Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pillows and Sheets Will Do Just Fine, Thanks.

Hi everyone!
It's Monday, and it's also Green Sugar Press' blog's day for news.
We start off this week on an intriguing note: in my old haunts of northern Manhattan island in New York City, there lies a best-kept secret: Inwood Hill Park, home to Manhattan's only remaining old-growth forest. It's a special place where eagles have been reared, and it's rumored to be the spot where the Dutch purchased Manhattan Island from the local Indians. It was also one of your Miss' favorite places to run, there among the lush greenery and the old lamp posts and ghosts of history past.
This weekend, though, seventeen trees were cut down by either axe or machete. It's a terrifically sad story, but part of me just can't get past one line in a brief New York Times story this Sunday: the trees may have been cut down by kids looking to find wood to build forts with, or people looking to improve the views from their condos to the Hudson River.

This is the view from Inwood Hill Park. Didn't think you were still in New York, did you?

This makes your Miss very, very sad. First, since when are trees a lousy view? And second, well, second...well, I only ever built forts out of chairs and pillows.
This might because I grew up in the suburbs. But I think it's more because I grew up very, very lucky, with great people around me who knew the value of a good romp in the woods.
When I was in first grade, for instance, I had an extraordinary teacher. We did a lot with nature. We made leaf rubbings, and earrings out of fallen pine cones for our mothers. We took walks through the woods behind our school, and learned about the way that plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. The thing is, though, I don't recall these small forays into the outdoors as being classtime. I just remember them as being flat-out fun, except for the day I got my first bee sting, and even then I couldn't stop marveling at the way a small creature to make me feel such agony.
From that year on, I never could see nature as anything other than a living, breathing entity.
The New York City Parks Department is especially diligent about Inwood Hill Park, for obvious reasons. They work really hard to replant trees that have fallen due to natural or unnatural causes. This March, they have their work cut out for them.
Our work, too, is cut out for us. It's our job to take the next generation outside, let them see nature as a playmate, something to be treasured.
This week is going to be the warmest of the year for those of us living in Chicago. It's going to hit the mid-60s, and it's a perfect time a peek out of the windows, to watch things growing and breathing.
Whatever you do, be sure to tell someone else about it. Maybe they'll be able to see trees as more than raw material for a fort, or, oh, OH--maybe they'll get to see forest AND the trees.

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