I live in a little shack that is currently parked in a hidden hollow in the woods. It is, for the most part a beautiful place surrounded by healthy trees, shrubs, birds and other mysterious creatures that skitter and poo but are rarely seen. Nearby I hear a small mountain river when the air is still and it is relatively quiet, which is frequent. It has been a great place to delve deeper into the naturalist writing and other creations that Rachael and I have taken up and it’s tempting to feel as if I’m isolated and shielded from the larger fray that is the current state of human civilization. This is, of course, an illusion; the electronic connections that bring our affirming voices together also bring in the less admirable voices that seem to get an inordinate share of the bandwidth. There is no “outside world”; we’re all in this together. The worst air pollution in the country daily spills upward form the Central Valley into my lungs and the pores of all the guiltless life around me. The resilient Big Trees above me are monitored for the adverse affects. Even the nighttime stars are no escape. When we were living in the sparsely inhabited Mojave the deep rich darkness of space was intruded on from two sides by the glow of urban lights. The collective emissions of our civilization have triggered a global, cascading succession of a scope we can scarcely fathom. If I were a dispassionate biologist, which I am not, this would be an exciting time to study the evolution and extinctions. No less real are the efforts to take these public spaces, the buffers for biological adaptation, space that I and millions of others rely on for spiritual nourishment, out of our shared possession and put them in the hands of a myopic few. Avarice and self-interest are having their day. It is necessary that common good and generosity, for all life, become empowered to supplant them.

            This metaphorical space we vagabonds have created is meant to acknowledge wonder and beauty, primarily of wild and natural things, but also in our relationship to them. It’s the basis of my compassion for all the living things around me for I know that social justice, ecological consciousness and a vision for the better ways in which we can live together are all intertwined, just as the critters and plants around my little home have sorted themselves out over millennia and will continue to re-negotiate new balances for millennia to come. Implicit in these endeavors is the awareness of the challenges, that there is no room to take anything for granted, and that following our hearts will be more fruitful than succumbing to our fears.

            Speaking of fears to overcome, I’ve found talking out loud to the empty universe can be surprisingly intimidating. We’re jumping into the audio realm and I’ve put together a few podcasts. So far it’s my voice, but as in all things Vagabond these are inherently collaborative and Rachael can take some credit for any success here and I’ll take the blame for any shortcomings. Our latest episode is here on our Nature Walk page and it goes back to tell a bit of how we hit the road. For us it’s a story that reminds us that it is not always easy, but that anything worthwhile rarely is.

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