When Pam and her husband Mickey first saw the land that they now call home, it was a barren mass of twisted roots, industrial wheel tracks and bright orange clay. It was as though the earth was inflamed. Mankind had scraped bare the trees which covered the land and exposed the flesh of the planet to light, rain and wind. The whistling of the breeze in the tall pine leaves was gone, only orange dirt blowing in the wind, burning the skin like sandpaper and causing the eyes to itch and redden. And with the trees went the birds; now on a spring morning the land was silent instead of being alive with songs.
Time lapse showing the effect of clear cutting on Pam and Mickey's future property. (Google Time Lapse)
But, with time, sweat and probably plenty of tears too, Pam, Mickey and their two children Nate and McLain, brought the land back to life. They removed leftover timber, filled holes, moved rocks and eventually, planted clover and field grasses. To their eyes it must have been like watching a child change with age to maturity. Going from a small and helpless life, to a strong adult, shaped by love and wisdom. The land was changing.
They bought sheep, goats and alpacas, planted organic vegetables and fruit trees and instead of fighting the land, worked with it. Within a few years what had been a pine forest and then a wasteland, was now a meadow teeming with life.
With the field grasses and clover that Pam and Mickey planted, the soil was again covered. The red clay that washed in the summer rains and eroded the land was now held in place by a bright green carpet. And if you looked closely you'd see ladybugs, bees, katydids and crickets, dragon flies and butterflies, moths and caterpillars.
The birds were back too. Circling like ace pilots above the ground, Barn Swallows swooping low, then high in fast circles as they scooped up small flying insects rising from the fields. The grasses moving in the wind like ocean currents, curving and bending in a unison of green texture instead of blue reflectance.
There is an openness. A feeling of expanse and freedom when you are in a large field or meadow. As you walk along birds flush from the grass at knee level. Field birds, like Meadowlarks and Bobolinks roost along fence lines, singing a new selection of songs, so vastly different than their woodland counterparts.
Interspersed within the green are bright splashes of red from clovers, putting forth scent and color to attract pollinators.
In a field you can lay a large blanket onto the grass and enjoy lunch with family or friends. That is, until the ants find your crumbs.
And if you are alone, you can lay on your back and view the reeds of clover, Timothy and Bromegrass swaying above you. Watching those summertime cotton balls of moisture floating gently in and out of vision.
It's an unobstructed view of the heavens that not only is marvelous to watch during the day, but equally as enticing at night when sparkling stars glimmer through the atmosphere, many already expired, their light still traveling through space to our planet. And every once in awhile, like chalk on a black board, a shooting star will appear and then disappear.
When you sit in Pam and Mickey's field you appreciate what they have done. To envision a lush and fertile grassland when looking at a raw and damaged landscape is a true gift of the soul that many don't have. A developer would see many houses, splitting up the openness into neat half acre parcels with pristinely mowed centipede and bermuda grass lawns. The openness would be gone...and this time, the damage would not go away within a few years. In fact, it would grow as shopping centers, gas stations and highways carved fragmentation scars into the land. The entire chain that has been built from one element to another; from the grasses to the bugs, to the birds would be broken and the upwardly mobile families will have domesticated this part of the land and they will never know the openness that they are missing.
Imagine the openness...Pam and Mickey did.