Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.
A few days ago, someone I hadn’t seen in awhile asked me if I had razed the little forest in front of my house and finished an extensive permaculture layout I had designed last winter. I was pleased to say I hadn’t.
It’s true that the spaces we live in have to work for us, inside and out. That said, careful consideration of what exists, especially when it comes to nature, is essential. I am glad to have realized this before I tore down the beautiful 50 year old forest right in my own front yard, so I could have better light and more room to grow vegetables.
It’s true that even trees have life spans, and sometimes, as was the case with our pin-cherry tree that had black knot fungus, we must remove them. But what of the rest? Other than the bizarre ornamental pond (we live in arid Calgary) that we filled in, I have pruned a bit and left it. And here’s why: that little forest, which is part of the much larger forest our community is lucky enough to live in, is alive. The trees and shrubs and flowers are all connected in a similar way to us. If a member is sick, they try to help it back to health. If another member is removed, the group is weakened, they all suffer. The birds nest and forage there, especially in the winter. Because in the dead of winter, as always, this space is vital.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to take in what this space in front of our house is. To be fair to my vegetable growing mind, with southwestern exposure, it is the most “suitable” place on our property to grow food. But I was so entranced with a created vision, I couldn’t see what was right before me. I literally couldn’t see the forest for the trees. How often do we miss things of extreme significance because we are so attached to something we have constructed for one reason or another? What could happen if we were all able to connect and listen to Earth’s forests?