Several years ago, after I discovered the feature Weeping Willow I’d bought my house for was actually dead, I made the decision to allow the tree to naturally decompose and feed my garden. Little did I know almost twenty years later my neighbour, who needs to stand on a fence to look over into my yard, would have such a problem with the tree decomposing they would actually phone Bylaw to investigate – but that’s another story and I’m not sure how it’s going to end. All I know is I grew up in a time when supporting and giving back to Mother Nature through natural decomposition was as normal as automatically taking my next breath. As a gardener, I never thought about it, I just did it. Now a days it’s quite normal for gardeners to have several compost piles in their back yard, taking care of weeds has nothing to do with grabbing a harsh chemical and there is great pride in controlling undesirable vermin through natural and ‘green’ choices that don’t hurt the environment. Needless to say, as the weekly garbage collection is now collected twice a month, it has me thinking about the choices I make to have less of an impact on the way me and my family affect the earth. I am trying to leave a small footprint so I don’t hurt the earth. But, more importantly, I don’t want to hurt me or my family by making careless choices with harsh chemicals either.
Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the way we treat one another. Somewhere along the way, it feels like we have forgotten how to be kind to one another and to treat each other with respect. I’ve tried to teach my children to treat others as they wish to be treated, if for no other reason that we actually reap what we sew. If you give kindness, you will receive kindness. And if someone treats you harshly, be kind anyway as you don’t know what kind of day the other person is experiencing. This may appear to be a small footprint that might not seem like it makes a big impact but you would be surprised how a smile or kind word can soften the growl or frown another person may carelessly cast your way. The way we rudely disrespect one another may be a part of Canadian culture toward Aboriginal people. I say that because of people like Tommy Prince. For those of you who may not know, Prince was one of the most decorated war heroes of the Korean and Second World War. For his service he won the Military Medal and the United States bestowed the Silver Star to him, the very highest honour he could receive. When Mr. Prince passed away, he was homeless and addictions were his constant companions because everyone else seemed to have forgotten him. I watched a documentary called Forgotten Soldiers and I learned that First Nations soldiers returned home to Canada expecting to receive land and houses, as their non-Aboriginal comrades did when returning from the war. Instead, the Indian Agent paid a visit to confirm their identity. The former soldier would provide proof of identity that confirmed they were a First Nations person and they would then be informed they’d have to leave their home, they were no longer considered First Nations (because a FN person was not allowed to own a home according to Canadian law) and, from that point forward they were now considered a non- status Indian. They were no longer recognized as a Registered Indian under the Indian Act of Canada.
Aboriginal people living in Northern Canada had a similar story of unkindness paid to them. Upon their birth, rather than Inuit people being afforded the human right of naming their child, based upon tradition and their family name, a number was assigned to them through the federal government. All documentation sent to the individual used a number, rather than a name, to identify the person. If you search on Google images you can see examples of these numbers, which really look like nothing more than really cheap dog tags. With our most recent Federal election, I see people treating one another with such a low regard I am having a hard time coming to terms with the values I am trying to instill in my children. I don’t want them to be bullied, or seen as ‘less than’, simply because they are kind and genuinely wish to help others through a smile, a helping hand or simply using “please” and “thank you” when speaking to others. The small gestures we make today, really have a far reaching and long term effect for tomorrow.
With that being said, a new blanket of snow has swept over the footprints of my little ones when they were playing in the front yard. I am delighted to see bird foot prints, small animal prints of the four legged variety and the rambling footsteps of a raven, which seem to visit our yard daily. I enjoy being able to witness the visits nature has paid to my door step and my front yard. It makes me happy to know that when they dig in the snow, foraging, whatever they find will be clean and chemical free. And I also appreciate the conscious decisions I’ve made to make as little impact on the environment I live in means I can be further inspired by the animals that will visit the ecosystem I am working hard to build so that the earth, and my family, will benefit far into the future. Despite how little my neighbours may appreciate my efforts, I will continue to smile, wave and extend kindness to them and hope that, when they do have a problem with me they feel free to approach me and continue to build positive relationships with me. And if that isn’t their choice, I still wish them well as I continue to approach life with a positive outlook, hoping to leave as little negative impact as I possibly can. As you consider your own impact that you’re leaving I hope your footprints leave little impression and have far reaching positive results. Reap what you sew!
Have a great week, everyone.