Exploring Green

Early Morning Magic
by Anne Martin -- April 17th, 2017

I walked down the beach as the sun rose…soft sand under my feet, slowly dusting my heels with little golden rocks. I sat down at the point to watch the early morning surfers and let the tops of the biggest waves surge up the beach to wet my toes. A small fluttering movement caught my eye and I looked down at a furry little honey bee marching towards me.

She spun around until her wings and little golden stripes suddenly caught the sun, transforming her momentarily into its reflection. My hair hung down and spun in the wind, shining for brief moments, almost the same color as her fur. It was a moment of connection that I’m sure that I only felt, although she didn’t seem to mind my presence.

It is humbling to think about all the good that that little creature has done for the world…the flowers and fruit trees and bright red tomatoes that she has likely pollinated and brought to life.

When she flew away up into the sky, I almost waved good-bye.

We learn the most from the smallest of creatures—watching and listening to what they have to say.

If I’m being honest with myself, I’ve harmed the earth in infinitely more ways than I have taken care of her over the years. But I hope that’s about to change.

I’m growing more and more of my own food now. I have a composting bin (and worms to keep it going). I have stopped buying new clothes (or new anything, really). I support local farmers and environmental efforts. I’m helping fund the planting of trees in Costa Rica. I’m transitioning to zero waste (or as close as I can get). I’m engaged in non-profit work around regenerative agriculture and directing a public school garden. I don’t use heating or air conditioning. I’m using biodegradable soaps and body products now. I drive my hybrid Prius as little as humanly possible (transitioning to primarily remote work in the coming months).

And yet still, despite my best efforts, it’s unlikely that I will ever live in the kind of harmony with the natural world that that little honey bee does. And so, again and again, I am humbled and inspired not by powerful humans or astounding new technology, but still by this little six-legged creature. Striking a balance between engaging in a modern world, and desperately trying to live in a way that will help save the parts that I hold most dear (and that I fervently believe that we depend on), is challenging. I hope simply that no matter what, I’ll continue to do my best (and make it possible for others to do so too).

After all, I realize, it’s not one bee that makes the world work, but the collective efforts of many.

As the sun climbed higher in the sky, I finally got up slowly to leave, pleased by the feeling of my feet sinking softly into the ground. I walked up towards the windy path away from the beach, meandering through the wild flowers that were beginning to grow up everywhere around me. Bees hummed, perhaps having arrived all from the same hive as the one that had come to visit me on the beach. The meadow was beautiful as a result of their tireless work. And so too, I know that it’s possible for us: I completely believe in humankind becoming kind again and in a new generation of human beings more and more interested in the values and philosophy behind their ways of “being”.

As always, just as the sun comes up and the flower petals open, there are rays of gorgeous hope.

©2016 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
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