Last spring, Son 1 was working at the house and was listening to an audio book. As I popped in and out assisting or providing water, I was intrigued with what I heard and asked him what the book title was and who was the author. The book was Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Late August, as I was preparing to travel southwest to the mountains of North Carolina for a fiber retreat, I attempted to get the book from our public library as an audio book to listen to as I travelled about 7 hours round trip, but I was so far down on the list that I purchased a paperback copy instead. This followed having read Overstory by Richard Powers based on another of Son 1’s recommendations. For Christmas, he gave me a copy of Gathering Moss, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s first book which I have read a chapter at a time savoring her wisdom.
These three books have caused me to pause and even more strongly recognize what we are doing to our environment. Like Kimmerer, I love a sheet of white paper on my wood desk with the grain of the wood as a background, but at what cost were they provided. I love wood tools, live in a log home cut from a monoculture tree farm and again at what cost to the environment were they provided. We have planted dozens of trees on our farm to create windbreaks and in areas where haying is impossible. We have avoided weed killers, have woods on three sides of us, but see the effect of some of the non native invaders both vegetative and insects that wipe out entire species of trees. Years ago, these mountains were covered with Chestnut trees, all killed off by blight. All of the mature Hemlocks die off from the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. Now the Ash trees are dying because of Emerald Ash borer. We are invaded by Tree of Heaven and Autumn Olive, plants that were introduced as ornamentals that have become invasive. As we drive up the mountain we see several areas that have been logged and I recognize the value of the timber but also the destruction of habitat for native vegetation and wildlife.
To add to my mindfulness thought process of late, as I was returning home from taking Son 1 to the bus Sunday morning, I listened to a program on NPR where the speaker discussed how we couldn’t provide for others if we didn’t take care of ourselves. We have to give ourselves permission to be kind to our own person to fill our cup enough to share. We need to be thankful for what we have, not want for what we lack, not complain about our ills, but be thankful for the health we have at whatever level.
These books and this program have reminded me to be more mindful. I suggest we should all be.