By Coggin Heeringa, Interpretive Naturalist, Crossroads at Big Creek, Inc.
Ever since we at Crossroads found artifacts revealing that people had lived beside The Cove Estuary more than a thousand years ago, we have endeavored to learn how the Indigenous People lived. From the book “Braiding Sweetgrass,” we learn from Indigenous People how to live as we strive to “inspire environmental stewardship.”
On Thursday, February 1, at 6:00 p.m., as a part of the Door County Reads 2024, Crossroads at Big Creek is honored to join with the Sturgeon Bay Library and Write-On Door County to cohost the virtual presentation, “Robin Wall Kimmerer: Video and Virtual Q & A.”
We are grateful to the Sturgeon Bay Library for selecting “Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults, Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants” as this year’s Door County Reads book. We also are grateful that the organizers showed respect for the wisdom of Indigenous People by inviting speakers from various tribes to tell their own stories and share the teachings of their ancestors. And we are thrilled to cohost this year’s Author Talk.
Robin Wall Kimmerer is “a mother, scientist, decorated professor and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.” She has followed many paths of learning and has come to a crossroads of understanding. Next week, she will be joining “our” Crossroads community, for a live virtual discussion.
Kimmerer’s book demonstrates a land ethic based on the wisdom of generations of her ancestors, an ethic based on gratitude. She suggests that we can create a more sustainable environment by being reciprocal, by taking and using but also by giving back. And she encourages us to teach our children so future generations also will be good stewards.
She introduces the precepts of “the Honorable Harvest” – “to take only what one is given, to use it well, to be grateful for the gift and to reciprocate the gift.”
“An organism that is too greedy and takes too much without giving anything in return destroys what it needs for life.”
That last quote is not from “Braiding Sweetgrass,” though it could be.
It was written by the German forester, Peter Wohlleben. We will discuss his book, “The Hidden Life of Trees, How They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World,” this month at the Crossroads Book Club on Wednesday, January 24 at 10:00 a.m. The author makes the case that trees are social, and that they communicate and share their resources.
Kimmerer wrote, “There is now compelling evidence that our elders were right – trees are talking to one another.” And through fungal networks, they “appear to redistribute the wealth of carbohydrates from tree to tree … they weave a web of reciprocity, of giving and taking.”
Two books: one by an indigenous scientist, one by a German forester/naturalist, can change the way we think about nature and will indeed, inspire environmental stewardship.
Weather-permitting, folks can get in touch with nature by hiking, skiing, snowshoeing or kicksledding the trails among Crossroads trees and through the meadows.
When snow conditions permit, we groom the trails. On weekends, we offer our popular Ski-for-Free program. But know that conditions change rapidly, so please check our website for current conditions and the hours (which are subject to change) for Ski-For-Free.
Using the approach of gratitude for the environmental services provided by plants and animals, we probably should acknowledge the ancient corals and other marine organisms which, more than 400,000 years ago, excreted skeletons of calcium carbonate which formed the fossil bedrock on which we live.
Our weekly family program Science Saturday will be an Indoor Fossil Hunt. We can’t go to the beach or wade in Big Creek this time of year, but we can search for fossils in the rock walls and displays in the Collins Learning Center. Learn fossil-finding techniques and complete a simple craft. Each participating family will receive a free Door County Fossil pamphlet.