At 6 am I was standing in the tall, dew-covered grass in the low meadow south of the house. I love this spot near the babbling creek. The sun is up but has yet to rise over the ridge 300 yards to the east. Songbirds are singing all around me, and a Jack snipe winnows high above. His sky dance is a welcome event here each spring. He circles high above, dives and rises, his feathers humming with his descent. He marks his boundaries this way, while his mate guards their recently-hatched youngsters - fuzzy, downy creatures about the size of ping-pong balls. The young scurry along on toothpick legs, staying close to their mother as they search for worms and insects.
The Jack snipe is a small shore bird - about the size of a robin. They are most often seen in wet pastures and shallow marshes. They probe the wet mud for worms with their long beaks. If one should fly up in front of you, he will quickly fly away in a low zig-zag pattern, while calling, scape-scape, scape!
The snipe was only one of many bird songs. It seemed that every bird in the area was singing "good morning" to each other. Quite a cheery way to start the day.
The only one complaining on this beautiful morning was a red-tailed hawk who just recently fledged and was high up in a tree begging her parents to bring her some breakfast.
The busy chatter made the morning's chore a lot easier. Spade in hand, I was chopping down wild parsnips wherever I see them growing. This invasive plant with its bright yellow rosette of flowers may grow 4-5 feet tall, and biannually spreads its prolific seeds to reduce the diversity of the meadow.
Each June, I devote a couple of days to knocking back the wild parsnip population. I chop them off at the ground with the spade to prevent them from going to seed. It's a lot of work, but it's making a difference: I've cut the population in half.
I like to do this job in the early morning or late in the afternoon. If a flowering plant touches my skin while the sun is out, there is a good chance it will produce small blisters.
Some might wonder why I don't simply spray the intruder plants. The truth is, I am not one to use any unnatural chemicals where I live. Besides, dealing with this problem by hand gives me hours of being outside - a perfect opportunity to be where there is life all around me. Surely all of those sights, sounds, and scents will teach me something, help me to better understand what life is really all about.
This is why I believe in an organic lifestyle. It's a more personal way of living. You learn from the effort you put into giving yourself a healthy life.
We often think of organics only in terms of physical nourishment. In fact, the original message of organic was to find a more harmonious existence with Mother Earth.
In my lifetime I have seen entire landscapes changed by the use of chemical sprays. Once the diversity of the land had been reduced, the wildlife also has to adjust. Organics is about the whole picture, about co-existing in a healthy, productive environment.
In reality, no one should expect quick changes from incorporating organics into their lifestyle. The changes gradually come as we see how our lives get better, both mentally and physically. Through organics we have the opportunity to give back to the earth.
Ask yourself the question, "What did I learn today to help make my life better?" The answer can always be found on nature's trail.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley