After talking to college students at Earth Day celebrations this week,
environmental artist and organic farmer Bill Duesing takes a walk through
the woods to a very special place.
Living on the Earth, April 21, 2000, For Earth Day
I head down the hill behind our house toward Eight Mile Brook. Although
the stream is nearby, just a thousand feet away and 200 feet downhill, this
walk takes me into another world-wonderful and awe-inspiring.
The path winds through a forest of oak, maple, hickory, tulip, birch and
hemlock trees, becoming steeper as it approaches the brook. The
spring-full stream tumbles over rocks, filling the ravine with its soothing
sound as it flows toward the Housatonic River. The air is deliciously
fragrant, moist and satisfying. Prolific lichens attest to its purity.
Deep green moss with the lighter and bluish-green lichens create an
incredibly sensuous texture all over trees, boulders and the stone wall
across the brook.
Trilliums, dog tooth violets and ferns blanket the ground. Mountain laurel
grows near the water. A hawk cries loudly and flies away to take my
attention from her nest high in an oak tree. A red fox trots upstream
along the top of the opposite bank.
Rusting barbed wire hanging from trees near the brook reminds me that most
of this forest has grown up since the cows left, probably about fifty years
ago. Except for a few mighty oaks, this magnificent forest is younger than
I am. This inspiring ecosystem was created by nature after humans and
livestock had deforested it. I greatly appreciate this place's beauty and
Ecosystems provide essential services for all of us. This young forest
produces clean air, stores and purifies water as it builds topsoil. It
evolves all on its own toward greater diversity, more stored organic
matter, increased structural complexity and greater metabolic stability.
Not only is it beautiful, it is also necessary in order for us to live.
Yet because ecosystems are not part of our everyday experiences we forget
their importance, our connection to and dependence upon them.
The great beauty and value of this place come from just leaving the Earth
alone. Yet humans are clearly not leaving ecosystems alone. Besides
omnipresent development pressure, ecosystems everywhere are threatened by
the sharp rises in population, species extinctions, concentration of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere and global consumption. The Earth's population
increases by the equivalent of another New York City, over seven million
people, every month and each new person needs services only ecosystems can
This Earth Day we should acknowledge the efforts and successes of Land
Trusts, other citizen's groups and governments in preserving open space and
ecosystems. We can show our appreciation by simplifying our lives in order
to lessen their destructive effects on the environment.
Visit a special, natural place this weekend! Happy Earth Day.
This is Bill Duesing, Living on the Earth
Bill and Suzanne Duesing operate the Old Solar Farm (raising NOFA/CT
certified organic vegetables) and Solar Farm Education (working on urban
agriculture projects in southern Connecticut and producing "Living on the
Earth" radio programs). Their collection of essays "Living on the Earth:
Eclectic Essays for a Sustainable and Joyful Future" is available from Bill
Duesing, Box 135, Stevenson, CT 06491 for $10 postpaid or through any
Now in its tenth year, "Living on the Earth" airs at 6:53 Friday mornings
on WSHU, 91.1 FM Public Radio, serving Connecticut and Long Island. Essays
from 1995 to the present, and an audio version of this week's essay are
available at www.wshu.org/duesing.
Distribution of these essays is encouraged. Reprinting rights available by
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(C)2000, Bill Duesing, Solar Farm Education, Box 135, Stevenson, CT 06491
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