The natural world, as recognized over and over again can be our best teacher. The struggles and stresses that we perceive in our daily lives can get to be such a drain on us. When this happens, our lives are no longer in cadence or harmony with others and the natural world. We start to feel distressed and lost while even armed with our fine educations, years of therapy, self-awareness and physical fitness. Where do we turn? There seems to be no answer and no one to help us.
I remember when I was very young and my parents used to argue with each other, I would get very upset and walk out of the house. There was an old red oak stump in our timber. I would just sit there, staring at the ground and trees around me. It was my escape and my haven from stress and turmoil. This little wood lot that had been so mistreated and now barely remained had become my friend and companion. Having been stripped of all valuable timber long ago, then grazed, then abandoned, now recovering but extremely scarred, the landscape did not complain but only saw new opportunity for change and a new life. The stripping of its timber was not harbored in a memory bank filled with judgments of greed or bad behavior. No one was being held responsible for the condition of this little parcel. Out of what looked like total defilement and desolation came a new beginning and a new life for this old, old piece of ground.
There were Yellow Warblers, Myrtle Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, Ruby Crown Kinglets, and Purple Finches, over 100 species of beautiful birds in this small haven along with squirrels, rabbits and copperheads. It was amazing that this land, so poor, could house and care for such a diversity of life. Underneath the shallow leaves and humus of the oaks and hickories, it was only 2″ to shale rock. Erosion had not even allowed a new soil to stay in place. Now a new soil was starting to form. The oaks grew ever so slowly, but they grew. Now, down the slope, a small clearing, a little knoll occupied by Andropogon virginicus, or Broom Sedge as we called it, was dotted with Eastern Red Cedars. From here, I could lie down in the grass and look to the south and east to see a whole horizon bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Only 12 miles away, I could see Big Bald Mountain on the North Carolina line marked by the Appalachian Trail. It was a beautiful wilderness within site of this abandoned and forgotten vestige that was once a link and connection to these mighty mountains. Like a child cast out into a desert of chaos and severed from its mother, this little wood lot had become an island. My education and awareness might not have been that well established at the age of nine but my feelings were in tact and I knew this was a place where I could go and start to heal and find comfort. I didn’t have to worry about conflict here. I was accepted and I fit in with the rest. I became part of that landscape and it is still within me. I have learned from the great spirit of the natural world. Every change is an opportunity for a new beginning. Nature does not hear or respond to shame, blame, doubt, and guilt nor does she harbor regrets or grudges. She takes what she has and moves on to constantly create more beauty in the world.
I think it’s time to move on and create some beauty in our world. Won’t you join the natural world
Posted in Agriculture, Bird and Butterfly Attractor Station, Birds, CRP Land, Environment, Fall Planting, Fall Plantings, Gardening, Grass, Ion Exchange Inc, Live Plant Plugs, man and nature, Mountains, Native Grasses, Native Plant and Seed Nursery, Native Prairies, native wildflowers, natural world, Nature, nature retreat, Perennial Garden, Perennial Plants, Tallgrass Prairie, Urban Gardens, Wildflower Garden, Wildflowers and Native Grasses, wildlife, Wildlife Gardening, Woodland
Tagged Appalachian Trail, Beautiful Birds, Beauty, Beauty in the World, Birds, Blue Ridge Mountains, Copperheads, Daily Lives, Daily Stresses, Daily Struggles, Earthyman, Erosion, Harmony, Haven, Horizon, Ion Exchange, Ion Exchange Inc, Land, Landscape, Leaves, Mountaians, Native Seed, NE Iowa, North Carolina, Northeast Iowa, Plant Nursery, Rabbits, Soil, Spirit, Squirrels, The Natural World, Timber, Trees, Wilderness, World
As I mapped soils throughout eastern Iowa back in the early 70’s, it was interesting for me to put together a picture of what the original landscape looked like. In eastern Cedar County, I came upon some soils that did not fit the general description of prairie or savanna soils in that they were somewhere in between the two. I pondered this as I walked day after day over the land and began to see the picture in my mind. Savannas are transitions from prairie to a micro climate that favors some tree growth. There must be all grades of transition but what are they called? When does a prairie become a prairie as we walk westward out of the timber into the savanna into the “prairie”? When does a prairie become a savanna? What is your definition of a savanna? I don’t think there is a definition or name that can be placed on this “la la land of the past”. One way to look at these ecosystems is to imagine an interaction not individual influences, although they may be critical. If we back away in time and peer down from above, we can see a constant winning and waning of movement much like the tides that come and go.
What footprint is left in the soil to give us clues to the past? Certainly visual imprints are evident even though the land is now covered with corn and beans.
John Madson, who wrote Where the Sky Began, so beautifully described his vision of coming out of the timber and seeing, looming in front of him, an open sky and a sea of grass as far as the eye could see. He made mention of the front line soldiers sent out by the savanna or timber which allowed the advancement of the savanna and timber upon the prairie. Wild plumb trees were sent out as a front line defense or offense depending upon which the environment favored. Sometimes the battle would be won by the prairie and other times by the savanna and eventually a total overthrow of one over the other but the soldiers of the front line are always forgotten for they are in this “la la land of transition”. I was reminded of them that day in Cedar County, Iowa as I observed the grainy grey coats of the now vanished front line soldiers of the savanna who left their mark upon the prairie soil profile. Were they lost in battle as they succumbed to the forces of the prairie or were they stopped dead in their tracks by the ever- advancing moldboard plow?
I am reminded of my life and how it is much like this ever- changing world that we know as Prairie and Savanna but not a struggle or battle but the ebb and flow with the tides of life. Just as every component of the prairie and savanna are a part of the total wonderment of creation so are we. Are we on the frontline of change? Do we have the courage to move forward regardless of the elements that we face? The lessons of the land are there for all of us if we just open our eyes and hearts and breathe in the intuitive powers of this great planet.
Howard Bright, President
Ion Exchange, Inc.
“Helping you create your own natural beauty”
Posted in Agriculture, CRP Land, Environment, Farmland, Gardening, Grass, Ion Exchange Inc, Live Plant Plugs, man and nature, Native Grasses, Native Plant and Seed Nursery, Native Prairies, native wildflowers, natural world, Nature, Perennial Garden, Perennial Plants, Sowing Seed, Tallgrass Prairie, Wildflower Garden, Wildflowers and Native Grasses, wildlife, Wildlife Gardening, Woodland
Tagged Cedar County IA, Cedar County Iowa, Climate, Ecosystem, ecosystems, environment, Grass, IA, Ion Exchange, Ion Exchange Inc, Iowa, John Madson, Land, Landscape, Planet, prairie, Prairie Soil, Savanna Soils, Sky, Soils, Soldiers, Timber, Tree, Where the Sky Began