Thoreau’s Lament

My last few posts were to tell you about my experience attending the Children and Nature Network’s annual conference at the Lied Conference Center at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska. It was a productive, positive, and to keep the alliteration going, a profound two plus days.

I have reported on and written about and mused about our human connection to what we call nature for many years, but I have seldom witnessed a collection of folks who not only demonstrate their commitment by daily action, but who do so altruistically for they believe with quantifiable evidence that the survival of our culture depends on the acknowledgement of nature as part of us.

For the first time in human history we are in danger of having a generation of youngsters who have never experienced what we call nature, who have never spent quality time in what we affectionately call the “outdoors”.

It is possible, if we keep going the way we are, many children may never hear wild bird calls, sleep in a tent, paddle a canoe, fish, hunt, or understand the myriad of kingdoms that exist within the forest canopy and also under the leaves of the forest floor and how we have a symbiotic relationship in mutual survival.

To me that is a sadness beyond understanding. I share the goals of the Children and Nature Network and hope that every child, young and old, will experience what I do every time I take a walk in the woods.

My walk began at wooded rim, beneath an autumn sky
The morning air was crisp, and dust came from the dry.
I looked around at nature knowing I would find
Her rhythm in a rock, and reason in her rhyme.

I heard it first on the path, walking, slowly not too far.
It faded in and out of mind, like a distant twinkling star.
Then louder came its gentle tone, uniquely humming mild,
When tuning clear to natures sound, your spirit is beguiled.

You know it in the sparkle of a trickling tiara stream
That slides o’er stone and granite bead crowning Gaia queen.
You feel it in the wilting wind with all its names that please,
“Refreshing,” “Cooling,” “Gentle,” special kinds of breeze.

You see it in the flora and the rainbows of the flower,
As blossoms burst with color, in a natural sculptured bower.
You taste it in her breath when fragrance fills the air,
With tiny pollens of her heart, perfumes of scented prayer.

Nature’s essence is profound; her truth comes when you listen,
To the dew that’s on the grass and hear the sunlight glisten.
Squinting crystals in the bright that hide when it is warm,
Returning precious liquid life in shower and in storm.

I found it tiny, on the ground, in trails of hurried ants.
I found it too, among the herbs and healing medicine plants.
I find it often in the trees, amid a darting of delight
As playful fluttering feathered ones put magic in their flight.

There are other things to know, from the silence of her breach,
And heed the wise and warning shrill of the Owl’s casting screech.
Nature’s sound speaks many tongues to tell us there is trouble
For in the print of humankind, the future reeks in rubble.

But on this day, I shall not dwell on the ablutionary bad,
For it would change my wooded walk and make my smile sad.
In all my walks, on many paths, even ones without a tree,
I choose to find the joy of life, for nature lives in me.

Nebraska Dawn

I’m in Nebraska at the Lied Lodge conference center of the Arbor Day Farm. I rose early and took a solitary stroll onto their abundant trails. I wandered over wooden bridges, across a gentle creek and into a sentient forest full of woodchip paths and life. Whenever I break my usual daily routine – poetic inspiration is often the result.

Before the dawn, below the light
There is a time, that still is night.
A morning dark festooned with song
In arias from flying throng.
A choral mirth and melody,
A whistling chanting rhapsody.

When rising orb bursts from the dim,
The song and light becomes a hymn
As flashing streaks of morning sun
Ignite the path of stroller’s run.
Then bleaching light and harmony
absorb the dark from plains prairie.

Soon colors shine from leaf and bloom;
Their fragrant scents belie perfume.
When flowers reach to touch the glow,
The dew upon is lit flambeau.
Refracted rays of golden bright
Bring out the rainbow from this sight.

Like the bloom, the mornin’ flowers
Into a day of lazy hours,
But nothing like the early morn’
With it’s Cantata to adorn
The heart of nature and her tone
That lets you know you’re not alone.

The Ugly, The Bad, The Good

There are the new pieces of pain on the planet today.

More death and injury in Iraq, violence in India, destruction and displacement in Texas, new dead in Yemen and there are the old stories of continuing sorrow as ethnic factions care not for the people, but power.

There are the hungry and starving in sub-Saharan Africa and dozens of other places, including the United States where 30 million people, including 12 million children go hungry every day.

But for every dark spot of pain on this earth, there are thousands upon thousands of places and people filled with light.

I am observing one as I write this post. A conference of participants in the children & nature network at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska. It is an organization started by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods. These are dedicated people who want nothing more than for a child to have an experience of the outdoors.

Every positive action like this, every act of kindness, courtesy, compassion, every place or thing of beauty, every smile brightens, lightens the density of dark places. The light of positive thought always dispels the negative dark. All we have to do is choose be it.

Mr. Wall Street

What with yesterday’s debacle on Wall Street and the anniversary of the 1929 Stock Market crash coming up. I am reminded of how a bad time made one man famous.

He was Richard Whitney. A hero of that first day of the crash. Prices were plummeting. The ticker tape was hours behind. Whitney’s intent was to restore calm. He began to buy and word spread that he represented New York’s major banks.

The market rallied and the press hailed Whitney as a white knight. He was suited for the role. Richard Whitney was one of the most trusted men in America. He had a townhouse on the elegant east side. He raised thoroughbreds on his New Jersey farm. After saving the market, he left for a weekend fox hunt.

Even though the market fell again, people remembered Whitney’s hour of glory. He became the youngest man ever to head the New York Stock Exchange.

When Congress investigated the crash, Whitney testified first. He was ” Mr. Wall Street”.

But he had a secret. The crash had wiped him out. He mortgaged his estate, borrowed from his rich friends, and when the money ran out he stole from everyone. The New York Yacht Club, Harvard, family trust funds, a widow’s fund.

No one noticed until Whitney missed a routine meeting and a clerk blurted out the truth. Mr. Wall street went to Sing Sing.