Finally, watersheds have advocates! Workers are getting signatures to put the Water, Forest and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative on the November ballot. The Initiative will give enhanced protection to our watersheds, forests, and oak woodlands.The wine industry is poised to stop the initiative before it gets before voters. Consider donating even a small amount to move this initiative into the public eye. It makes the voluntary protection of forests and oak woodlands, key to the health of our watersheds and water supply, mandatory. Please make sure you sign the petition if you are a Napa County resident. If you have time, volunteers are needed to collect signatures. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to donate or to volunteer to collect signatures.
To celebrate the beginning of the collection of signatures, I offer this guest blog in the form of a poem by eco-poet Elizabeth Carothers Herron. Elizabeth’s writing includes poetry, articles on art and ecology, the role of art in society, and the importance of natural systems and biodiversity in the physical and spiritual well-being of individuals, communities, and the planet. The following poem is in memoriam for the many strong, healthy trees which have been felled for vineyards and winery dreams.
The War on Trees
Drinking tea in bed on a rainy night (the cat
curled next to my hip), I lean
to the warm cup on the bedside table
and then, like the glimpse
of a young girl running through a far woods,
almost beyond sight, almost lost, caught
with the surprise of a sharp pain —
a thought, a memory
like waking at night and tripping
over the stool left mid-rug, losing your balance
in the dark. And so we fall
toward what hurts – all the losses, and listening
to the worrying, the constant effort
to make up for old failures.
Still I wasn’t quiet. I didn’t quit fighting.
Under the alder branches, hummingbird nest a thimble
of lichen in leaves, now you see it now you don’t sway
of spring. Going back and seeing
they’d cut them, my beloved alders, guardians,
of the path to my door.
Where did the hummingbird go to make her nest?
Ten times four seasons – prayers
of leaf buds unfolded into pairs of green wings
as if for a while the bare branches were filled
with tiny green birds fluttering in the spring breeze.
catkins with their blessing of pollen
smeared the sidewalk chartreuse.
(the tea cup warm in my hands, the sleeping cat)
All the slain trees I’ve loved — Why this war? The lies
told to cut them down. The arborist knowing to say
one is diseased so others can be saved.
And what of the souls of trees?
What of their generous spirits, welcoming
branches open to the rain, the wild waltz to winter winds?
How they cooled the house through hot summers.
What is this war on trees?
The thought of some things hurts so
the mind stumbles
and falls into the still-howling self —
what is beloved and taken by malice or caprice.
Now two hawks swim through winter oaks, gone in a blink.
Fifteen years here and those alders from the old place
come back and back. (the cat purring, warm)
Was I so lonely?
The great tenderness of trees.
How the alders grew, and the ginkgo by the kitchen —
so slowly yet one day it reached the second story window,
my writing room, and how I watched its leaves toss
in October, a shudder of yellow fans
and then the puddle of gold they made around its trunk.
The quiet comfort, the small steady joy of some trees (some animals).