Back to Nature (Published on - Sept. 27, 2006)
Where do we begin and end?
Artwork by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
All living things are our children. The wolf running free at dawn, the fox dancing in the moonlight.
Think of the ripple effect – how a stone thrown into a pond creates increasingly larger circles. Where do we begin and end? Where does my body’s space end?

How do I affect those around me and then they affect those around them and so on like ripples in a pond to the speed of a running stream to water falls and raging rivers and waves upon oceans. Where did the first rain drop fall and when?

Are you my village, my tribe, my family? And if you aren’t who is? Is this ground you walk upon for you to take care of or is this earth here to take care of you and if you aren’t here for this earth will it survive to raise your children? If we aren’t here for each other, do we survive as a species, a village, a family?

Sometimes it seems as if the world around us moves in slow motion, that for a moment we are able to see everything like a slide show and in this brief glimpse of reality the world appears surreal. If one river dies and takes its disease to an ocean, does it matter? Who’s at fault? If one single candy wrapper or one single cigarette butt is ingested by an endangered sea turtle, does it matter? Who’s at fault?

If one hill falls for urban sprawl and a mountain still stands, if one ice cap melts and one glacier recedes just a foot or two, if one ozone hole opens as another closes, who’s at fault? If no one is at fault then who will save us? Will you be the one to sit in your easy chair and fire up the computer or turn on the Price is Right and close your eyes to the world around you? If it does not start with you, who will step up to the plate?

The trees over our heads give us shade, as clear water quenches our thirst, as the red clay brings about delicate pots and those tall thin trees make fine, straight lodge poles, as grandfather’s sassafras makes healing tea and grandmother’s sage carries our prayers.

Where do you begin and I end? All living things are our children. The rose lichen upon the tree trunk, the resurrection ferns, the tiny white mushroom nestled in leaf litter, the dew-dappled spider web, the wolf running free at dawn, the fox dancing in moonlight, the mother bear sleeping in her den, the palomino remembering something pre-coded within her DNA about a freedom.

Does one life not connect to another and does one life lost not leave an empty space that can never be filled? Are we ready to take on responsibility for our own actions?

Actor, director and conservationist Robert Redford, a crusader for Kick the Oil Habit, “I believe America is finally ready to kick the oil habit and launch a new movement for real solutions and a better future. The Arctic Refuge represents everything spectacular and everything endangered about America’s natural heritage. It embodies a million years of ecological serenity ... a vast stretch of pristine wilderness ... an irreplaceable birthing ground for polar bears, caribou and white wolves.”

A letter has been circulating on the Internet authored by Robert Redford: “Our goal: To reach into homes across America over the next two weeks, so that when the make-or-break vote comes after Labor Day, we can spring into action one million strong and defeat Big Oil’s agenda. We’ve got no time to lose.”

“It (the Arctic Refuge) is the greatest living reminder that conserving nature in its wild state is a core American value. It stands for every remnant of wilderness that we, as a people, have wisely chosen to protect from the relentless march of bulldozers, chain saws and oil rigs.

“And that’s why the Bush administration is dead set on destroying it.

“By unlocking the Arctic Refuge, they hope to open the door for oil, gas and coal giants to invade our last and best wild places: Our western canyonlands, our ancient forests, our coastal waters, even our national monuments.”

We are urged to edit and/or send a letter or e-mail in our own words to our senators and representatives in show of support for Kick the Oil Habit:

“Please go to and tell your senators and representative they have no mandate to destroy the Arctic Refuge.”

Throughout the world, ancient forests and wildlife are in crisis. Almost 25 percent of the world’s mammals and 12 percent of its birds are now on the edge of extinction. If forest destruction continues as it is now one half of the species living in the forests of the world will disappear by the middle of this century. How will this affect you? Whose air will you breathe and share? Who’s responsible? You? Me? Where do we begin and end?

I’m worried. I’m worried that in this litigious world that we aren’t taking care of each other. I’m worried that we aren’t taking care of our planet, our skies, our resources, life, our children. Hold on until you hear the hushed voices of the next generation. How can they become our future if we leave them with no choices, no options?

Are we praying for angels? Are we waiting for miracles?

I’m afraid. Sending up smoke signals. Fanning the hot stones from the fire with cedar branches. Calling all angels ... back to nature.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.” – Mark Twain

Karen can be reached at

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