Monday, November 17, 2008

Bittersweet Progress

I received the following story in an email from a cherished friend and heart sister this morning. She and her nine year old son, Bo, had taken a walk in the woods near their home, woods they both love. Her story touched me deeply. I have tasted bittersweet progress and know that Cherie is right - sometimes you can't go back.

Thanks, Cherie, for allowing me to share your poignant words with my readers. May your tiny seed of life grow tall and strong and safe.

Many things in life are bittersweet, but one of the hardest for me is the loss of the wild places. Urban sprawl fueled by greed is quickly shrinking them in the name of progress.

Bo and I decided to take a walk in the woods behind our house yesterday. We made our way behind into the woods and onto a small path made by cows in another time. The sun came through the canopy of reds and yellows, its rays dancing off of the leaves and lighting up the leaf strewn floor of the forest in a magical way.

After walking for a few minutes, we started to see signs that people had recently been though the woods. There were blue ribbons tied around trees; other, smaller trees had been hewn down with a machete or small axe. Then we came to a clearing.

We could see that earth movers had widened the path, uprooting and mowing down everything along the way. We followed the path to a clearing. What was once a lush meadow now contained a tractor trailer loaded down with cut trees. We skirted the rig and continued along the path, now a wide swath of devastation running through the woods. We followed the path upwards, and as we crested a hill, stared in horror at the scene in front of us. Acres of wood had been cleared of all vegetation. What remained was dry clay and rock.

“I want to go back” Bo said, sadly. His words hit me like a thunderbolt: sometimes you can’t go back.

We turned around and walked back into the woods. We lingered there for a while, capturing as many trees as we could on film. We passed a young maple, whose leaves seemed afire with glorious bright red. “Come closer” she seemed to whisper. I made my way through the underbrush towards the tree. As I adjusted the lens of my camera to capture her brilliance, I saw something I had never seen before. Hanging from her branches were bright green spiky seed pods, the kind that turn brown and children throw at each other during recess.

Before we left, I plucked one seed pod. “Thank you” she whispered.

When we got home, we planted a seed pod. We will watch it grow and tend it in honor of what was, and what is.

Life continues.


  1. Your blog captured my heart. The song of the maple echoed the lonely and "derelict" dogwood which just breathed its last at our house. We managed to save a rooting, so her progeny are assured.

    Thank you from all of us who dance in the moonlight or traipse in the bower of our Mother.

  2. Thank you for your comments, Kat...and may your little dogwood grow strong and honor her mother. I passed your comments along to Cherie. Please come back soon!

  3. "We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." We are raising a generation that is plugged into media sources and disconnected from nature. Thank you for taking a young man into the woods. Seeing the contrast of nature recovering and the rape of the earth may shape his decisions later in life.


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