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Footprints of Time: A Moment With Bill Reflection

Updated on July 29, 2013

“BE AS FREE AS THE AIR OR WATER”

A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation.

Adlai E. Stevenson

The Crows and Shoshones knew it as a sacred place where mud boiled and fires spewed from the ground. John Coulter, a member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, wrote of geothermal activities in an area later to be known as Coulter’s Hell. Rumors spread for decades of a land where the laws of nature were ignored, a gathering place where great herds of bison roamed and elk were as plentiful as the wildflowers bordering the high mountain valleys.

Today we know it as Yellowstone, the gem of the National Park System and visited by millions of visitors seeking to catch a glimpse of the past and a vision of what life once looked like in the untamed west.

Stand on a hillock at sunset overlooking the Hayden Valley as the sun’s last rays spread over the birch and aspen trees and you will swear you can hear the echoes of our ancestors imploring that we leave well enough alone, that we just for a moment halt the senseless misuse of our lands and allow them to be, once more, sacred.

Before the Nikons, Minoltas and Canons are engaged for the day, walk down to the river and watch the beaver begin another day of engineering; watch the muskrats and the swans interact in a dance as old as time, and ask yourself if this land should ever be used for anything other than a reminder of what life could have been like before greed and short-sightedness had their way.

The Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park
The Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park
The Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail | Source

THE PROMISE OF A BETTER LIFE

The pilgrims are all gone now but the ruts remain. Near Guerney, Wyoming and Three Island Crossing, Idaho, there still exists, one hundred and fifty years later, evidence of a mass migration west in search of promise and hope.

One hundred and fifty years later and the grass still will not grow where the Prairie Schooners once rolled relentlessly onward towards Oregon. One hundred and fifty years later and the names of those with wanderlust in their veins are still etched on the trailside rocks.

One hundred and fifty years later and it is still possible to find a spot along the Oregon Trail where civilization is not apparent, where cell phone towers cannot reach and where, for just one moment, you can imagine what it feels like to be truly insignificant in the grand scheme of life.

The Everglades
The Everglades | Source

LAKE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

So remote was the area of grassy water that long after the entire continent had been explored, white men still had not penetrated its defenses.

The sawgrasses still bend with the wind and the leaves of the cypress trees still rustle, but the land is shrinking as developers keep pushing westward and eastward. Slash pines stand among the sloughs and mangroves somehow survive in the brackish water, providing shade and protection for the gators, herons and tarpon.

Yes, civilization is encroaching rapidly, but still a man, or woman, industrious enough and determined enough, can set foot where no other human being has been, and as the lightning dances above the canopy and the sounds of predators remind us of nightmares past, we are united once again with our primitive ancestors in a delicate dance of preservation.

A beautiful documentary

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE

We set aside these places of wonder; we say we cherish them and we visit them by the millions. They are for posterity we say, for the children of our children and beyond we say, and we hold fast to precious memories of our visits to these sacred places.

But what of the rest of the Earth? Is it not sacred too? Should it not be cherished as well?

I was walking the crest of the beautiful Cascades

The air clear, the wind crisp and my heart light

I thought of promises made and promises broken

Stewards we are and stewards we will always be

Or have we forgotten?


Down the ancient corridors we walk

Sharing footprints of time with those who came before

Will we see the beauty around us

Will we save our heritage or will we remain blind.

Beauty plundered for cash.

Dan Fogelberg "Wild Places"

THE CONNECTION IS LOST

There is a connection to the earth that we have lost. We designate certain areas for wilderness conservation, and we speak of the need to be more responsible, but the buck has been passed, and continues to be passed, and responsibility is for someone else to worry about.

Did our ancestors understand, or has it always been this way? Explore, conquer, pave over and use for the “greater good,” which of course is a euphemism for economic progress.

In every generation there has been a small handful of people who see the folly in industrialization. They grab hold of a small piece of land as a drowning man grasps flotsam in the wild seas, and they worked the land, brought bounty to the land and treated the land with the respect it was due. They understood that if the land dies then we die, and they cradled the blessed soil and took only what was needed to survive, always replenishing it so that the harvests would come again and again.

They fought back progress and spurned offers of money, knowing that a price could never be paid for peace of mind and balance of heart and soul. The land was their work; the land was their home; the land was them.

In every generation there has been a small handful of people who understand that preservation of these natural temples is as much about preservation of ourselves as a species, that to lose this bond would be the final act in a tragic play centuries in the making.

And in every generation there are the hordes of ravaging mongrels, tearing and destroying and raping and pillaging, all for a bigger home, fatter bank account and shinier car….cut down that forest, divert that river, strip mine that hillside and frack the hell out of that pristine meadow….for the future is now and there has never been a contract that couldn’t be broken with legalese, hollow promises and pure, unadulterated bs.

AND SO…..

The tug of war continues, but the balance is now squarely on the side of industrial and economic progress. The great blue heron sits upon a cypress branch, its talons digging in for extra purchase as though he, too, understands the precarious hold he has on the future. The swans and muskrats frolic on yet another summer day, safe within their Federally-protected cocoon, for the Yellowstone still gives at least the illusion of safety…..

And 300 million Americans continue following the footprints of time, but those footprints are now faded, and some are now lost forever, and the stragglers cannot seem to find their way….

And yet the roadmap is in their souls and the trail has always been etched in their hearts.

Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.
Epictetus

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      Beautiful Bill and definitely a great way to start this Monday morning off. Thank you for sharing and you know I have shared, too!

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Nature is not an accessory to human life, it IS life. Wonderful message...we all need to protect this planet's resources because they are not ours to destroy. ~Lurana

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! A little reflection to start the week is always a good choice. :) Have a wonderful day!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lurana, society certainly acts like the resources are theirs....this insanity has to stop soon.

      Thank you for visiting so early on a Monday. I hope you are well.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      There are footprints indelibly etched into the path that winds its way through the canyons in my mind.

      And when I pause in my walk to look at tiny, faint scratches on the heel of each print, it's then that I understand why following these pioneer footsteps feels comfortable and natural.

      And I smile...

      For the marks are initials etched into the sand, soil, and rocks.

      They read: WDH.

      Aloha, my friend, and thank you for a most beautiful and inspirational reading this morning. I heard your voice resonate throughout our land, and--once again--the forests, meadows, mountains, and plains were pristine and virginal.

      Joe

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joe, you are a writer extraordinaire.....one talented guy you are!

      Thank you buddy! Just trying to save these beautiful lands in any way that I can....raise awareness, one person at a time, so you and I have some beauty to see on our walks.

      Have a great day my friend and thank you as always.

      Aloha

      bill

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Wonderful article, Bill. The American indians were so intelligent in that they learned to live in interconnectiveness with the land. It is a shame that when the white settlers came they conquered and tore down instead of learning to live in harmony with nature. That is our culture's big mistake. We prefer to tear down and tear apart in the name of progress instead of cherishing the land we have. Money is the root of all evil here. I love the photos and quotes you have chosen to accompany this article. I am a proponent of conservation also and support you in your quest. Great article!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Bill and Joe, saviors of our land? Perhaps. That is what we need. People who realize the value of this planet earth and its resources. Even after all this time we still haven't learned how to carefully handle this gift we have been given.

      We see species of animals disappear and yet we do not understand we are responsible. We see forests denuded and yet we claim it is progress. Native Americans and people who have grown up in "the country" understand the beauty of the land and the lives it supports. When will the rest of us? When people like you two tell them. Your writing is so important (kinda beautiful too if I say so myself).

      Happy Monday!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzette, the clash of two cultures, and when the whites won that clash they brought their destructive nature to this country and spread the economic poison...and we are still reeling from it today. Hopefully wiser minds will prevail.

      Thanks for the visit...I owe you one for sure.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Another wonderful hub by you Billy. This again I am afraid is just the same here in Wales.

      It seems to be that this past year more trees have been cut down than ever before. There is a reasonable explanation for some but the majority just seem to be lying around rotting, with no apparent reason at all for the felling.

      It always angers me at the amount of junk mail that comes pouring in through our letter box; reams and reams of it.

      Saving the environment ????

      We have to carry on shouting louder and louder and as you say teaching our children the true way of life ;teach them to feel what is important in our world instead of feeling a big fat wallet full of banknotes.

      Voting up and sharing all around Billy.

      Have a great day,

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know, Mary. A savior? It doesn't fit me....I'd settle for the town crier, ringing the bell and shouting that trouble is coming, trouble is coming! :) Have soapbox will travel, that should be my tagline.

      Thank you my friend. I appreciate so much you always being here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, I can commit to shouting louder and more often....every voice helps, right? Writers throughout history have been the storytellers, the voices against injustice and the echos of truths forgotten....I'm proud to be of that heritage.

      Thank you my friend and I hope your day has been a good one.

      billy

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Beautiful piece, Bill. It is so sad what we are doing to our land. I'm thankful for the preserves that have been deemed untouchable by man and development. In fact, little by little, more of our land is being protected. It can't happen soon enough, however. In my neck of the woods, I'm pleased to see parks being built instead of parking lots. It's a small step, but it's a step I love to see. I'll be back to watch the documentary. Right now, I've got to work on earning my keep.

      This is a beautiful article to start the week, Bill. I've never been to Yellowstone, but I have been to the Everglades. So peaceful....

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Love your last quote and your observation that the wiser people "took only what was needed to survive, always replenishing it so that the harvests would come again and again." With this attitude life is so much simpler and we would be so much richer in the true sense of the word. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Wow, wouldn't you have loved to have been part of those early settlers? I would, seeing all the new virgin beauty every step of the way can only be imagined with awe. We are so lucky to have the magnificent parks and reserves that we do. I cannot imagine what it would be like if it continues as it is. We would live like sardine cans in a trash dump. Thanks for your usual food for thought! ^

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I see it too....very slowly I see signs that people want to save the Earth, and set aside more and more land to preserve....and it can't happen too soon my friend.

      Thanks for the kind words. Now we both need to get to work earning our keep. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, always, Dora! Let's hope that more and more people see the wisdom in saving what we have. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie...sardines in a trash dump! Now there is a lovely thought, but one that is all too accurate if we continue our destructive and wasteful ways.

      I would have been one of the settlers on the Oregon Trail. I just know I would have been...there is something inside of me that keeps me looking for the next horizon.

      Thank you, Jackie, and I hope you are having a great day in the Beautiful South.

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 3 years ago from California

      I had no idea that you can still see the Oregon trial and the names of the people on the rocks. I will have to do some more travelling!

      Trying to live in this material world gives me a lot of grief. I know that materialism isn't sustainable, nor even natural to humanity. We can't all go back to living in mud huts, nor can we continue at this destructive rate. At this point, technology can't be stopped. If we retreated, then our enemies would take advantage of us.

      Even those who choose to live off grid, many even here on HubPages, make their income off of the advertisements of materialism. There is no solution, except for every person to make wise choices, use renewable energy sources, not be wasteful, and try to use items that are recyclable. We will never reach utopia, but maybe we can preserve a little piece of unspoiled land for posterity.

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      lovedoctor926 3 years ago

      Lovely image of the Hayden Valley as well as the rest of the photos. I love the title of this hub as well as the quote in the beginning. A beautiful and meaningful piece. voted up!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      There is so much to respond to here...we can only do as much as we can one person at a time and pray that enough 'one persons' care enough to preserve our land.

      Loving this amazing land is part of what is in my soul...we have so much to embrace and care for ...

      thank you once again for being a voice in the wilderness .....shouting out so that all of us will listen and act....many hugs and Angels are on the way ps

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I always think of something similar where I live- right off of a preserve. When I first moved here- there were coyotes all over. A nuisance to some, perhaps, but it is their land. I used to hear them at night and encounter them on my walks. The beauty of the preserve has been altered. Now, since there are so many houses being built, a coyote sighting is rare. The part you wrote about "knowing that a price could never be paid for peace of mind and balance of heart and soul" is so true. This was an awesome hub all around.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Availiasvision, very true words. There is no Utopia and there never will be. As you say, it simply is not practical to drop out and live off the grid...most people simply cannot do it...but we do have to start making better choices or our problems have just begun.

      Yes indeed my friend, the Oregon wagon ruts are still there to see. I hope you get a chance some day to see them.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Marlene. I always appreciate you taking the time to read my hubs. Blessings to you always my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ah, PS...if there is no one around to hear, does the voice in the wilderness make a sound? :)

      There are days when I'm convinced no sound is heard at all my friend.

      But we keep hoping, right?

      Blessings and a hug of thanks coming your way

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, I love the sound of coyotes....and don't hear them anymore around here. Change is in the air and it is not necessarily a good thing. :) Thank you for stopping by; you are always appreciated.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      This is a great message Bill. While I love our National Parks it is sad that we don't treat the rest of this planet with the same regard. I don't have any of the answers but awareness and education is the key I believe.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

      well said, Bill

      Such wise words with depth and enlightenment!

      I have heard people say that they should visit Alaska soon since that nature will not be seen...I utter that if we are aware that it won't last for long...then we ought to take measures to protect it!!

      sharing these prudent words acrosS!

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

      I just hate the thought of us destroying nature. Great hub with an important message, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I believe you are right; if not then there is no hope my friend.

      Thank you and have a great week.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruchira, those words, that it won't last for long, are scary and possible. Let's hope humanity wisens up before then my friend.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Gail; I appreciate you stopping by.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 3 years ago from Arizona

      As always you express yourself so well and yet simply enough to understand. We all question our lives in different ways. Thanks for writing this as it is always a wakeup call to stay in touch with our roots and living.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Beautiful Bill, just beautiful.

      What glorious majesty here in these photos you have presented. Yes, I am afraid greed has taken over our planet and we must enjoy it while we are able before the beauty of His lovely creation continues to be treated like a garbage dump.

      Wow, that Lake of the Holy Spirit looks amazing and I love its name!

      I wish I was able to travel to such beautiful places before I leave this planet. I believe God placed a little bit of Heaven all over this planet, just to give us a taste.

      Hugs and love,

      Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Carol. This type of writing is where I find my true joy...I just wish I could make some money while I do it. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, thank you dear lady....Lake of the Holy Spirit was the Indian name for the Everglades. I've never been there either but would love to see it one day.

      In the meantime, as you say, there is beauty everywhere if one's eyes are accepting, and mine are.

      blessings always my friend

      bill

    • Abby Campbell profile image

      Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I so love nature, Bill. This is why I go hiking on the weekends. The forest, woods, rocks, hills, and mountainside all make me wonder who may have walked in my path from the ancient of days. I often wonder what type of people they were and what they would think of our society today. Would they be happy... would they be flabbergasted... would they be disgusted? Then I reach the top of the mountain and look out at all the land, nature's wild berries, the beautiful sky, and the birds flying. There's such a peace there... as if I'm really one with God. Thank you for such a beautiful hub tonight. I appreciate you and your writing so!

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 3 years ago

      Bill, this write has deeply touched my heart. The truth can be

      undeniably sad. The history of mankind has carved deep wounds; man against man, man against nature.

      You have addressed many issues in a most profound read.

      Thank you for speaking on behalf of serious environmental issues. This really is your forte, and you gave us a great piece of work.

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Abby, what a beautiful comment. My heart has hope when I read words like yours. What would our ancestors think? I truly don't know, but I do know they had a hand in the beginning stages of the destruction. Nobody get a free ride on the blame game for what we see today....but some of us at least understand that and are taking steps to lessen the damage, and that is a positive for sure.

      Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, this is the type of writing that feeds my writer's soul; I just have to figure out how to make a living doing this. :) Everyone enjoys it but nobody is willing to pay for it. LOL

      Seriously, thank you! I am heartened by your words and very grateful.

      bill

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I really enjoy your hubs when you write about saving the universe and how it used to be before man became greedy. I have a feeling you will make money doing this, you just have to find the place and i believe you will. Keep on writing. I am grateful. Thank you..

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 3 years ago from San Francisco

      How inspirational! One of my "footprints" is Stepping Stones in Reading. A successful reading program for middle school.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is beautiful, Bill. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about a very important topic.

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      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      Bill I love the way you described everything so true. I felt I shrunk and was walking in the midst of the environment. Great words! You always leave the cherry for the end. I love to take it with me: "...continue following the footprints of time, but those footprints are now faded, and some are now lost forever, and the stragglers cannot seem to find their way….

      And yet the roadmap is in their souls and the trail has always been etched in their hearts."

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby, and I really appreciate your faith in my writing. I'll keep looking for that one site that can't live without my writing. :) Have a great day!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin, I love it....what a great legacy you have established.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia....I'll take beautiful as a comment any old day. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria, thank you so much. I try to leave something memorable in each article like this one. I'm glad I succeeded.

      blessings always

      bill

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      livingsta 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      Beautiful Bill and thank you for sharing this with us. This is a very important issue that needs to be thought about and taken action to.

      I am sharing this!

      Smiles and blessings :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dahlia, thank you so much, and I agree that this issue needs to be acted upon by all of us.

      blessings my friend

      bill

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      drbj and sherry 3 years ago from south Florida

      Another powerful and inspiring message, Bill, for the rest of us to take to heart. We must conserve our God-given resources before they disappear as victims of rapacious greed.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, we can only hope that more come to that realization. Thank you so much for always being here.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      You always find a way to get important messages through.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You know how much I agree with all of this. Oh, the memories that I hold so dear from Maine, the beautiful life at Boomer Lake that never stands still, as well as the countless adventures that I have had through volunteer work. My wealth is preserved through those hallowed haunts of priceless decades, never to be removed from the hallowed crevasse of my impenetrable soul.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I try, vkwok...I try. :) Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, that was written like a poet and beautifully I might add. :) Thank you!

    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

      I believe nature is losing the tug of war...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I'm afraid you are right....I hope you aren't, but I suspect the tide has turned. :)

      Thanks for stopping by on this Sunday.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      I have been camping and thus escaping the technology tainted world you are talking about. I have now finally got to your pages to see what I have been missing and this Mr Holland made the wait worthwhile!

      Your country looks beautiful. The issue you are addressing is so important and one I believe in right to my soul. You have encapsulated the message perfectly and you have cleverly seeped deep emotion covertly into the lines of a very professional sounding prose.

      Our shallow world is in danger of losing the things it can't replace.

      This was written beautifully and your passion for the cause resounds in every single world.

      Anna

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, I hope you found something you needed while camping. I thank you for your kind words.....nature, I guess, brings out the best in me. I do feel something special when I write about causes; that seems to be where my heart is.

      bill

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      I just love being outside when camping and all the sights and sounds.

      My last word in my last comment should have been 'word.'

      Anna :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, the peacefulness of the very early morning is my favorite time...right at dawn....pure heaven my friend.

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      dreamseeker2 3 years ago

      I like your take on things. Of what goes on in your mind. Very wise and thoughtful. : ) Found this article interesting and voted it up!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you dreamseeker....it's an interesting place, the inside of my mind. LOL

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