Crazy about Nature

God’s Grandeur

THE world is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod ?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs÷

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Gerard Manly Hopkins

If I had lived nearly a hundred years ago, I might have shared Hopkin’s faith that "nature is never spent," but I live in the 20th century and it is getting harder and harder to believe that. But even if I can’t share this faith, this is one of my (many) favorite poems for it captures the grandeur I sense when I hike high in the mountain wilderness far away from man’s clear cuts and the slurbs that cover the flatlands below.

Indeed, I am foolishly passionate about nature, and about saving what is left of it while there is still time. My own children used to refer to me as a "granola," and years ago people used to scoff at my attempts to go without garbage service and recycle everything possible. Didn’t bother me a bit. It was true. I am a fool for nature.

I spend most of my summer high in the mountains, and, I must admit, look down a little on the flatlanders when I return, especially those who pull ten feet off the highway to admire "nature" while diesel trucks roar by on nearby freeways polluting the air.

Except for the part of my yard I reserve for my organic garden, I have attempted to recreate the local woods in my shade garden by using native local plants and following ideas I have discovered in our local Japanese Garden. I even refuse to drive out the garter snakes that have found my compost pile so inviting, though the little bastards still scare the hell out of me.

Though I have chosen to live frugally, I have still managed to contribute to The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club , Greenpeace , and local conservation organizations for nearly thirty years.

I decided not to contribute to the local chapter of Earth First when young members threw words like "anarchy" around rather loosely ("anarchy" is not a word I take lightly after teaching high school English), but I still have been known to cheer on some of their illegal activities to halt logging in old-growth areas. I’m not tying myself to a treetop, but I’m proud to see them do so.

When you’ve already given up over 90% of the old-growth trees, compromise seems to leave a bad taste in my mouth. How will we compromise when there is only one old-growth tree left? They’ll leave us the limbs?