Tag Archives: conservation

Rainbow Walkers Trail Guide

I have long been a Rainbow Walker–a person who consciously decides to live in a way to honor all of life. I welcome those who walk the Rainbow Trail with me. These entries are to help us gauge our actions with the proper perspective. May these words help you along your journey on Mother Earth.

ancestor spirit

Ancestor Spirit is watching us. Do we have cause to be embarrassed?

shoreline crescent city enhanced photo

If we wish to see the Web of Life, we must first become blind to ourselves.

rainbow walkers

When you cross the Bridge to the Other Side, how will you justify your life?

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The Seventh Generation

Among the trees

As Labor Day and the celebration of the workings person’s achievements end, we need to recognize an even greater achievement of the everyday person: the legacy of our world to the children of the seventh generation yet to come. Whether that achievement becomes a positive or a negative is yet to be determined.

Among the ‘Haudenosaunee’–the Native Americans of the Mohawk, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, the Senecas and the Tuscarora–called the Six Nations by the English and called the Iroquois by the French, is a teaching from The Peacemaker, their spiritual teacher from around a thousand years ago. This teaching says: ‘When you sit and you council for the welfare of the people, think not of yourself nor of your family nor even your generation. Make your decisions on behalf of the seventh generation coming….’ (Listen to the entire speech by Oren Lyons, Chief and Faith Keeper, Onondago Nation, from which this quote is taken at https://nnidatabase.org/video/oren-lyons-looking-toward-seventh-generation )

If we heed the words of The Peacemaker, we need to assess every action we take against how it will affect those children yet to be born in approximately 140 years (if each generation is born when the mother is 20 years old). One of the issues that we need to view critically is how we are safeguarding, or not safeguarding, the natural world.

Let’s look at the production of oxygen. According to Luis Villazon, a mature sycamore tree is roughly 12 m tall (one meter equals 3.2 feet) and weighs around two tons, including roots. Seven to eight mature trees are required to produce enough oxygen for one person for one year. (see entire article at http://www.sciencefocus.com/qa/how-many-trees-are-needed-provide-enough-oxygen-one-person )

Environment Canada, Canada’s national environmental agency says that “On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature (emphasis is mine) trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.” There are “millions of trees” in the world; surely we have plenty of trees to produce enough oxygen for everyone? Unfortunately, we need to factor in the reality there are 6 billion people on earth—give or take a billion. According to some estimates, only around 700 trees can be grown per acre. And, that is only if the land is healthy enough, if there is sufficient rainfall, and if pollution does not negatively impact the growth/health of those trees.

But production of oxygen is only one part of the equation. Water is another critical part. “A large redwood tree—a 200 foot redwood with a trunk 5 feet in diameter—holds 34,000 pounds of water and transpires (gives off water vapor) up to 200-500 gallons of water each day.” (see entire article at http://www.shannontech.com/ParkVision/Redwood/Redwood2.html ) A mature oak absorbs around 50 gallons of water in a day. Without mature trees the amount of water absorbed and then transpired is greatly lessened. This results in damaging runoffs during rainy seasons and in less water available over a dry period.

Whether we believe that life originates from the primordial ooze and has evolved over millions of years or if we believe that Creator created all of life, what we cannot escape is that all life is intrinsically linked.

Creators wild flower

We are bound to all of life–the plants and animals, the birds and insects, the reptiles and the fish–either due to dependencies that we have yet to discover because we evolved, not in a vacuum but with the rest of life, or we are bound together because we all belong to the same Great Tapestry of which we can only see a very small portion. Consequently, every time we destroy, or stand aside and allow others to destroy, a part of the natural world we are forever negatively impacting the quality of life not only for ourselves, but for those who are yet unborn. What type of world will we leave those of the seventh generation?

But why is a mystery writer, a writer of novels, talking about responsibilities to the seventh generation; about the science behind the production of oxygen and of water?

I am an optimist. It is one of the great motivations behind my writing. I believe that people can change, can grow, can become more than what they are. People can reach heights of compassion and generosity; of concern and of care beyond anything ever seen before.

I am an optimist. I believe we can change not only our own destiny, but the destiny of the world. I believe that if we choose, we can leave our world a better place, a more beautiful place, a more just place, a more compassionate place than the one in which we were born. This optimism is the message underlying all of my work. This optimism fuels every book I write. Every blog I write. Every sentence I write.

But all the optimism in the world cannot change a dead earth. An earth without oxygen. An earth without water. An earth without the beauty of the birds and the animals. All the optimism in the world cannot bring back those dozens of species that are becoming extinct nearly every day. And even an author cannot survive on a dead world.

But, I am an optimist. I speak about these harsh facts because I believe we can change the growing darkness on the horizon. I believe we can overcome that darkness with light, with hope, with a new reality. That optimism, that belief in the ability of people to change for the better, is why I write.

Journey you make
What kind of footprints will you leave behind?

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LESSONS LEARNED

DSC09967 White Horse Mountain, Cascade Mountains, Darrington, Washington

Lessons Learned (The Observations of a Wildlife Habitat Manager)

Other than #author, I have several hats that I wear. Among them is the Wildlife Habitat Manager Hat. Habitat is NOT a sanctuary. It is a place where wildlife and wild birds can arrive and depart as they please. Habitat offers the wild ones food (in the form of plants, trees and the resultant insects), water (sometimes in the form of water dishes if the natural water source dries up), and shelter/nesting areas (in the form of bushes, trees, tall grass areas, undergrowth and deliberately maintained ‘slash piles’ of natural plants including tree limbs), and, hopefully, a measure of safety from domestic predators such as cats and dogs.

In 1996, my wife and I bought twelve acres of abused farmland. When I label the land abused what I mean is that the fields had been overgrazed, invasive weeds such as non-native blackberry bushes and morning glories had taken over approximately eleven acres of the land, garbage had been dumped on the creek banks and piled in a variety of other places (all of which we discovered as we took down the invasive blackberry brambles); old cars, farm equipment, freezers–complete with the rotted carcasses and hides of deer, bear and other wildlife– and other appliances also hid beneath the blackberry brambles; and, sadly, we also uncovered the skeletons and other remains of animals and birds killed for the sake of killing and left to rot where they lay.

When we first moved here, no birds flew over the property. It reminded me of the silent spring that Rachel Carson evoked with the title of her important book. Not until our medicine man came and blessed the land did the birds return. The first bird in was the tiny Rufous Hummingbird.

Since that time, we have cataloged sixty-eight different species of birds who visit our land, usually staying to shelter and/or nest. We have had a variety of wildlife, including a family of deer who frequently have their fawns in our back field and coyotes who sing their mournful songs to the dark of night.

But, the journey has not been without it setbacks and detours. So here are a few of the lessons learned by this wildlife habitat manager:

—When calculating the amount of time a rehab project might take, add in one-half again of what you think (ie: 40 hours would become 60 hours). This will allow for delays, surprises and just days when you want to play instead of work.

—Be aggressive with invasive plants! Whether the plants are Euro-Asian blackberries, morning glories, scotch broom or English daisies, begin a program of spray-mow-spray immediately. For the sake of the wild ones, try to use eco-friendly herbicides such as Round-Up. It you really need more toxic herbicides, such as some of the caustics, try to spot spray and limit the amount of the chemical used as well as the amount of land it is applied to.

—Not everything the experts tell you to try will work. For several winters, I fought a losing battle with snow tearing the gutters off of the barn. We tried a number of different remedies, including snowjacks that are in use in places like Alaska. The problem with our snow is that it accumulates, partially melts, refreezes and accumulates some more making most types of snowjacks not very efficient and often the victim of the snow pack along with the gutters. The way we resolved our issue was with four foot deep trenches around our barn under the roofline. We filled the trenches with two different sizes of rock/gravel and with French drain then created a ditch that leads to a depression where the water can slowly dissipate. It works, for us. Don’t be afraid to try out your own ideas.

—Try different plants in different areas! You may be surprised that what will grow in one place, won’t flourish in another place that appears to be the exact same type of ground, sunlight and moisture.

—When visiting nurseries, ignore most of the statements like “Oh, no, this is not invasive”; “no, you won’t have any problem with this spreading where you don’t want it” and similar statements. Many of the current invasives that we battle daily were brought here deliberately by other people, including the scourges of farmland and wildlife habitat–English daisies and scotch broom! No one thought these “pretty flowers” would become noxious weeds. We can eradicate invasive plants. Be consistent and persistent!

Try to use plants that are native/indigenous to your area. (Our neighbor planted a black walnut tree and now we have bunches of baby black walnut trees sprouting up everywhere). Think twice about eradicating what your neighbors may term ‘weeds’ if that plant is indigenous, such as salmonberry bushes and Indian plum bushes. Many times the wildlife/wild birds that are native to your area really need these plants (sometimes, the very ones your neighbors labor weeds)! Both salmonberry and Indian plum are early spring flowering plants that provide much needed nectar for the hummingbirds who arrive before other trees and bushes set their blossoms.

DSC01752 Patch of Thimbleberry bushes (Pacific Northwest native plant; edible by humans, birds and wildlife. A tasty red berry on a thornless bramble.)

Salmonberry bushes are much more sensitive (especially to herbicides) than many people believe and can be controlled (kept to one area) by mowing the young starts that sprout through rhizome propagation. As well as providing nectar, these delicate blossoms are a lovely relief from the barrenness of winter. According to my adoptive mother, Vi taqseblu Hilbert, who was an Upper Skagit elder, new shoots were once eaten by #NativeAmericans much like asparagus. The berries are red or gold colored and delicious for people, birds or other wildlife. salmonberry bloom Salmonberry blossom (Pacific Northwest native plant)

—Be gentle with yourself! This was a very important lesson for me. I tend to demand not only perfection of myself, but perfection as of yesterday! No matter how dedicated and hardworking you are, take time to stop and just walk the land, enjoy all that you have accomplished. Be sure to take ‘before’ photos you can refer to because many times we don’t see the progress we are making. Sort of like being in a dense forest–rather difficult to see the whole tree.

—Remember, even though one person can’t save the entire planet; we can’t even save the entire species–whatever the species–we can make a difference one person at a time; one small piece of land at a time. So, whether you have a small backyard or a hundred acres, what you do matters. When you provide food, water and shelter for two birds that gives that bird species one more place to rest, to eat and grow strong, and to bring young into this world to bless all of us. And, each time one of us provides habitat for the wild ones, we demonstrate to our neighbors and friends that it can be done without sacrificing the use and enjoyment of our property. We can make a difference; and, we can make this world a tiny bit better for us having been here.

We are saving, preserving and increasing beauty each day.

JUNE 2015 144 Oregon Grape (Pacific Northwest native plant; berries are edible by humans, birds and wildlife)

 

To see photos of the author’s land, go to Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar) and view Jaz Wheeler’s farm. My character in Run or Die has much the same kind of place as we do. Funny how that works!

 

 

 

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AN UNEXPECTED HONOR

The Lighthouse Award

I’d like to thank #AllisonBruning at  http://www.allisonbruning.blogspot.com for nominating me for The Lighthouse Award. Never heard of it, but love what it stands for: #bloggers who like to help people! It always feels so good to be recognized.

There are gifts given to every person. How we use those gifts determines what kind of human we become. Writing is one of my gifts. For me, writing is about helping others: it provides mental relaxation, adds to knowledge, highlights important issues, provides role models and most of all, gives us hope.

Another gift is my love for Mother Earth. In 1996, my wife and I purchased 12 acres of abused farmland that we named Wild Haven. What had once been forested wetlands had fifty or so years before been logged, the pathways of water changed and made into farmland. The farmland was then abused by overuse and negligence. By the time we bought it invasive weeds controlled eleven acres of the 12. Bodies of dead animals and birds lay scattered like discarded rubbish. The people that had owned it loved to kill, not to eat but to destroy. Not even a bird flew over the land until our medicine man came and cleansed it. The first bird to return was a hummingbird. Now we host 68 different species of birds over the course of a year’s time as well as a number of mammals such as coyote, fox, rabbit, possum, raccoon, deer, an occasional cougar, and a black bear who loves our fall apples. Three species of salmon now call our creek a pathway to spawning grounds. In 2001 the National Wildlife Federation certified our farm was Wildlife Habitat. In 2002, we have won a county award for Wildlife Farm of the Year. In 2003, we won the Washington State Award for #Wildlife Small Farm of the Year. #Conservation is the gift we give to the generations yet to come. What kind of world will we hand on?

Gnarly apple tree To see more photos of Wild Haven, go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar  Look at Jaz Wheeler’s Farm board.

The third gift I have been graced with is the ability to look at writing of others and see where I can suggest changes that will make it stronger, clearer. I don’t do the polish editing like my wonderful editor, Lee Hargroder Porche, but what I call developmental editing. I help clarify timelines, pick up on dialog that isn’t realistic and other details that can make an author’s work a bit more real.

The Lighthouse Award requires that a blogger:

• Display the Award Certificate on your blog.
• Write a post and link back to the blogger that nominated you.
• Inform your nominees of their award nominations.
• Share three ways that you like to help others.
• Nominate as many bloggers as you like.
When I think about all the people who #blog and who make helping others a large part of their lives, there are too many to list. But here are some that I nominate for The Lighthouse Award:
#RubyStandingDeer at http://www.rubystandingdeer.com  whose Native American series is a spiritual journey
#ErikaSzabo at  http://www.authorerikamszabo.com who tirelessly worked to bring to us the Read for Animals book and event
#WiseandWildWomen at http://wildandwisewomen.com whose entire goal is the uplifting of women
#JenWilliams at with http://myraysoflight.wordpress.com who constantly brings forth issues we need to consider
#JumbledWriter at  http://www.jumbledwriter.com whose blog and subjects are all about conversations that help people consider timely issues
Please visit these wonderful blogs. You’ll be glad that you did! Be sure to CLICK and FOLLOW so you don’t miss new posts!
To share in the conversations, join Aya on http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar
To check out Aya’s latest works go to http://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor
To see some really cool photos click over to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar
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