Have you ever noticed… people tend to avoid listening to the stories of extreme depravity or premeditated violence, but love it to be the subject of their “entertainment”? As much as we are drawn, like moths to a collective flame, to the intrigue and suspense, the actual fact is abhorrent to us. We actually have a sort of filter, suspending outrage while receiving sound bites, until we have understood the jest of it, then, before even listening to the paltry story entirely, we lose the end as the blood rushes to our ears. Living through life with this “surf” ringing in our ears. The cacophony of ideas and images that epitomizes our mediated existence deafens us as much as increases our awareness.
Over a million trees got disease this year, millions more succumbed to fire, millions more are threatened by the ever drying affects of warmer air and the ravages of more intense extremes of heat and cold, wet and dry and the increasingly common occurrence of record setting weather. ECO-Tours seeks to partially ameliorate the loss of trees by planting native trees across northeast Wisconsin. We have averaged over ten thousand trees per year since incorporating as a not-for-profit. Our beginnings were humble, a dozen or two friends who hiked and planted along their way, guerrilla gardeners before we had that name. It took over twenty years to plant the first sixty thousand trees and so, since organizing, we have nearly tripled our effectiveness.
We are starting a new web site that will reflect not only our perspective, but our direction, our challenges and our victories. We have always had the domain name, ecotoursofwisconsin.org, but we are now on a different host server, so finding us for the next week or so might be a challenge. In our work, we try to decipher the great mystery, unlocking precious bits of wisdom along the way. Our ecotours do the same thing in real time and in spaces that we are transforming as we pass through them. Much like life itself, we want to express what it is to be, not necessarily a discreet organism, but a part of a greater whole. Instead of bringing our own baggage, dogma and attitudes to the landscape, we tune into those spaces and allow the land to dictate our actions.
We plant trees appropriate to each site we visit, hearing the subtle messages that emanate from the land itself. Frequently, we find that our hearing has been damaged by the modern world and the time spent away from the Earth. A great friend and guide that passed the veil recently was noted for saying that the greatest separation between humankind and nature was when the hearth was no longer the focus of the home. The estrangement that took place by sequestering fire in a tiny box in the basement was the death knell for the family.
Even knowing this, and trying to reestablish the rituals of family, has not made it any easier. The glow of my computer screen is a sad and cool replacement of the fires that warmed our ancestor’s spirits as well as their bodies. Before the cold weather sets in, try to make time for sitting around a fire. you may be surprised where it will lead, I always am. when the world and the messages that we receive from all around it get to be too much, rather than blocking it out, or going deaf with the cacophony, just sit quietly by a fire and you will hear the crackle of the ages, feel the warmth of the sun, captured by a million tree leaves, and rejoice in the voices that guided our elders for millennia before we were but twinkles in our parent’s eyes.