By Jan Martin on 7/5/2010 7:45 AM

At the beginning of our tour at the Tree of Life Nursery, I couldn't help but notice all the birds, bees, and lizards engaging in their morning activities. I didn't mean to interrupt, but I must have been a little too excited as I pointed to a very large lizard doing push-ups beneath the Lester Rowntree Manzanita. To my delight, Mike Evans took that opportunity to tell the group about the wildlife that will "appear" in your garden when you plant California natives. He said "I don't know how they key-in to gardens with natives, but if you plant them, they will come". Indeed, while standing in line at the check-out counter I saw a small frog hop across a table and hide under a plant container.

This morning I was reading through a bunch of Facebook posts and was drawn to an article written by Chris Hedges. In the article, he writes

"Defy nature and it obliterates the human species. The more we divorce ourselves from nature, the more we permit the natural world to be exploited and polluted by corporations for profit, the more estranged we become from the essence of life. Corporate systems, which grow our food and ship it across country in trucks, which drill deep into the ocean to extract diminishing fossil fuels and send container ships to bring us piles of electronics and cloths from China, have created fragile, unsustainable man-made infrastructures that will collapse. Corporations have, at the same time, destroyed sustainable local communities. We do not know how to grow our own food. We do not know how to make our own clothes. We are helpless appendages of the corporate state. We are fooled by virtual mirages into mistaking the busy, corporate hives of human activity and the salacious images and gossip that clog our minds as real. The natural world, the real world, on which our life depends, is walled off from view as it is systematically slaughtered. The oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is one assault. There are thousands more, including the coal-burning power plants dumping gases into our atmosphere that are largely unseen. Left unchecked, this arrogant defiance of nature will kill us."

This wasn't an epiphany for me, but on reading the article I realized that my desire to plant my own veggetables and convert the backyard to native plantings stems from my despair over all the conflict in the world;  I'm trying to find some peace.

In the article, Chris also quotes a poem by Wendell Berry, titled "The Peace of Wild Things".

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things" from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998.

The poem sums up my feelings, and reading it actually did cause an epiphany. Whether working with animals, as I have, or working with plants, I feel a sense of peace and gratitude that I don't find in other activities. My personal conflict arises when I feel pressured to make a profit or to compete to be that "helpless appendage of the corporate state".

My goal is to create a sanctuary for my mind and body that will allow me to "rest in the grace of the world" in my own backyard.

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