What’s Ahead in 2015: Earth Work

Sphinx moth pollinating native penstemon flowers in a park reclaimed from an abandoned industrial site. Sphinx moth pollinating native penstemon flowers in a park reclaimed from an abandoned industrial site.

What’s ahead for me in 2015? More earth work, more loving the world as best I can. Living my belief that we humans can make a positive contribution to this battered planet. Spreading that message through word and intellect, as well as sweat and singing muscles: writing, teaching, and landscape restoration work.

As I envision the year’s work, I hold my four resolutions close: live generously, write more, laugh often and love much. My intention, my heart’s aim is for all of my work to express each resolution.

Writing, I often say, is my way of loving the world. I think of the memoir I’m revising now, Bless the Birds, as a gift of love. It’s a story about how any of us can become the sort of people able to walk life’s most difficult passages with grace. Not perfectly, mind you, but with as much love and generosity as we humans are capable of–and we are capable of a lot of both if we make the effort.

The book I imagine writing after Bless the Birds is even more directly related to my belief that healing the earth heals we humans in the doing. Pieces of the story have lived in my head in various forms for decades. I think I finally see a way to weave the disparate threads into a coherent narrative, and I even have a title: Earth Work: Lessons From Restoring the Land No One Wanted.

The land no one wanted, restored and blooming. The land no one wanted, restored and blooming.

Writing is not the only way I live generously and express my love for this planet and all of the lives on it, human, domestic, and wild. I think of my teaching as another way of sharing the wisdom I’ve gathered from the community of the land (nature) and from doing my best to live with heart outstretched as if it were my hand.

In the year ahead, I’ll be teaching more workshops on habitat gardening, a way to heal the earth right at home, mitigate global climate change, and re-connect ourselves to the balm and joy of nature. I’m also re-starting my Write & Retreat workshops with a week in the incredible landscapes of northwest Wyoming, the home of my heart and my fieldwork as a plant scientist.

Earth work: teaching in Durango last spring Earth work: teaching in Durango last spring

And I’ve got some exciting plans for habitat restoration work ahead too.

All of which come under the heading of earth work: living generously with love for this world, and following my heart’s belief that healing earth is healing for we people too.

Earth work. It’s my way honoring the gift that is this life, our daily existence on an extraordinary blue planet, a community of species that makes up the only home we humans have ever known.


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Sacred datura, one of the flowers Georgia O'Keeffe painted, recolonizing its native land. Sacred datura, one of the wildflowers Georgia O’Keeffe painted, re-colonizing its home.