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Tiny Steps


May 12, 2014 - The Daily Climate features an article by Al Kesselheim today.  Kesselheim writes about the need for Americans to notice the beauty of nature in their own backyards, rather than expecting to encounter nature only when they visit a state or national park.  Actually, Kesselheim writes about wilderness; I will, too, but on a very small scale.

For many Americans, what Kesselheim advises is a bland prospect, at best.  First-time homeowners many times own just enough yard to mow, a miniature imitation pasture of sorts that has been scraped off and graded.  Those lucky enough to own property that has been tended and loved (or, better yet, neglected!) probably would find a great deal going on in their private outdoors that would be worth noticing.  What so many of us lack is the time it would take to do so.

The bugs and the birds are, nevertheless, right there under ignorant and knowledgeable noses alike.  What if you were to decide that your own natural paradise consisted of the square yard of lawn nearest your back door?  Let’s say – you devil, you! – you’ve decided to let it “go wild.”  No mowing allowed.  Gadzooks, you could even up the ante: no chemicals, either.  The rain would rain, the breeze would blow, the days would follow one after the other, just like always.

What do you suppose would be the first thing you would notice?  How pretty the long grass looks as it waves in the wind?  The fact that a Cooper’s Hawk now occupies a mature tree in your neighbor’s yard, expecting a mouse or chipmunk to exit the newly created “wilderness?”  How about the butterflies stopping by to enjoy the wildflowers that have shown up, seemingly out of nowhere?

One day it dawns on you that you’ve been getting up a few minutes earlier in the morning so you’ll have time to observe what transpires out in the back 40 (ho ho).  That you’ve been scrawling the occasional note on random pieces of paper.  That your spouse now takes an interest, and your children surprise you when they mention having told their teachers about Daddy’s Wilderness Project.  One of them commented that Daddy’s project had science fair written all over it!

Being interested in and caring about the outdoors is exactly as far away as your back door.  All it takes is a modest amount of personal involvement.  After that, sit back and see where it takes you.  Find out what interests you most.  What you will discover after awhile is that it’s all pretty interesting, all quite beautiful, and that the world absolutely would be a sadder, poorer place without the outdoors.

Ready to take that first step?

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