Earthworms’ Castings

With Jean Ponzi

Two Treks and What I Learned On Them

Friday, January 13, 2017
While St. Louis locks down in an ice storm, I am enjoying a mild winter day in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the territory of my youth.
I drove north to visit my Mom, made it out of St. Louis the day before ice blizzards hit. Over the 360 miles that separate the home of my birth from the home I have made as a woman grown.

On this day, I go out for a walk, just a few refreshing strides around Mom’s apartment complex pond. I’ve taken a break out there before. It’s classic suburbia land-use: holding pond dug to catch run-off from development hardscapes, spruced up a bit with some pine trees.

On the first lap around the pond I notice a little gravel road leaving the complex outskirts. I follow this path down a slope and come to a vehicle barricade. This doesn’t deter me, being a walker.

Onward! I soon realize I’m walking in actual Nature, a field of stalks, plants I know: coneflowers, milkweeds, long-stemmed grasses, clumps of goldenrod and asters. Brown and dried, their seedheads bobbing, these are native varieties, distinct even as remnants of last summer’s bounty. I don’t recognize every variety, but I can tell from iced-up patches of ground that a lot of this area is wetland.

I come to a creek, partly frozen, curving through paper-bark white birch clusters. If I had a pair of walking sticks, I’d explore down the creek-banks, but the ground is slick. I don’t want to cause drama on this visit.

Now I’m in an allée of sumac, the towering brown-red heads of this bush are unmistakable. It leads me out of the natural field, toward a subdivision of houses. I tramp along blacktop roads with no sidewalks, eventually cross a major street and come into another natural area.

A “short walk” lasts nearly three hours. I finally emerge on a main road several miles from where my mother lives.

How does this rambling Nature thrive, between suburban thoroughfares lined with strip malls, health care facilities, and housing developments? My brother tells me the local municipality proudly maintains this Nature Preserve – and others – amid classically commercially defined, human-progress “development.”
Wandering, trekking around and around in it, I feel joyfully centered and at home. Smack in the heart of American Consumer Suburbia.

Saturday, January 21, 2017
I join the millions of women, men and children on all seven Earth continents – with the 13,000 or more in St. Louis – who throng streets today to state some facts:
This is what Democracy looks like!
Our Bodies – Our Rights – Our Business.
Love Trumps Hate – and much more.

This is the first march I’ve participated in since the George H. W. Bush Gulf War. I’m a daily community contributor to environmental awareness, motivation and constructive activity but I’m not a protestor. But I must add my presence and energy here, for humanity and All Our Relations – and to recharge my own civic courage, ground down by current political events.

I carry an Earth Flag.
I hold our home’s
image aloft, at arm’s
length, through the
whole morning march.
The wind dances with
us both, keeping that
blue banner open and

There are very few signs about the environment, or climate change, or even proclaiming Love Your Mother. These are important women’s issues – important for humans in general! Many people smile and cheer Earth’s flag. I am so very glad I brought it.
People are responding to the Blue Marble image of our planet, a gift of perspective men (literally) gave to all of humankind nearly a half-century ago. Our species’ population has more than doubled since then. How has our perspective evolved?

Marching, singing, waving an Earth Flag, I feel human energy awakened and moving. I am part of that movement, one cell in a massive organism, where much awake, enlightened action is needed. Smack in the Heartland of America.

I am back in my daily life. Many things I care deeply about are newly, increasingly threatened. Forces of reason seem in decline. I continue to struggle to keep my balance, to keep moving in a positive, constructive way.
What’s to learn here? From two vivid journeys, on routes that were frigid and inflamed. One was slippery on the human-made paths and relatively easy to travel – with care – on the natural surfaces. The other was smoothly, evenly made by humans, who filled its spaces with upheaval. So, what?
Go to Nature for recharge when human
stuff gets overwhelming.!
Humans and Nature have a
natural attraction,
even though we have learned to resist it.
Nature, our biological REALITY, is a true
reality, reality we don’t need to resist.
Nature will meet you, in surprising places.
Expect! Enjoy!

Jean Ponzi makes Earth connections every week through her Earthworms interviews, podcasting from KDHX.
Connect at Podcasts.KDHX.org.