Grateful for the Green World

I am grateful beyond words for the green world that surrounds me. This morning, just as sunrise colors deepened in silent air, water birds on a beaver-built pond a few hundred yards from my house began to splash and call. One bird I have not yet identified repeated a haunting wail that echoed across the water. It was an exquisite moment, and I am deeply grateful for the privilege of being witness to it.

Between the time I was born and the time I left for college, my family lived in eight different houses in six different cities. From my earliest memories at about age three, one constant held true – the green world. I was lucky enough to be able to seek comfort in a grove of tall pines that sang soft lullabies as they swayed in gentle winds while chipmunks scurried on urgent business among their roots. I played imaginary adventures among the roots of giant white oaks that towered around another home. And I spent countless happy childhood hours riding my bike on dirt tracks that wound through abandoned Piedmont farmland in the process of returning to forest, finding moss-covered creek-side spots ideal for reading the books I always carried and old fields full of persimmon trees with fruits that puckered my mouth until I learned the secret to their sweeter nature – the first hard frost. The green world was my teacher and my safe haven.

I always knew I wanted my adult self to live on land I owned — as much as possible. In 1989 when Wonder Spouse and I found our five acres on a chilly January day with snow still covering parts of what was then a country road, I knew immediately that we were home. The house was adequate; the land was full of promise.

As time sped by and the forests around us gave way to countless cookie-cutter subdivisions, I began to read about nature-deficit disorder, and I saw for myself many school children on tours at the NC Botanical Garden who had zero knowledge of my green world. I’ve met many adults who think soil is dirty – something to be obliterated; all insects are pests to be killed; and just this week, one woman in a nearby subdivision was certain the marbled salamander she had found was poisonous and needed killing.

My heart flip-flops daily between gratitude for my connection to the green world and grief for its annihilation at the hands of plant-blind humans unable to understand they are fouling their home irretrievably, dooming future generations to a world where children will be unable to splash their feet in a clear babbling creek, chase fireflies in sultry summer twilight, or listen to the haunting calls of barred owls hunting in a snow-softened landscape.

I am grateful, because I was lucky enough to be born when the green world in my southeastern Piedmont region was still lush with life. This Thanksgiving, I give thanks for that, and I pray that the children of today and tomorrow will have the chance to find their connections to the green world, because their parents woke up just in time to save it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

  1. #1 by Betsy bombick on November 28, 2019 - 10:17 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I too share both the grieving and the sense of wonder you describe. Grateful for your witness.

  2. #3 by Donna Deal on November 28, 2019 - 5:33 pm

    I share your prayer. It is truly hard to see how far separated from nature we have become, as a society. Beautifully written.

    • #4 by piedmontgardener on November 28, 2019 - 6:04 pm

      Thanks, Donna. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  3. #5 by Hugh Martin on November 28, 2019 - 6:19 pm

    Beautiful words that convey the feelings that many of us are unable to share. I’m grateful for you and other friends who share the same outlook on the world.

    • #6 by piedmontgardener on November 28, 2019 - 6:25 pm

      Thank you, Hugh. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  4. #7 by Christine Bradley on November 28, 2019 - 7:52 pm

    Thank you. I think these same thoughts but seldom put them into words.

    • #8 by piedmontgardener on November 29, 2019 - 7:39 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Christine …. and for sharing these thoughts.

  5. #9 by Julie Higgie on November 30, 2019 - 12:12 pm

    This is very beautiful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    • #10 by piedmontgardener on November 30, 2019 - 12:49 pm

      Thanks, Julie. I hope you and your family are enjoying a lovely Thanksgiving weekend.

  6. #11 by Jane Stevens on December 1, 2019 - 12:55 pm

    I feel this grief too. It can be overwhelming. I found a podcast on the ecosia blog which helped me think about it. It is episode 7. The whole site is optimistic and you may know it already but you can use it as your search engine to plant trees.

    • #12 by piedmontgardener on December 1, 2019 - 3:42 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion, Jane. And thanks for stopping by.

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