It’s the end of May. At the time of this writing, five of the six monarch butterfly chrysalis spotted in the front yard have successfully transformed into butterflies and flew away.
Moments like these can shake and shake the mind. Fingers crossed, hope they are doing well on their journey. Whatever happens, it’s not luck, it’s a partnership. In everyday life, house and garden are a cooperative organism – a giver and a receiver. There is simple reassurance from mutual feedback from the place we call home.
Connecting with nature, at least for me, is not about politics, but about a source of wonder, appreciation and friendship. Science has classified humans as part of the animal kingdom; Our taxonomy lists us under the order Primates in the kingdom Animalia. True to the scientific world, don’t forget this detail. How we manage our homes as a species, the practices of thriving, move us through existence in a healthy or unhealthy place in the natural world. Everything points to empirical consequences.
Unlike other species, many of us think about gutters, garbage day, deadlines, bills to pay, gas prices, and grocery store runs. These demands distract from the truth that overall we are not the best at maintaining the larger flock, herd, or company. To each his own. Some of us appreciate animals but loathe conversation. Some of us enjoy our social life but don’t realize that a sparrow is singing outside the window at dawn. We are not a permanent species. Almost like we don’t live in the same world. But we can.
As I’ve gotten older, my reputation as a steward of nature has integrated as a way of life. Also, as a maker of herbal medicine, my role is mystical, as with all herbal medicines in history. This drug was known in every household before the age of commerce. Some Nature Whisperers are trained since childhood, others are initiated through deprivation and serious illness. When there’s nowhere else to turn, all that matters is the fresh air, the birds, the sun, the rain, the roses and trees. They bring us back to the center. They have healed me many times. Now I heal her.
At some point, talk of exoplanets or the desperate need to discover other habitable planets influenced my thoughts about home. “We’re so focused on finding a mirror image of Earth that we may be missing out on a planet even better suited for life,” said Dirk Schulz Mapuche, an astrobiologist at Washington State University and Technische Universität Berlin. Of course we could look for a reflection of the earth, it’s beautiful. This way of thinking expands my sense of commitment to the greatest and only home and garden we have: the earth.
A long, long time ago (and even today) a group of people studied the cosmos and the natural world. In their own brand of math and science, they organized chaos over large periods of time to find ways to make the unobservable observable. To capture the group consciousness, a calendar, the Cholq’iq, was presented with dreams of the day modified daily. It was a complicated calendar that a child as young as 13 could understand. Based on combinatorics, no two days were the same. The entire congregation followed the calendar. Fix the house one day, plant seeds another day, pay tribute to the jungle another day, help the sick another day. So many different aspects of life. A shared dream.
It is possible that times are changing. We pay more attention. Earth Day, Bee Day, Friendship Day, Siblings Day. It’s as if the western world is keeping up with the old Cholq’iq. These days appear in modern calendars around the world. These special days are just the thing for observing the unobservable. Someone around us will pay tribute and give us attention. These are days to possibly share the dream and support a larger situation than our individual selves. Days when when each of us pays attention, the whole benefits. Also the individual advantages.
Finally, when I examine my own life lessons as a naturalist and check my hypocrisy at the door, it takes time to see the intense beauty of our planet, our homes, our human families, and even our adversaries. It takes a lifetime to see the size of the beetle. It takes time to respect the willow scales swaying in the wind. It takes a while before we notice the gray heron perched on the neighbor’s roof as we prepare to leave for work. It takes time to trust a world that hasn’t dreamed together for a very long time.
It’s never too late to share the dream of the most important home and garden.