Tom & I have just returned from Camano Island where we participated in a botanical tour on the land where we hope to create a monastic eco village. The tour was conducted by Bob Dietal rector at St Aidan’s Episcopal church in Stanwood. Bob used to be a botanist and was amazingly knowledgeable about all the plants and animals on the land. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the glory of God’s creation.
Cedars and Douglas firs are the most impressive of course but it is easy for us to miss the other small gems nestled in nooks and crannies near them (most of whose names I can’t remember unfortunately)
I was fascinated by the medicinal qualities of many of the plants we looked at too. Bark, berries, roots and leaves have all been used by Native Americans to relieve pain and cure disease.
What dismayed me however was how much of what we saw had been introduced either intentionally or unintentionally by human intervention. English ivy, buttercups, and holly are all rapidly taking over from the native species. Even the native Northwest Banana slugs are being replaced by California invaders.
Now maybe slugs aren’t your favourite creatures and you don’t particularly care what happens to them but who knows what unique and important species are likely to be lost as a result of our thoughtless intervention.
After all did you know that one of the most important creatures in the soil is the termite? And they are at the top of our list of creatures we want to eradicate. Yet they aerate the soil, recycle nutrients and decompose wood and plant debris.
Termite mounds in Africa have been an inspiration for humans who want to mimic their fantastic ventilation system. Hot air rises through tubes in the above ground mounds while winds from outside send air currents down into the subterranean chambers so temperature is regulated no matter the weather outside.
Amazingly termites often dig up to two hundred feet deep in search of water. The soil is brought up to ground level and added to the structure of the mound. Gold prospectors are known to inspect termite mounds and in fact, the largest diamond mine in the world, in Botswana, was discovered by examining a termite mound.
So imagine what other secrets the small creatures in our forests could unveil. Perhaps they hold the keys to our survival in the future. God really does use the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. What do you think?