The place we live bears scars. A trail was hacked through the forest, a building was demolished, our house was built over 18 noisy months.
Although it was a place of nature, that nature was damaged.
So it became our job to nurture it back to health, to be stewards of the land. We planted local trees, shrubs and perennials with the aim of restoring biodiversity.
It is working. Over the next couple of years, as the plants became established, we noticed more insects, birds and mammals. Those we had scared off with hammers and chainsaws returned, finding a place that felt like home.
I like to think the job of humans is to be a keystone species, playing a role that benefits other species. Consider us like beavers, which change the landscape by building dams, providing habitat to numerous plants and animals. An old-fashioned word I’m quite fond of is ‘husbandry’: the careful management of things.
The trouble is, Western humans have been the opposite of good stewards. Instead of nurturing, we destroy, seeing the rest of the world as a resource to be extracted. Granite becomes countertops, cedar becomes pergolas.
We think we’re getting rich, but we’re making our home poorer. On one level this doesn’t make practical, long-term sense when resources are finite and pollution is harmful; on another level, it’s unethical when we’re failing to show respect for those who share this land with us.
Noticing my role in the world changed me. It made me recognize my valuable place in the universe of things. Instead of feeling like an interloper, plonked here and making the best of the elements that surround me, I am instead an important part of those elements, doing my bit to make things better.
I need the world and the world needs me. Nature loves me and I love it back.