Love Notes to Other Species
What if you could pen a note to a different species you love or admire? Here’s some poetry and prose that does just that.
You’re at Mother E, a free newsletter about our connections to other species in a climate-changing world. This time, I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day with a basket of love notes.
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Did you miss the last post? It’s here: Music of the Sphere
THE EXCITEMENT THRUMMED IN HER VOICE as she lifted an arm skywards to point at a gliding Ferruginous Hawk. I was on a coastal walk with a friend who loves birds, and she was drawing my attention to the action above our heads. The bird had an impressive 4-5 foot wingspan and used its keen eyesight to peer for prey. Its large shadow slid over us as we gazed upwards.
Mushroom fans (and I am one) become giddy over the weirdly-shaped edible mushrooms that push up from the forest floor after a rain. Then there are experts who devote much of their lives to understanding or protecting a single species, like bryologist (moss expert) Robin Wall Kimmerer or shark expert Demian Chapman.
What is it about the wildlife that sparks our excitement and joy? You may know people who have a passion for some particular part of nature: redwoods, wildflowers, rainbow trout, owls, tortoises, etc. Their enthusiasm can be contagious as they relate some strange fact or tell about a rare sighting.
February's calendar includes Valentine's Day when we celebrate those we love with extra attention. Maybe this year it's time to widen that circle of love to include more of the remarkable species who contribute to our well-being here on Earth.
What do you love in nature? Is there something you would step out of your comfort zone to protect, defend, or nurture? What would you miss if it were gone from this world? Love is expressed through our actions and deeds.
I asked a few nature-loving people to tell me how they appreciate another species. These are "love notes" to the more-than-human world from people who put their admiration into words and practice. Think of this as your box of pastel Valentine's word candies. Enjoy!
I first noticed Tempra Board's connection to mushrooms when she shared her photos on Facebook and marveled about her ‘shroom findings on her Sonoma County coastal walks. In this poem she wrote for Mother E, she has captured the close bond of mushrooms and fungus to the Earth and their sense of mystery, being neither plant nor animal, but something uniquely different.
Author Jeanne Jackson writes a popular weekly nature column, Mendonoma Sightings, in the Independent Coast Observer (ICO) for California's Mendocino/Sonoma coast and interviews regularly on KGUA. She also wrote a nature book of local sightings.
Here, she admires the native huckleberry bush (Vaccinium ovatum) and has made pancakes and fragrant cakes with their berries. Be sure to read her last line, as she has a special bond with this plant.
Don't we all love trees? They offer us fruits and medicines, wood for our building projects and to burn for warmth, shelter from the hot sun, habitat for other species, and environment-stabilizing services. Peaceful, sturdy, reliable, and with a long lifetime, trees very presence is soothing and uplifting.
Timothy Colman of Good Nature Publishing Company goes one step beyond loving trees to calling himself a "treeist" and sending blessings to the trees he passes on his frequent nature walks near the Salish Sea in Washington state.
Appreciating individual trees is a good way to become more conscious of how trees improve the lives of all living species. Here's his simple yet profound blessing for trees. Try it with a hand on the tree’s trunk.
He reminds us that tree stump rings and human fingerprints share similarities. See this photo comparison.
Scott and Theresa Mercer, husband and wife team, were mentioned in an earlier Mother E article, Singing Across Oceans. They are whale and marine experts and educators who run Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study. You can follow them on Facebook here, read about them here, or listen to a 6-minute radio interview on KZYX.
Their almost daily observations of gray whale migrations in season provide vital statistics for the Marine Mammal Census program, counting West coast Gray whales and other marine species. Their devotion brings them out to the coastal cliffs in Point Arena for over a hundred hours a month. Both sent me their written appreciation of whales.
Scott, a marine biologist, describes the whales’ lives under the ocean, an often-dark environment where sound is key to survival.
Theresa, who goes by the name “Tree”, taught biology but now joins in the Gray whale census and has become a whale expert as well. She adds her love note to Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus).
I took a coastal walk after I thought I had finished this article. As I gazed out to sea, three white plumes erupted from the water almost simultaneously. There was little wind, and the plumes were low and almost heart-shaped—Gray whales traveling north! Their backs arched above the water several times as they moved along their journey to the Arctic. Seeing whales always brings me joy.
I watched them until the golden sun reflection made it hard to see, then as I turned to leave, my eye was caught by a small white rock snuggled next to a bush. Its message: “Love one another and our Earth.”
In this month of celebrating love, let's be sure to include our fellow species who share our wider world.
Thank you to Tempra Board, Jeanne Jackson, Timothy Colman, Scott Mercer, and Tree Mercer for their contributions!
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