but great hiding place for birds, bunnies and other critters).  It instantly disappeared, blending in perfectly with the golds and browns of the decaying leaves. 

Yesterday under a pile of Sword Fern fronds, I found another one.  In some ways, our daunting job of restoring balance to damaged nature is simple and easy.  As Brian Bodenbach (my inspiring partner and owner of Biosphere, a landscaping company) likes to tell people, “Leave the leaves!”  How easy is that?  Leaf litter provides protection and nourishment for a host of creatures, which in turn provide food for birds, for example.  Wherever you can, take that one simple step of healing! 

Be a “Leaver”!

One Response

  1. […] for different birds even in a relatively small area.   And you know from an earlier blog post (“Leaving”) about the value of leaving leaves on the ground.  Native birds need native […]

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