Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Lessons from the Ivy Vine

This is an excerpt taken from John Muir's book titled My First Summer in the Sierra:

"Poison oak or poison ivy (Rhus diversiloba), both as a bush and a scrambler up trees and rocks, is common throughout the foothill region up to a height of at least three thousand feet above the sea. It is somewhat troublesome to most travelers, inflaming the skin and eyes, but blends harmoniously with its companion plants, and many a charming flower leans confidingly upon it for protection and shade. I have oftentimes found the curious twining lily (Stropholtrion californicum) climbing its branches, showing no fear but rather congenial companionship. Sheep eat it without apparent ill effects; so do horses to some extent, though not fond of it, and to many persons it is harmless. Like most other things not apparently useful to man, it has few friends, and the blind question, "Why was it made?" goes on and on with never a guess that first of all it might have been made for itself."
(John Muir. My First Summer in the Sierra. Dover Publications Inc. Mineola, NY 2004. pg 14)

What lesson may we learn from this great American nature writer? May we choose to see all living things to have been "made [first and foremost] for itself," and in so doing respect the priceless worth and intrinsic value of all wildlife whether we speak of distant redwoods or sugar maples close to home, of migrating monarch butterflies or ants that show up in the kitchen fully intending to clean up after us?

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