Homeschooling in a pandemic: Trash Adventures
Birch and I have been going on "trash adventures" into the woods around our house to collect garbage. We have now found multiple areas where people just dumped all their trash in the forest many years ago. Glass bottles, old ones. Shoes that have fallen apart. 1970s wallpaper. A big pile of it. So much more.
I expected Birch would groan when I made the suggestion that we go collect trash in the woods. He was enthusiastic about the activity, about cleaning the earth. On the way back he exclaimed, “It makes me feel really good to clean the earth.” I thought, “That’s cuz you aren’t the one carrying this heavy trash bag home!” Just kidding, (sort of). I really/also thought, maybe it’s ok we are not home doing more math? Maybe the earth needs more stewards.
What grows is what gives
A new grove of maple trees is taking root on top and all around where all this old junk is buried. I reflected with Birch on how all these new trees are growing from human’s trash. The earth has an innate will to live. To make beauty out of our trash. Nature does not think about creating beauty. It just does.
Within and around this grove, so many Jack-in-the-pulpits. And trilliums. These plants are incredible plants. I am still learning about their medicine and magic. Trilliums used to be so abundant that some tribal cultures would eat their leaves. When they get really established, some of them develop two stalks. It came in a dream that, together the two-stalk structure looks like a uterus, with each of the flowers reflecting ovaries. One of trilliums names is birthroot. Need I say more.
I thought about the virus. I thought about how hard these potent plants are working to transform human waste into beauty. The flowers being, of course, one aspect of nature that is all working so hard to mitigate our waste. I see all this trash buried in the earth in this beautiful sacred spot here. I honor the history and the ancestors of the land.
I look at this beauty emerging from the trash as I ponder the breadth of theories about this virus. Conspiracy theories and what not. I look at the maples again, emerging from a forest blanket of glass bottles and I think the virus is of the earth, and it is karmic. Not the classic understanding of karma as retribution for wrong-doing, but rather the karma of creating balance. Which is really just acknowledging the basic law of physics. Every action has a reaction. We have polluted the earth. The virus is a response, it is her sickness from our waste that is making us sick. I shared my idea with Birch, reminding him that there are lots of ideas about how the virus got here and even though lots of people think they know which idea is right, none of us really do. I asked him what his thoughts are. He said, “That makes sense”. I said, “What does Birch?” He said, “That the people have made the earth sick and now it’s making them sick.” (He said them, curious about them v. us…how and when do we separate them from us?)
I wonder if we could spend more time working together distantly to heal the earth and less time in conflict and shaming patterns around these big debates like vaccines and all the varied impacts of COVID and quarantining.