Archive for maccabee

Habitat Fragmentation and Land Ownership

Posted in Poems, Rhymes, Riddles, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2016 by Drogo

Essay for ON THE WILD SIDE January 2016

Our land is more valuable than your money. It was put here for us by the Great Spirit, so we cannot sell it because it does not belong to us. As a present to you we will give you anything we have that you can carry with you; but the land, never.”*

In this present time civilization humans are finding themselves in the midst of more than one environmental quagmire. How to get control of the plastic and junk in the ocean ? How to keep air clean enough to breath in China ? How to rid old pipes of poisonous lead and our water of pharmaceuticals waste which go into toilets ? Am I getting too personal ?

Actually, everything we do and have done in the past are exactly what professional scientists/ecologists are dealing with now. If there ever was a field in which our children will find ready employment, it will be as research problem solvers and maybe even politicians who care about cleaning up our messes. The question we all have is, however, how did we ever get to this point anyway, and what can we do about it as individual home owners, as people who care ?

To their credit, in 1621 the people native to America, the “Indians”, after prayerful consultations with their elders, dieing and weakened due to disease brought here by previous white explorers, and weary of warfare, decided it was in their best interest to make peace with the Pilgrims. In spite of the Mayflower crew robbing them of their seed corn and burial treasures, they made a pact together that would endure long enough to get squash, beans and that same stolen corn planted, harvested and then shared.**

Peace, for the natives, was the best and most productive remedy, even though strangers were encroaching on their land. Interesting…and perhaps something we can learn from during this present time of anxiety about refugees. Unfortunately, back then that fragile peace did not last very long. There will always be the good mixed with the bad, the greedy mixed with the philanthropists, and I assume this is how it will always be. Nothing seems to have changed since the beginning of time.

Of course, as years passed and more settlers arrived to colonize America, the natives were totally kicked off their land. The settlers had brought with them an entirely different ethic of land ownership from Europe, as well as military hardware far more effective than the natives hand crafted bows, arrows and spears. Over the centuries their precious land has been stolen, divided and subdivided…fragmented… sold, and some of it has sadly been misused and polluted.

I am fortunate to live in a sub-division of a beautiful old 200+ acre homestead here in the Catoctins, Due to my love of and concern for diversity in the natural world, I am allowing my 11+acres to not only feed me, but to feed all my other “relations”. The native idea of “other relations” extends far beyond human relatives and includes the wonderful diversity of flora and fauna which most of us care about…bees, butterflies, birds, wildflowers, trees. etc..These are things our children are learning to care about in school, and as wise elders, we should also.

As home owners, and landowners, we can begin to bring these various fragments of land together by allowing native plants to grown, by creating native wildflower gardens on part of our lawns, and planting native trees. That way, the habitat fragmentation which has been going on since the pilgrims settled at Plymouth Rock can be somewhat remedied. If you ever feel like giving up in despair, there is one very real thing you can do, and the opportunity is right in your own back yard, or front yard too (why not ).

The vision is to create a beautiful tapestry right here where we live of yards and properties dedicated to the health and well being of our earth. It already looks like a quilted pattern here in Thurmont, but the work is not yet finished. If anything, the work has just begun !

I belong to the Green Team here in Thurmont and am heading up a project along the rail road tracks which will not only beautify our town with wildflowers, but create habitat for wildlife. I am presently seeking volunteers to clean it up a bit in February and then spread seeds. All this must be done before March, as seeds need the time to stratify (to get the benefit of freezing weather), so as to enhance their germination.

If you are interested in helping me with this project, please do be in touch with me at songbirdschant@gmail.com. If not, then consider doing something on your own little fragment of land, no matter now small. As I always say, “Every little bit helps !”, and THANKS !

* Response of a Chief of the Blackfoot Nation when told to put his signature on a land treaty in Montana; from Touch The Earth by T.C. McLuhun

** as documented in Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

– Christine S. Maccabee

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Don’t Ever Tell Me

Posted in Poems, Rhymes, Riddles, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 21, 2016 by Drogo

 

Don’t ever tell me the past is past, it is over,

so move on, get over it, forget it;

for the ancient glacial rocks at my doorstep,

making walls and lining garden paths

would not be there were it not for the past and

neither would I in the form I presently exist .

There are ancient trees the world over,

like the Redwoods which stand yet

as monuments to past centuries of change

scars where branches fell,

and circles in their wood which tell their age

as well as years of drought and rain.

Don’t ever tell me the past is gone, so get over it,

for I feel as old as those trees, those rocks ;

My body with scars which speak of history and

my stories which you may hear if you listen.

Feelings too run just as deep as a trees rings do,

for my present is built upon my ancient past.

So don’t ever tell me the past is past,

so get over it,

Because I really couldn’t even if I tried !

– Christine S. Maccabee

A CALL TO ACTION

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Philosophy, Politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2015 by Drogo

Reject excess, honor nature.” – Gandhi

Essay on Gandhi’s quote By Christine Maccabee for ON THE WILD SIDE Jan.2016

Depending on your political, religious or philosophical positions, you may or may not read this essay. Some say it is too late to do anything, some say it is not necessary, and still others say “who cares?”, However, many do care, and care a lot. I am one who cares, and dares to write, so read this at your own risk.

If there ever was a time for all of us to make a difference for on-going quality of life on this our planet, it is now. Of course, I and many others had those very same thoughts way back in the 1970’s. Back then, plastics still had carcinogenic chemicals in them, (even baby bottles!) and industrial chemical wastes were dumped into water like Love Canal and other places, creating severe health problems for people and wildlife living near them. Acid rain was killing off the beautiful trees in Germany’s Black forest, and here in the States many lakes were becoming too acidic for fish and other aquatic creatures to survive. If it were not for EPA regulations, many of these problems would still exist !

You may or may not be aware of the many late 1900’s environmentalists who were at the forefront of revealing damaging pollution sources and actually doing something about it. Legal groups like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have been great watchdogs and have made a huge difference in keeping our planet’s resources and wild areas relatively free of pollution. Then there were the individuals who took it upon themselves to fight against rampant environmental degradation, two of the most well known being Julia Butterfly and Erin Brockovich.

Julia was a young idealist who had the guts to save some of the last remaining ancient Redwood trees in California by camping out in the top of one of the largest (which she called Luna) and staying there for over one year without coming down ! Her goal was somewhat achieved, making deals with the lumber company to preserve the trees surrounding Luna before she descended back to the earth. After that she formed a small movement of earth caring people, and I actually heard her speak years ago at Hood college. She is one of my heroines, and a major inspiration for many others. Perhaps we too can do something , perhaps not so grand , or brave, as Julia, but SOMETHING….

Another woman who stuck her neck out in order to make a difference was Erin Brockovich. Perhaps you remember the movie made about her efforts staring Julia Roberts, the far too sexy version of Erin but nonetheless interesting and entertaining. Erin became a “whistle blower” when she discovered major groundwater pollution due to the negligence of the gas and electric company she worked for. After a difficult fight, the company repented of its ways and Erin became a heroine for all of us who care the heck what is happening to our water and our air. We may never do anything so noble and scary as she did, but the day may come when we too will be confronted with something we can do to make a real difference.

Mahatma Gandhi was a wise man, as was Jesus. Both of them said that we should, and CAN, live with less. When Gandhi died all he had in his possession were his eye glasses and his sandals. As far as I know, Jesus didn’t own anything. My question, and the question of so many others, especially young people I know, is how in the world did we get to this place where all that we own and buy, besides being way too much, is polluting and basically wrecking our planet ? These are huge, important questions for all of us to be asking, and many of us are.

Why did Gandhi feel as he did when he said “Reject excess, honor nature”? Perhaps he knew what Jesus knew…that “heaping up treasures on earth” will lead to spiritual disease. I am sure they both knew how our materialism would injure this precious gift of life we have on our planet. One only needs to see, on line, the photo of a dead pelican whose stomach is filled with plastic trash, which is filling our ocean and marshlands, to know this to be true.

Is there no remedy, no hope? Of course there is, so long as people jump in to solve the problems. After all, the most basic and useful trait of human beings is our ability to problem solve. Our children are learning to do this in school everyday, and so are we adults in our everyday lives.

So live lightly on the earth, and take action. As I always say, “Every little bit helps”, but “do more if you can.” I .

I Worship at the Altar of Creation

Posted in Poems, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 1, 2015 by Drogo

I worship at the altar of Creation.

Call me pantheist if you will

but labels cannot describe

the mystical connection I feel

while gazing upon the faces

of myriad aster flowers

or hearing the songs of birds

which live in my Sanctuary

where its altar is strewn

with diversity of flora and fauna,

on this Earth filled with infinite species

numbers still not counted

and wiser than any human

fabrication of religion

or material contraption.

I worship at the altar of Creation

not just at the all too human

cloistered inside chapel

where hymns of praise are sung

but air is filled with stagnant odors,

windows closed to the great Outdoors.

Give me more ! the outer air,

the sweet perfume of springs mimosa

the healing aroma of every flower

entwined together as if by plan

all singing in harmony

with profound profusion

in this Sanctuary where I dwell,

my Mystic Meadows.

 

  • Christine S. Maccabee 

Misunderstood but Beautiful – Flowers as People

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by Drogo
Much of the beauty and value of the natural world will be missed,
and lost, if it is constantly condemned as unimportant, and destroyed.“
– from Garden Ramblings

In a very real way, flowers are a lot like people. Fragile, they are born vulnerable, and if fortunate to receive the proper care, will thrive and bear much goodness. However, many people, like flowers, are misunderstood. Some of us are late bloomers and get cut down while struggling to grow, while others of us may express ourselves in the wrong way, or the wrong place, and are criticized.

True, it is about the world of plants and flowers that I mostly write, but the connection between humans and the natural world being what it is – ever constant and essential—it is ofttimes impossible to separate the two. Many of our greatest writers and teachers refer to nature, recognizing the wisdom that is to be gained if we but open our hearts and our minds to it. Many of these people have been misunderstood as well.

Four of my very favorite wildflowers are the lavender bergamot, rarely seen anymore due to mowing, the shy blue chicory, the wild asters of which I have 4 species on my property, and the tall rarely seen white and yellow wild sweet clovers (which look nothing like clovers, but are in that family). Both chicory and bergamot are blooming profusely right now here at my Mystic Meadows and I can never see them enough. The wild bergamot has cross pollinated with its relative the gorgeous red monarda, creating two new shades of purple and maroon. I am blown away by their beauty and their usefulness. Standing very still by each large cluster of flowers which are shoulder high, the hundreds of flowers seem literally in motion with the activity of hummingbird moths, various butterflies, and bumble bees large and small. Of course, even a hummingbird cruises by for a nip on the way to its favorite mimosa tree. Sadly, I see very few honey bees this year.

Chicory is the most tenacious wildflower I know. It tends to grow right up against the country roads people drive down in their early morning rush to work or school, gracing our journeys with their joyful blue color, brightening our moods if we but see them. Even when mowed down, they grow right back, undeterred. If permitted, they will bloom right through the summer into fall, providing nectar for bees and later, essential seeds for small birds like finch. They usually close their blue petals during the heat of the day, and so are seen as ugly by most people as they have tiny leaves and look spindly when their petals are closed. But oh, when the day is cooler and the flowers are open, behold the powdery blue profusion !

Wild asters spend the entire summer growing slowly into tall, elegant plants full of elongated leaves. There are 4 varieties which I grow throughout my gardens, and the reward for my patience is a glorious, end-of -summer show of tiny, daisy-like flowers, a final bust of white and purple beauty which goes well into the fall. These plants, besides being a welcome source of inspiration for me before the long, cold days of winter, serve as essential nectar and pollen for our bees. Without these wildflowers the bees could easily starve in their hives. Goldenrod, which I will write about in a sequel to this article, is also significant for bees, and even butterflies, to stave off starvation. It is and has been mostly misunderstood as well.

Many years ago I was enjoying the beauty of my back road where, unfortunately, the white and yellow wild sweet clovers were growing embarrassingly close to the road. They are somewhat guilty of looking gangly, like some people I know, and were very tall. I knew they would eventually be mowed, so I decided to cut them with more care by myself. So, I went home and came back laden with an arsenal of cutting tools, only to loose my resolve when I put the blade to their stalks. I thought to myself “what is more important, the flowers or the road”. I had observed very few of these particular flowers being permitted to grow anywhere, so I put down my weapons and joined the ranks of the misunderstood. After that day, they moved themselves to a safer place. They now grow, undisturbed, in various spots on my property. Plants come to me that way, and I welcome them with open arms !

I love the late bloomers and the misunderstood ones, be they human or flower. Perhaps our biggest challenge in life is to embrace these ones, to accept them as amazing creations on this miraculous planet which is full to bursting with diversity. I leave you with an ancient Indian quotation I love which reflects the awesomeness of it all…” Flowers are the footprints of the dancing steps of God.”

Now off I go to enjoy the rest of this glorious summer !!

by Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

Christine is a Master Naturalist in the State of MD.. She welcomes any questions and feedback at songbirdschant@gmail.org

GARDEN HELP (Shadow Black Cat)

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems with tags , , , , , , , on July 10, 2015 by Drogo

by Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

*

Wishing for a shadow

as I do my morning chores…

Another “me” to follow

lifting buckets of manure.

Like a streak my little black cat

races past me down the path.

I smile…

he makes me laugh.

After watering I go into the house,

and there he quietly sits,

My shadow…

beside his dinner dish.

My garden help,

little Black !

Lucky One #4: Refugees

Posted in Poems with tags , on May 31, 2015 by Drogo

THE LUCKY ONE # 4 “Refugees”

How dare I complain about anything happening to me

When refugees all over the world are displaced by terror

Barely coping without food, water, shelter or beauty

And never having the hope of returning to their homes ?

Beauty surrounds me here.

I live within an oasis of goodness.

The wild plants surround me like a prayer

and still I lament my situation.

Pain and deprivation are all relative.

I have a home but lack joy.

I have food but eat alone.

And I have more rain than I need today.

The refugees from Yeoman suffer from heat;

Too much sun in places all over the world,

Too much rain in others.

Inevitable imbalances on earth.

So today I strive for perspective,

For I displace myself with my own lamentations,

My loneliness is breeding despair,

and I am exhausted from work and worry.

Sure, I am The Lucky One,

Except for the bad luck

which follows me like a black cloud

from which I cannot seem to escape.

A refugee from my own despair

I understand the refugees and their plight,

their flight from torment and death.

We are all refugees…

– Poem By Christine Maccabee