A World Below
In the dark rich earth there is a world that often gets overlooked, trodden down, and covered up.
On an early Spring weekend in Portland, I had the good fortune of fine weather to begin excavating the backyard on a piece of dirt that will make a fine garden. Covered in leaves, weeds, and crab grass, what was once an ordered and tended plot of land had been turned by the hands of time into a neglected space. Nature was reclaiming that which no longer held human attention, and rightly so.
With trowel, spade, shovel, and rake the work of uncovering began. With machines powered by dinosaur remains, edges were drawn and a patch of earth was tilled. Across this not-so-vast territory it is easy to observe small animals - birds, squirrels, an occasional cat, and the lion/fox/bear/sometimes-dog Mack traverse and explore. But unless you dig down, and pay attention to what comes up, you would never see the entrance to the world below. Spiders, slugs, snails, worms, and ants infuse the soil. They create their own highways and byways, establishing an ancient symbiosis with the roots and the plants that grow out of the earth. Harder to see but just as important are the relationships of fungi with the rhizosphere root networks that inform the ecosystem from the ground up.
It is beautifully simple and wonderfully complex at the same time: everything is connected.
Taking account of how much life exists in some handfuls of dirt was a great reminder about how woven the wellbeing of the water, the soil, and the inhabitants of earth are. Spending time with the soil made it clear to me that it is not possible to spray chemicals of any kind, especially those that kill “weeds” without devastating consequences to the entire chain. One telling example worth mentioning is the decline of the western Monarch butterfly, whose population has been estimated to be 99% reduced since the 1980s.
BJ Palmer, the developer of chiropractic, made note of the potential for impact we can have with our thoughts, words, and actions. I intend to use mine well.