Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tree Hugger

I once had a boss who referred to certain folks as "tree huggers". He made it quite clear by his sniggering and mannerisms that these people were just annoying kooks and nuts. Subversives or anarchists, whose sole purpose was to act as an impediment to progress and all things sensible and rational. His tone was condescending, his remarks defamatory and slanderous. It seemed to him that anyone who tried to defend and perserve nature at the expense of raising a new building or parking lot or public convenience, was just acting as a contrarian. These whack-jobs had nothing better to do with their insipid and empty lives, so they joined some silly cause without full understanding of what they were defending or what was really at stake. These people were laughable, fools who were nothing more than the chaff of life.

It is possible that I once felt this way too. It seems like an attitude that I might have had at one point in time, many years ago. However, my present approach is more aligned with trying to honor nature. Over the years I have come to better appreciate the beauty and wonder and majesty of the fields of wildflowers, the ranging forests and undeveloped areas, and also the creatures and critters that make these expanses their homes. This all kind of hit home recently when I arrived at work and was surprised to find a contingent of heavy machinery clearing out sizeable tracts of trees from our surrounding forest. Our trees have long created a buffer zone that isolates us from the harsh urban sprawl that is everywhere in the area that I live. I drove up to see a flatbed truck fully loaded with freshly cut tree trunks. Each tree was several feet in diameter with more growth rings than I could count. I thought about how long these gifts of nature had been around, how much they had lived through and witnessed, and how quickly and unceremoniously they were torn from the ground and reduced to something else. Something unnatural. Further adding to the scene, I could hear the crew of workmen off in the distance continuing their work of decimation. Those sounds of ripping and tearing, of pure destruction still echo in my mind.

I know that soon my eyes and my mind will adjust to the new surroundings. Soon the new building will be present, with its plantings and landscaping, and its symbolism of progress. However, I will not forget what was there before. In fact, you can count me in the category of unashamed tree hugger. I see nothing wrong, nothing weak, nothing insipid about preserving nature where we can and making this a priority as we move ahead.