“The earth is our origin and destination. The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart. The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows. When we emerge from our offices, rooms and houses, we enter our natural element. We are children of the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home. Nothing can separate us from the vigour and vibrancy of this inheritance. In contrast to our frenetic, saturated lives, the earth offers a calming stillness. Movement and growth in nature takes time. The patience of nature enjoys the ease of trust and hope. There is something in our clay nature that needs to continually experience this ancient, outer ease of the world. It helps us remember who we are and why we are here.” ― John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace
Today I am sitting in my hometown in the mountains of NC working on a friend’s porch. It’s a beautiful day. Dappled sunshine on the Blue Ridge. The rhododendrons have finished blooming and the mountain laurel blooms are fading. It seems as if this landscape might have looked like this since the Cherokee lived here, but that’s not true. The natural world is changing here due to human activity. There are fewer songbirds and butterflies migrating through. The hemlocks have been decimated by a non-native insect. The dogwoods are diseased because in these parts, climate change means more rain and warmer temperatures resulting in disease and fungus that the trees can’t fight off.
As I drive around the county, I notice that there is more flooding in low-lying areas. Most of the subsidized housing is in this area, as are the new, electrical towers that light, heat, and cool the town’s homes and businesses. In short, minority groups, the poor, and compromised plant and animal species in my town bear the brunt of poor short-term and long-term human decision making.[Read more…]