Sunday, October 10, 2010


In the long sigh of the afternoon the hot wind reaches through the trees and sends the first leaves of fall tumbling to the ground. There is much on the Internet and in the media about the significance of this date. Couples have chosen today as an auspicious date to marry. I image that there will be an abnormally high number of induced births today as well.

But if you take a moment to listen to the quiet and watch the sun filtering through a spider web, you’ll realize that the natural world knows no alignment of man-made dates. Eons have come and gone, oak trees have watched the California grizzly go from the most formidable creature beneath their limbs to just a distant memory.

 Today the western swallowtail has an urgency because the season is changing. Eggs must be laid soon or its caterpillar-children won’t have time to reach chrysalis stage in time to overwinter. The earth’s creatures have no interest in our human preoccupation with our own created numbers.

The western fence lizard on the wall is missing her tail. Her life-changing date was several days ago. For the pied-billed grebe at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area this morning, her special day still looms in the distance. No matter how she tries, her chick won’t be ready to go off on its own for at least another week. For the desert tortoise who closed a grumpy eye last week and settled in for a winter sleep, what we humans do for the next six months is of little interest.

The only trouble is we humans tend to see the world only through our own eyes. We modify the landscape, from the highest levels of the Earth’s atmosphere to deep within the planet’s crust, without considering our neighbors or even our children.

Today I did the most important thing I could think of to do, I walked an area of local wild lands with three young minds. Three young souls, wide-eyed and excited to experience their wild neighbors. We watched an osprey dive and catch a fish, spotted a great blue heron standing motionless at the water’s edge and learned to recognize a black phoebe. The spider webs between the trees were Halloween perfect, beautiful, not scary. If the next generation doesn’t cherish this planet more than we do, all of the calendars and auspicious dates will amount to nothing.

We have made such a negative impact on our world. How many oil spills and toxic chemical spills will we accept?

May we all step forward and lead the next generation to value a healthy world over personal wants, comforts and desires. 

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