Stand with me behind my house and see how rich I am. See the tall oak trees, the pines, and a massive, smooth trunked beech tree. See a brilliant cardinal standing in the black tupelo, wondering when to chase the nervous chickadees from the bird feeder. Watch the gray and brown squirrels chasing one another in a spiral up an oak trunk.
Next come with me as I invade their territory with a wheelbarrow full of yard waste. In a flash, the squirrels desert their territory along with house finches and dark eyed juncos. I dump the material where it will slowly rejoin the fertile soil—soil alive with a thousand insects, worms and spiders, and a billion invisible microbes.
I might be able to point out where my property ends but it is no matter. The countless lives that carry on here pay it no attention, so why should we? Before we leave, let’s look high along the rough trunks of the black cherry tree and watch the white puffs move cross the azure sky.
Now back on my civilized deck, ponder with me the countless beings that live in the woods—their woods, for their predecessors held it for centuries before me and will for centuries after. Listen to the distant hammering of a pileated woodpecker. Imagine the unseen shrews, garter snakes and toads. And consider the elaborate universe of life that is theirs.
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