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'Earth become conscious'

Three small offerings

By Carolyn Pogue

Isabelle Klaiber is a delightful friend because she always surprises me. I love surprises. One day, at lunch with friends, Isabelle slipped a zinger of a story into the conversation.

“Last summer,” she began, “a few of us from the subdivision noticed that the trees in our park looked neglected; they needed pruning. We got our tools and went to work. We ended up with quite a pile of branches. I phoned the city, told them what we’d done and asked if they could pick up the cuttings.”

The next thing she knew, Isabelle was answering a phone call from the police. “They informed me that there was a $500.00 fine for damaging park property — for each of us.

“So, I just kept talking,” Isabelle said. “I said we were only trying to help; I said we’d done a great job, too. And he agreed. I told him how sorry I was that he hadn’t been with us because after we’d finished, I’d sung the Hallelujah Chorus at the top of my lungs.

“The officer laughed. And paused. Then he said, ‘You know, I have a couple of trees in my yard that need a trim. Would you have the time?'”

Photo by Carolyn Pogue
Photo by Carolyn Pogue

The little park near our home provides me with surprises, too. It’s a wild park and is one reason that we wanted to live on our street. This summer, I encountered one surprise that was not a delight: an alarming accumulation of litter near a grand old poplar tree and some ruined saplings. I went to meet some of the people who have started using the park in the evenings (and who I suspected were littering). I briefly conversed before asking them to help me with the litter problem. I later hung a garbage bag in the tree for them; they used it. Today, I made a thank you sign and prepared a box of cookies for them.

In my concern about the park, I talked to neighbours I’d never met before. One surprise was that I met Carole Wardlaw, who, in 1974, lobbied the city to have the park protected from development. This designated “parkland” includes a poplar stand, meadow, a spring, myriad wildflowers, a flock of partridge, rabbits, mice, passing coyotes and deer. I felt I’d met a daughter of St. Francis of Assisi, and I suppose I had.

A further delight came to me last Sunday at the Mountain View Arts Festival in Didsbury, just north of Calgary. There, I met a man who told me that when he started farming, he broke the land with the plough. In the Dirty Thirties, he had watched the top soil blow away or build up along the fence lines. “In some places, there was just three or four inches of the fence posts showing,” he said. “And so we learned how to care for the land.” What was remarkable and wonderful to me was that he retrieved the soil that had blown against his fences and carefully returned it to the fields so it could receive seed.  I cannot imagine more back breaking, painstaking work.

Cosmologist Brian Swimme says that humans are “Earth become conscious.” I like to imagine that we are, and that our little human efforts to restore, compost, protect, clean and prune are expressions of that. In the near future, I will focus more writing here on others whose efforts — large and small — spin a web of protection for Earth.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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