Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
October 16, 2020
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” (Joni Mitchell)
Each fall, even the most nature-oblivious humans can’t help but notice — and sometimes marvel — as the leaves display their spectacular shades of ginger, auburn, gold, and crimson before fulfilling their role in the cycle of life. For most modern folks, this annual phase merely presages both the colder weather and the shopping day countdown that lurk in their not so distant future. But there’s so much more to be appreciated and protected if we’d only take a closer look. Here’s how the USDA Forest Service explains the annual leaf-falling phenomenon:
“Needles and leaves that fall are not wasted. They decompose and restock the soil with nutrients and make up part of the spongy humus layer of the forest floor that absorbs and holds rainfall. Fallen leaves also become food for numerous soil organisms vital to the forest ecosystem.”
The next time you’re outside, I suggest you take a good long look at the leaves that have changed color and are now breaking from trees and wafting slowly downward to finish their life’s mission… on the pavement. Imagine the shock those nutrient-laden vessels experience when they land not on sodden, inviting soil but instead on the unforgiving asphalt we all know and loathe.
To add insult to injury, many of today’s humans view these leaves in search of soil organisms as nothing more than a yearly nuisance — something to raked and bagged and lugged away as quickly as possible. To leave leaves in front of one’s house is to risk the scorn of neighbors (and perhaps a fine). Ironically, dealing with the leaves they don’t like can sometimes take city dwellers away from making a long drive to “the country” to gawk and gasp at the leaves they do like.
They travel there, of course, in automobiles and sport utility vehicles which necessitate the highways, parking lots, off-ramps, and paved roads that — by definition — devastate entire eco-systems and leave leaves no place to land except perhaps on your two-car driveway. Human hubris aside, this vicious cycle impacts more than just our leisure time.
As regular readers know, I could marshal boatloads of evidence to illustrate the social, economic, environmental, and spiritual costs of urban sprawl but Joni has boiled it all down to a simple question: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got 'til it’s gone?”
On that note, I’ll leave you with this reminder: It’s never too late to turn over a new leaf…
Mickey Z. can be found here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!