“The generosity of the earth is not an invitation to take it all.”
Enjoying a casual picnic in our front yard, the kids were running around picking yellow flowers and feasting on their sour stems (I later learned that flower is called Buttercup). I asked my kids if they were granted permission. I allow it but the plants might not. My kids recently started asking permission from plants before picking them. Just as they ask the lemons if they are ready to be picked from our tree.
This is one example of the influence of “Braiding Sweetgrass” on me and my family.
The book is changing my perception of the nature that surrounds me at the age of 45.
I considered myself an outdoorsy person, yet I couldn’t name the plants that grow around my neighborhood, the insects, or the birds that visit them. When sitting outside, I rather place a mat between me and the grass. I am hardly successful at growing my veggies or herbs.
Robin Wall Kimmerer, the author of this stimulating book, reminds the readers how detached we have become from our origins. She reminds us of our lost love to mother Earth. Mother Earth loves its children and provides an abundance of gifts in the forms of food and resources. Yet we forget to reciprocate and give our thanks. The respect and the gifting should be mutual.
We have become so disconnected, that although most of us enjoy birds singing, nature view, fresh air, blue skies, we spend most of our time away from all of these, attached instead to cold technology.
Kimmerer helps me look differently at the plants I used for decoration in my house, maybe even with compassion. Instead of living things, the land, plants, animals, are becoming beings to me. I downloaded an app to help me name the non-human residents in my neighborhood.
As I read, I learn about the indigenous people that lived in the U.S before it became the U.S, their connection to nature, how they treated the land, I learn about Honorable Harvest, the Thanksgiving Address. I learn how some plants are meant to grow side by side others, like siblings. I learn about the connection between what we know about plants thanks to science and the qualities of plants that we don’t yet understand.
Kimmerer’s sense of longing and love for nature is so strong, and her descriptions are so vivid, that I can almost see different colors of flowers and almost sense the freshness of the forest.
This book is poetry for the love of the land.
I believe many other readers may be impacted in similar ways by this book. I wish everyone would read this book. In fact, it should be taught in school.
Braiding Sweetgrass is about the essence of environmental sustainability. It’s about what motivates sustainable behavior such as preserving water, restoration, increasing our energy efficiency, and reducing our consumption and waste. It’s about appreciation of the resources that we are constantly gifted with and about being genuinely thankful for those gifts and giving back to the Earth in our own way. A mindset of respect, appreciation, and reciprocity for the land is the true path to protect it. With such a mindset, sustainability and green living will become our default behavior.
Finally, a book about climate change allows me to grieve without being anxious. Instead of fear, it stems positive thoughts in my mind and motivation for the positive change that can be made and that we are capable of.
My favorite calls to action from the book:
“Let us all weep for the world we are breaking apart so we can love it back to wholeness again.”
“You don’t show your love and care by putting everything you love behind a fence. You have to be involved. You have to contribute to the well-being of the world.”
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