Some Say Tomato and Some Say "Mater"
My dad taught me a lot about “horse sense”, about the basics of life. By “basics”, I mean the common sense that all of God’s creatures are born with. Growing up in the 20’s and 30’s on a farm just outside of Linn, Missouri, he learned a lot about how nature works and about how to read nature’s signs of things to come. He passed a lot of that information down to me, and I wish I could have retained more than what I remembered.
Henry David Thoreau once said “Never does Nature say one thing and Wisdom another.” What Thoreau was saying was in a sense, volumes. Nature will never go against the natural scheme of things. Nature will never do what is unwise. She will protect herself at all costs. The simple lessons I learned from my dad were important lessons that may have seemed like foolish crap to my kids when they were young, but make a lot of sense now in their adult lives.
I’m sure that you all know the simple things about predicting rain, like the appearance of cirrus clouds two or three days before it comes. It is these clouds that create a ring around the sun and moon, which some old timers say is an indicator of precipitation. But did you know that cows will lie down before a storm? Did you know that the best time to fish is during an approaching storm? When fireflies are close to the ground in the evening, rain is on the way. The “bluer” their light is, the heavier the rain will be. When crawfish make muddy burrows high above the water’s edge, rain is coming; the higher the burrow, the heavier the rain. Watch the snails and slugs. If they climb up the outside walls of your house, there is a chance of rain soon (unless you have an automatic sprinkling system).
Did you know that if you are unwittingly exposed to poison ivy, you can save yourself from the many days long agony of an annoying rash? There is another plant which resembles an orchid leaf that usually grows within the proximity of most poison ivy. It is called “planton”. Once you have realized that you have been exposed, you find this plant and pluck one or two leaves from it. You crush the leaves between your fingers and rub the juices on the afflicted area. The juices from the planton will neutralize the oils from the poison ivy and you will be spared the discomfort.
On the west coast, sudden strange behavior among animals is a quick indicator that an earthquake is looming, but you only have a few minutes of warning to take cover. It is a shame that more people aren’t more aware of their natural surroundings like animal behavior, a slight wind change, a sudden temperature drop or even the joint pain that some people experience when the atmospheric pressure drops. Watching the ants and bees will warn you of a harsh winter ahead or a hot dry summer.
The bees are an important key to life on our planet. Decades ago, AlbertEinstein noticed that the bee populations were slowly dwindling. He showed us all with a simple statement how the potential extinction of the honeybee could lead to the demise of our planet:
"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."
The bees are wonderful creatures. They belong to the order hymenoptera, the “social insects”. Hymenoptera includes all ants, bees and wasps. These insects tend to live in colonies and they all work together as a team for the common good of the colony. Sadly though, the bee populations are quickly disappearing. It is a premonition of things to come.
I took my family up to AmicalolaFalls for a Labor Day picnic. There were a lot of people there, and a lot of the people were disregarding the park’s rules by running off of the beaten path to tromp through the woods and play along the creek. What can you do? People are going to get curious. Some young girls of Jr. High age were playing in the creek below the falls about 100 feet from the trail. One girl sat on a rock and let her feet dangle in the cool water. Soon a snake came out from under the rock and they panicked, running back to the trail, falling and hurting themselves on the rocks. As harmless as the snake may or may not have been, this illustrates that there are many more reasons than the wildlife why the rules need to be obeyed in these wilderness parks.
While I was at the visitor’s center, I was amazed at the protected flower pollination area. There was a large variety of flowers and there were hundreds of bumblebees flitting around from blossom to blossom. I spent several minutes photographing them. I was lost in the moment as I took picture after picture of a small group of bees. Then my solace was shattered by a stupidly careless redneck moron that was hacking at the flowers with his hand and hat.
“Ah jes’ wanna kill me sum o’ these damn bees!” he shouted to his wife. I stood back in dumbfounded awe. One of the bees that I had just photographed was on the ground struggling in confusion as this dumb oaf stomped on it. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he was encouraging his kids to do the same.
“What kind of a moron are you?” I asked him. “Why are you doing that?”
“Huh!” he laughed, “Ah’m jes’ killin’ some damn bees is all! They’s all smashed on th’ ground like ‘maters!” I looked over to the Park Ranger a few feet away whose interest was already piqued and I pointed this idiot out to him. He was writing him a citation as I left. I felt vindicated, but not just because he was a redneck idiot, but for the sake of the bees. You can call it silly, I don’t.
We all have to be more aware of the natural scheme of things. Progress will go on; there is nothing we can do about that. Rain forests will die, oil will spill, and humans will make this earth worse before we can make it better. If we each took care of our own little niche, our own spaces, our own yards or property, it will help the cause on a bigger scale. Everything has a purpose on this planet. No matter how annoying flies are, or how poisonous a snake might be, they have a purpose. Don’t kill them, relocate them. Remove the source of attraction, but don’t kill them. In the long run, you are only killing yourself.