Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Garden Cone Flower, Jamestown, NC

“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up.
Because if you pick it up it dies
and it ceases to be what you love.
So if you love a flower, let it be.
Love is not about possession.
It is about appreciation”.

Years ago my wife Karen and I were hiking in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness of the White River National Forest near Aspen, Colorado. We had been there before and I’ve often said that if God had been asked to design and build a cathedral, it would have been here nestled among the twin maroon colored peaks surrounding a clear blue mountain lake in a glacial valley of wildflowers. The area is reputed to be the most photographed spot in colorful Colorado. I had my trusty Nikon with me loaded with my favorite slide film. I really like the digital camera I use now, however.

We had happened along a fallen pine tree near the most beautiful wild mushrooms growing in the decaying forest floor near the trail. I paused to gather my gear and photograph the image. Fortunately, I was able to capture a few moments in time before a family of four rounded the trail and approached us. The two small children noticed that we were admiring the colorful mushrooms, walked over to us unattended, reached down and pulled them out of the ground. I just stood there aghast as the parents praised them for finding such wonderful things and they casually continued up the trail.

As the family moved almost out of hearing range, I commented to Karen that it was a good thing no one else wanted to enjoy the beauty of those mushrooms. It’s never a very good idea to tell other parents how to raise their kids, but they had blown a teachable moment. And then as we later rested near the public parking lot we noticed the family piling into their van close to a park ranger sign that read “Take only memories, leave only foot prints”. I hope the parents at least read the sign on their way out, since it was apparent they had missed it on the way in.

That incident has stayed with me for all these years, possibly because it plainly illustrated the need to teach our children about being considerate of one another and the world around us. Sadly, the main memory I took from that hike wasn’t of the beautiful wild mushrooms in a national forest, but the callous lesson that those parents defaulted to their children. I now generally enjoy the flowers in my garden all the way through their life cycle with few exceptions. And there’s one particular Native American Indian Proverb that has always been one of my favorite quotes regarding our environment:

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children”.

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