Advice / Monday Mantras

Monday Mantra: One Acorn


The Creation of a thousand forests...

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Okay , that’s not exactly what I mean, but it’s memorable. And the idea that something big and important can come from something small and unassuming is essential.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said it: “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2015 “The Year of Soils” to “raise awareness of why soils are important for food security and the ecosystem.”

A corner of our “lawn” is planted with a “tapestry” of low growing mint, thyme, camomile, daisies, alyssum, scarlet clover, violets, and other low growing wild flowers. We don’t water it, we don’t treat it, and just before it’s mowed every two weeks it looks like a jewelry box. By mistake in early May a package of kale seed was scattered on the soil. If I time it right I’ll snip a healthy batch of micro kale before the yard guys come – can hardly wait to see what the patch looks like when it’s a year or two old.

The rest of the lawn is a mix of clover, a variety of hardy grasses, Queen Anne’s Lace, and some dandelions. Four years ago it was monotone carpet of sod. Then nature happened. Recently I explained our organic low maintenance effort to a guy seated next to me on a plane. “Yep, but how does it look?” Not like a putting green or fairway, or even a rough, but it does look natural, and over the summer I’ve embraced it’s beauty, friendliness, and fragrance. Plus it’s an excellent filter for the rain and snow melt that travels into the ocean, and organic host to birds and insects that are a reflection of the health of our ecosystem.

There are local movements to restrict the use of pesticides and herbicides in coastal Maine:
1. Ogunquit was first, banning the use of pesticides.
2. South Portland’s initiative, “Bees, Bay, and Back Yards” offers small (lawn) signs indicating yards that don’t use pesticides and herbicides.
3. Falmouth’s initiative “Give a Clam” is hosting it’s first informational meeting at the Falmouth Library on August 13th featuring a presentation by The Friends of Casco Bay’s Mary Cerullo.
 These towns remind me of Emerson’s “acorns.” From their efforts perhaps a “forest” of eco-friendly public and private spaces will grow. Healthy humble soil is our essential foundation.

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