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Bits and Pieces

by Barrie Hopkins

Water and air

In a younger year, preteen and beyond, I was exceptionally fortunate in having a chance extended association with two outside-of-the-schoolroom teachers who strongly influenced my life.

They were both in their mid-30s, female, and both with deep North American First Nations roots. Though their acquaintances were of widespread occurrence and their tribes far parted, their thoughts and concern were both of deeply felt respect for the use of our God-given natural resources. To them I owe much of my alertness to the huge platter of gifts that Mother Nature has woven into the network of life worldwide. Any abuse of use would be felt by many generations yet to come.

It was through their teachings that I gained the ability to live off the land if the need should so arise. It was through them that I was to learn the marvel of the water’s flow, which is fundamental to all life - man, beast or plant - on this Earth. It was through their gentle persuasion that I came to know the symbiotic equation that binds all life, one to the other. We share the same water. We breathe the same air. We share the shine of the sun and the glow of the moon and the wind that blows across continents and oceans, flowing from nation to nation. All are universal elements.

Without the big maple, which grows in our yard, breathing in carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen, along with gallons and gallons of moisture adding humidity and cooling, by evaporation, the purified air that you and I breathe, we could well be sucking into our lungs right now, at this very moment, the expelled hiccup of an African hippo, the belly-scratched burp of an Alaskan sea otter, or the guttural gasses released ’neath the raised switching tail of a well-tusked, root-chomping, discontented wild boar, in the somewhere outback of Borneo. So go out and hug some trees in thanks for their expertise and kindness in what they are quietly doing for you and for me. And all of this interwoven intricacy is absolutely free.

We are well aware of the physical nature of water as well as the mechanics of habitat destruction.  We have subdued its might, accumulating humongous quantities artificially behind gigantic dams. The trees that we continue to slaughter, in order to replace the stone heritage buildings that have already lasted 150 years, and with a little care and repair would further last a double, triple, or quadruple century, just don’t make sense to me. Why tear down that which was built to last and replace it with a deplorable, sick-looking, poorly designed, ill-structured building that will have a lifetime that droops in less than the decades that you can count on one hand? Much less than the time it takes to grow a tree to a maturely usable stature. Where lies the sustainability in such action?

We are well aware of the dropping of water tables and freshwater springs drying up worldwide. Yet we continue to fill in our wetlands, straight gut  our rivers and streams and tile the fields that once held and filtered the waters that slowly fed tributary streams and rivers. Yet our planners, builders, architects and engineers go on blithely, yet blindly doing the exact same thing with visions of big dollars dancing in their heads. What will it take to stir up an awakening to reality? What will it take to instill a mind-set, a change of attitude that sees beyond the now and sufficiently into the future to make life possible for generations far down the road? You can’t eat money. Money neither nourishes the body or soul.

 Water and air are systemic; they flow through all things. Man, beast, bird, plant and all life on Earth cannot exist without either. And yet we abuse both brutally right, left and centre. Is it not time that we recognize that we cannot improve on nature’s natural flow? Water and oxygen constitute 90 per cent of the human brain. Yet it is a brain that fails pitifully in recognition of that fact. There are times in my life when I feel nothing but shame in being a member of the creature known in the world of the anthropologist as that of the Homo sapiens species.

Take care, ’cause we care.              




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