“…My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.”
San Bruno Mountain is an ecological oasis in South San Francisco. One that is in constant danger of being developed. (photo credit here, along with more gorgeousness.)
So…does this ever happen to you? Let’s say I’m at a big chain store (helloooo Target), or another heavily frequented spot…like an airport. I start looking at all the people…all the clothes they have on, the bags they are carrying, their sunglasses, their shoes. Then I look at all the goods on the shelves, the plastic wrapping and the contents inside. I notice the surrounding objects, all the cars parked in the lot, the garbage can overflowing with one use coffee cups, the dumpster being circled by gulls. Suddenly, what surrounds me multiplies exponentially, as I think of ALL the Targets or ALL the Safeways all over the world. Like an infinity mirror, I recede inside the magnitude as each person buys stuff, uses stuff, disposes of stuff. Stuff already made, stuff in the process of being made, and the resources it takes to make, deliver, and dispose of all that stuff. The people, the trash, the WASTE.
There are 360 degree views from the top. This one looks east, over 101 and the bay.
I used to have a friend who would get panic attacks at the airport. She would look at the hundreds of people coming and going and think of how each person lived somewhere, in a home with furniture. She would imagine all the furniture in the world and become overwhelmed with its impact on our shared ecosystem. More than any landfill could handle, bigger than any recycling facility…each person owning and consuming more. It would lead her right to the edge of the apocalyptic cliff.
This one looks at the type of development that threatens the mountain.
I had a conversation with Jeff about this during our recent, soul sucking drive down Interstate 5 over the holidays. He said, “It is yet to be determined whether or not the human species is one that can be sustained. And I think we’re about to find out, one way or another.”.
All of this has been rattling around inside me for the past month or so, dust kicked up by the consumption frenzy of the holidays. And then, I came across this article last week. Perhaps you read it too? About how a “great silence” is descending over the natural world, while at the same time, the garbage of noise from humanity is increasing? Bernie Kraus, who has spent 40 years recording the voice of nature, reports that areas once teeming with the sound of biodiversity are now silent vacuums of monoculture.
San Bruno is home to three endangered species of butterfly, many of which were snoozing under lupin plants that our Mountain Watch guide pointed out. We called back to each other down the trail, “Lupin, don’t step on it”.
Talk about following trails that lead right to the cliff of doom. At one time in my life (like two years ago, ahem) I would have buckled under the weight of overwhelm and earth grief. These days, the sorrow is still acute, but since I’m not dragging around a shadow of denial, my response is fiery and charged. I take a deep breath and allow for my grief. I deem it a healthy reaction. Then I stare the horror straight in the eye and wonder, “Well then, how do I want to respond?”.
Areas are losing biodiversity because of development? Then it’s time for environmental restoration. Where to do restoration? Anywhere you love. For Fern and I (and Uncle Shane too!), it’s San Bruno Mountain. I read on some witchy blog recently, that all Druids need a close relationship to a mountain. At one time, I would have named Shasta or Lassen. After this weekend, I am claiming devotion to San Bruno. This is walking the talk of bioregional animism. Think local.
San Bruno Mountain Watch is doing native plantings all through January and into February. This was our little square patch for the morning. Bunch grasses, native fennel, gumplant, lupin…all tucked in with a prayer for each.
The timing was perfect for a Saturday morning. Meet at 10am, done by 12:30, with a (much relished by the three year old) break for snacks.
Speaking of three year olds, mine was a bit grumpy at first, until she found her purpose.
Stacker of pots.
It was such a satisfying experience. Gardening and planting is always good for my soul, and being in the company of other folks who care was a healing balm. As I wrote on my professional blog recently, “Anger often accompanies the sorrow that is felt in the face of our suffering planet, and anger demands action and action provides relief from helplessness.”. I wish I could provide the solution for it all. It’s what my heart desires. But, damnitalltohell, I can’t. So I’m taking it to the mountain, and plan on doing one hands on action at least once each month this year. We will also be volunteering again on the 19th and 26th of January.
Want to join us?
Through volunteering with Mountain Watch, I learned to gradually appreciate the local ecology. The more I learned about the mountain, like the Callippe Silverspot butterfly and the California golden violet that call the mountain home, the more I longed to understand and the more I wanted to do to help protect its ecological health. I became familiarized with native plants, learning to recognize the white fluffy seed heads of pearly everlasting so that I could collect them for the nursery. I made connections with dedicated community members whose warmth and kindness is what I believe to be one of the greatest strengths of Mountain Watch. For one of the first times in my life, I worked with people towards a common goal, not because our grades or our livelihoods depended on it, but because we simply cared about the well being of San Bruno Mountain.-Jenny Ta
For more information on San Bruno, as well as to check out their rad website, go to Mountain Watch.
P.S. For a short time I will be linking my professional blog to this one…I’m trying to keep my private life on the down-lo, and away from the google spiders. So if you’re interested, you can check it out and bookmark it for later. xo