Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

The Life Behind Greeting Card Beauty

Nature is merely the window dressing of life for many people. They have more pressing concerns. When they’re given advice to spend more time outdoors, their perspective doesn’t necessarily change. They jog or bike or go on drives, admiring the scenery without getting involved.

I’m not a scenery-watcher. In fact, I don’t want to merely observe but to participate. I want to feel my kinship with the outdoors. Even though my husband and I cut our Christmas tree from the many pines on our property that crowd too closely against their neighbors, I always feel guilty afterward. The Department of Agriculture told us to bulldoze most of our trees to return the land to its more barren past. They might as well have asked us to sell our dogs.

This past week I encountered a couple of nature stories that disturbed me. For me, this time of year is an opportunity to care out loud. During the holidays we’re supposed to be sentimental. The first article that took me out of my good-will stupor appeared in the New York Times and detailed the alarming disappearance of our global insect population. No, I hadn’t missed the thick greenish-yellow smear of bugs that used to force me to scrub my windshield in the summer. And I can’t say I’d be sad to lose the little black gnats that bite visitors who linger too long on our deck. But I never wished nearly all insects EVERYWHERE were dead.

I started to consider what a loss of insects would mean. Living in nature as I do, I know full well how we depend on insects to dispose of carcasses and waste and to feed birds and fish. Farmers who have to hire humans to pollinate crops are forced to charge much more for their produce. Entomologists could tell you many other functions our buzzing neighbors perform for us—some of which we need very badly, although we don’t notice. Theories contend insecticides, herbicides, and climate change are at fault for the decline. In other words, us.

Then yesterday I caught a TV run of the movie INFERNO with Tom Hanks. The Dan Brown tale centers around a plot to kill a huge percentage of the world’s human overpopulation to help prevent or at least mitigate what is called the sixth extinction—the sixth time in known history the Earth has been cleansed of the majority of its species. Unfortunately, the sixth extinction isn’t fiction. Many scientists can demonstrate research that indicates an extinction extraordinary for its speed and breadth has already begun. Again, too many selfish humans must take their portion of the responsibility.

As I appreciate the winter scenes or wild creatures that often appear on Christmas cards, I have to wonder how long we’ll have the luxury of pretending our future world will look like Currier and Ives drawings. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves as stewards of our Earth is to invest time and effort into preserving it or at least doing what we can to lessen the damage to the lives we hold dear. Even when we’re being sentimental, we honor ourselves when we honor the truth.

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