Anyone who knows me at all knows that I love living on Hammond Hill. Actually it can be quite challenging to get me off the Hill especially during the warmer half of the year. But in reality, my deep attachment and love is not limited to Hammond Hill, but expands to our amazing natural world. Sometimes it feels like I am having a series of love affairs as I travel and connect with natural places across the country.
Whether climbing up the sand in the Great Sand Dunes Natural Park near the San Luis Valley of Colorado, or hiking in the Taos Canyon in New Mexico, or backpacking in the Adirondacks or the Finger Lakes Trails or walking on the beaches of Cape Cod – something happens to my heart. It truly fills with gratitude and my eyes will often fill with tears of pure joy and fulfillment. Each time I experience this, I feel that I am home. I want to pitch a tent or build a shelter and just grow roots that sink into the Earth as if I were a tree.
I arrived on the Cape Sunday evening. Monday morning my host stopped by after spending the earliest hours of the morning walking along the beach to rescue Sea Turtles. She informed me that the Sea Turtles that swim up the coast during warm weather were returning south to warmer waters for the winter. Some of them get trapped in the bay and get brought up on to the shore during high tides. The water is too cold for them and they will not survive even if returned to the water, so volunteers like my host gather these turtles to take them to winter in the New England Aquarium. They are then returned to the water when the water warms up. As Taz and I explored the coast of the bay we saw a sign asking for our assistance.
My host shared other stories about the natural environment on the Cape. Stories of the native Black Oaks (Quercas velutina) dying due to past droughts and infestations of gall wasps and then gypsy moths. It saddens me as I think about all of the species of plants and animals dying around the world due to climate change, invasive species and pollutants. A local example of this on Hammond Hill and throughout the North East and Canada, is the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle which is killing off the Ash Trees. The White Ash or American Ash (Fraxinus Americana) is a beautiful tree which fills the forests of Hammond Hill. At Camp
Earth Connection there is a great White Ash that grows in the center of the main field providing a shady area to camp under.
I remember the horror of reading Charles Little’s “Dying of the Trees” about 20 years ago, and prior to that in college reading Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” written just months before I was born in 1962. We have had the information and knowledge of the consequences that our actions have on our natural environment, and yet it has not deterred us. Now as we face the consequences of Climate Change, still there are those denying the importance of changing our behaviors. I have actually heard someone speak the words, “Well, I will be dead before we really feel the impact of Climate Change.”
I too am selfishly grateful that I still have been given the gift of being able to enjoy the beautiful natural environments that persevere. Yet I struggle with what I can do to make a difference for our grandchildren and future generations. I want my grandchildren to be able to experience the great connection and love that I feel for our beautiful natural world. It is after all, where we come from and what we are made of.
I often think before I make a decision, “Can I live with my choice or action regardless of the consequence?” But maybe the question to ask is “Can I die in peace, knowing the choices I make impact my children, grandchildren and generations to come?”
As I plan for the new year at Camp Earth Connection, I will seek the guidance of the universal spirit that moves in all naturalthings with hopes that I can live and die with my actions without guilt or shame. May we all find peace and joy this season as we continue to connect with the Natural World.
With Peace and Gratitude,