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The Perfect Answer

Earth Day 2015

Each morning I put on my rubber boots, worn out jacket, and go tend to our animals. Often I have to literally pry myself from the laptop having an online business, electronics swallow my life. I trot begrudgingly towards the shed with leftover scraps, but by the time I pass our Katsura tree, I forget about the computer.

At 100 yards away, I'm excited to see the animals. The Snow White in me loves the rush of the chicken running -- "Here comes the food!" I guess that’s still better than the weak appreciation of my teenagers. We don’t kill our chickens, by the way, just gather the eggs. My favorite one, Brownie, follows me around, she is the star of the Live Green t-shirts (her twin sister is no longer around). Leo, the head goat, values human company more than food and water. They are family.

I coerce the goats into the woods behind their area. The original deal with goats was like this:
“In exchange for love and affection (plus a bit of food) you are supposed to clean the blackberries invading our property”. Well, our small Pygora goats don't like “woodsy”. They climb their Mount Goatmore made of old stumps, they are happy to trim our lawn and flowers, but the forest they visit only if I accompany them. Mainly, I cut the blackberries myself and offer it to goats like a romantic bouquet.

 So off we go together towards the steep ravine with a small creek at the bottom. This part the loggers could not touch easily so the tall trees escaped the chainsaw. Ferns, salal, moss, scary looking Devils Club reign the area all the way to the stream. Goats don't like to go that far. The point where we stop is a huge stump of a long gone cedar that gave away its life to some meaningless 2x4s. It is my favorite place. I used to be sad looking at it. But over time, the magic of forest changed that. I started noticing that the cedar is not quite dead. From the very top of it sprung out a huge huckleberry bush with ferns at the base. Its branches spread in all directions like a green Medusa head but instead of a deadly stare, delightful tiny leaves brighten the sight. It is a live centerpiece in the middle of the forest. As I contemplate the scene, my body absorbs by osmosis the emanating beauty.

It’s different than my day to day rush. At the moments that seem too hard ­for me ­to bear, when the child has a hard time, when the world seems not fair enough, I silently mouth, "Why?” The answer is never routine or superficial. I can't hear the words but under the skin, the wisdom seeps in. I translate it in my heart and it sounds like, "Because it’s time.” And I receive a gift of calm. A gift of resilience borrowed from the process in front of me -- the morphing, dying, being reborn, always staying strong. No spoken words, just the message. That all serves a purpose-- nothing ever dies.

The forest in front of my eyes is in sync with everything around, peaceful and violent at once. Each action is perfectly self-adjusted and self-sufficient, not too long or short. It does not ask permission, does not give justification. It consumes what needs to be consumed, no more no less. It does not ask for extra resources, it does not need extra energy. Given time and freedom, it self-balances itself. It is a glimpse of eternity in the making.

P.S. Paul Gilding said, “We need to act like we only have one planet”. We are not saving nature, we are saving ourselves. Nature will balance itself and will continue on without us. 

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