Nature needs plenty of miracles to survive human ‘progress’
Last evening, on my way home from Jessica’s Farmstand, a little green heron appeared on the side of the road. Intent on foraging for dinner, he was unconscious of oblivion just inches away as drivers raced home to their own meal. There was no chance of stopping to shepherd him to safety. When I looked back, he was gone.
Suddenly, all the losses I have experienced exploring natural Florida over the years seemed summed up in this one small bird. It was like a knife to the heart.
I turned up the music. To ease my way through traffic, I listen to the Brandenburg Concertos, near losses themselves. In 1721, Johann Sebastian Bach sent them to Christian Ludwig with hopes of securing himself a job. He never heard back. The concertos surfaced in 1734 after Ludwig’s death and were lost again until being finally being re-discovered and published in 1850, the centennial of Bach’s death. Since then they have enchanted generations of music lovers; they even were sent into outer space on the Voyager Golden Record as an example of the epitome of human endeavor.
A bird on the side of a road could never experience such a miracle.
On my way home, I pass piles of pines along Honore Road, felled to build more houses. Once trees were revered in the Florida landscape — longleaf and slash pines, oaks, cypress and dozens of other species. Native peoples sought refuge in the mangroves during hurricanes. Early settlers would make a pilgrimage to “grand” trees like the Sherman oak, following in the footsteps of indigenous peoples for whom that tree was sacred.
Now “my” trees along Honore Road — cooling in summer, always beautiful — will live on only in my memory.
Just when I am thinking that we are hanging onto this planet by a thread, a swallow-tailed kite wheels through the evening sky, assuring me that the beauty of natural Florida lives on.
Fran Palmeri is the author of Florida Lost and Found: Nature in the Changing Landscape, available on Amazon.