Something hid beneath the leaves. A little mound told me so. I learned long before that there were wonders beneath leaves and twigs. So this was well worth investigating. A wonderful morel mushroom was nestled there. The prizes we craved every spring. Yes, I learned to look beneath the leaves. And, I learned a lifelong lesson.
So many are crying for forest management here in the west. No forest fires if these huge forests are managed better. Really? I learned from my father that you don’t mess with nature, because nature is where all wildlife and sweet morels thrive. Baby animals live in underbrush. The earth is nurtured by decaying leaves and limbs. Mother nature knows what is best.
The Rufous Hummingbird has returned to Oregon. The few hummingbirds who wintered here are once more battling these snowbirds for their place on their feeders. I sit in the loft watching out the window as bright patches of green and red flit by. The trees behind us shelter the birds, giving them sustenance as well protection. Living so close to nature is a dream come true. Like my father, I am protective of the nature in our charge. We share it with the grandkids. We soak it up surrounded by windows and evergreens. Sweet birds peek in at us, and the grandkids gather nesting materials to do their part in preserving this ecosystem.
Dad was always upset when he passed a woods where the ground was swept clean of nature’s debris. He would encourage me to think about it. Where did the little critters live when this clearing took place? Where did they find their food that was once tucked beneath those leaves? Where did small plants find their nourishment? Where were would Jack sit in his pulpit and the Dutchman hang his britches? What was more lovely than nature just being itself, serving itself?
Farm land was cleared and crops grew. Over time farmers became aware that overuse of the land and the flatness of it would tend to cause erosion and loss of vital nutrients. The land was rich because of the landscape that came before. The rotting leaves that fed the trees. The animals that nurtured the soil by digging and what they left behind. The soil that was rich with the gifts of the forest and its creatures.
I had no idea what it was like to be surrounded by green all winter long. I had no idea what it was like to see nature in its own environment so close to me yet in its own. Because of all this, we will plant flowers to draw in the bees, butterflies and hummers. We will be cognizant of our responsibility to wildlife, so it in turn will survive to bless our grandchildren.
Nature is indeed an ecosystem that begs to continue as God meant it. It is we who infringe on it. We who use it and abuse it. It is we who tear out trees to build houses and who in turn take away our clean air. It is the mighty dollar that causes the very source of the world’s clean air to be destroyed in South American so enterprises can thrive.
So, please, think on your plans as spring approaches. What flowers will you plant? Could you plant a tree or two? (So what if you have to rake in the fall.) You are creating shade and a home for birds. Be an advocate for conserving what earth we still have not just for yourselves but for those who will come behind. Stop using chemicals that destroy our water sources. Recycle even if your waste management does not. Look at what is around you and realize that we are all the caretakers.
Here in Oregon the Rufous Hummingbirds are back. The daphne is blooming and the daffodils are on the brink of bursting forth. Take it all in. Preserve it. Encourage others to do the same. For we are indeed responsible.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.