Nature Awareness

An account of the Dedicant’s efforts to work with nature, honor the Earth, and understand the impacts and effects of the Dedicant’s lifestyle choices on the environment and/or the local ecosystem and how she or he could make a difference to the environment on a local level. (500 word min) (WC 911)

Most of my explorations and workings with nature centered around spending time with the local, historic Stone Mountain graveyard and interacting with the trees there. I also visited Fernbank Forest as well as Stone Mountain Park.

The first place I visited was Fernbank Forest near Decatur, GA. For being a museum, it was depressing to not be able to learn much from my exploration; the old Fernbank Forest entrance was near the Science Center and they explained all sorts of aspects of the forest for school children to learn from, but that entrance was closed to the public. While it was gorgeous with huge ancient (ancient for the area) trees around, there were too many people wandering about to truly lose myself there. After walking the trail on my first dedicant path attempt to spend time in nature, I realized I wanted to better understand the trees and plants I was seeing in the area.

I also tried Stone Mountain Park where they had a small island I could walk around. That was nice with the water surrounding said island, but again too many people about to truly connect with nature.

That’s why I settled on the old Stone Mountain graveyard where I could find an old tree and just sit under it and just be or meditate.  I explored the area with my crane bag where I held a book on identifying trees and a fold out on Georgia trees. After a number of weekly visits, I created a little thanks I would say to the older trees I came across. I would place my hands on the tree, lower my head and say:

“To the nature spirits that dwell within this tree and the tree itself, I come to show you respect and to honor you. Thank you for looking after the ancestors in this graveyard.”

There might have been slight variations in what I said, but the gist remained the same. After doing this a number of weeks in a row, I started to come back to trees I had visited before. What was a fascinating experience was feeling the energy of the tree interact with me after I thanked them. I noticed that the oak trees gave me a big influx of energy that I could feel up to my shoulders, but when I would visit them again the next week or so, I didn’t receive any gift of energy, but would again if I visited maybe a month later. Many of the other trees didn’t give me any energy back, but cedars would be similar to the oak trees except the energy they shared with me didn’t seem to go past my wrists.

Also, I had two times where I truly felt I connected with the trees. Once, I thanked the tree and quietly connected with the tree and I could feel what the tops of the tree felt as the wind played in its branches. It was truly a moving experience (no pun intended). The second experience was when I thanked a certain tree and I heard something fall down (probably an acorn) to my left into the fallen leaves beside me. I then smiled and looked up at the tree and said, “You’re letting me know you heard and appreciate my thanks, huh?” Next thing I know, in response another acorn or something fell into the leaves closer to my feet.

On my journeys to the graveyard, I identified a few main trees: crepe myrtles, eastern red cedars, turkey oaks, and a few persimmon trees. Those were the main trees that were in there. I did find peace and calm while spending with trees. Even my fiancée felt the main tree I would spend time leaning against was a powerful and calming tree.

As for my personal taking care of the environment, I have four main recycle bins I got from IKEA: one for plastics, one for glass, one for newspaper, and one for aluminum cans. I also put all my steel cans into a grocery bag when done with them. Whenever any of the recycling bins are near full or are full, I’ll take them and any cardboard I have down to a recycling center at the DeKalb Farmers’ Market which takes most recycling. For my aluminum cans though, I take those to a fire station where they use the aluminum to help fund a burned firefighters’ fund. Currently, since I live alone, I only have to put my trash can out to be picked up by the garbage people once a month or so since I recycle as much as I do.

I might end up put onto the city council in 2019 (I ran and lost by 6 votes in 2017). If I do, I will push for more green practices like having both a normal trashcan with a trashcan specifically for recycling next to it. I also have the goal to push for utility companies to have to have any tree cutting they do be approved by someone approved by the city council. The reason for that is that the utility companies have been hacking and maiming trees that even aren’t necessarily in their way. I’ve been told there was one that they hacked the limbs off so poorly that it ended up dying and needing to be cut down. If I don’t get put onto the city council into the soon-to-be-vacated seat, I will push for it as a citizen.