This Valentine’s Day, BTLT is acknowledging our greatest love: the land. The shores where we paddle, the trails that we walk, the soil that gives us food, the trees that provide us shade, the landscapes that connect us to the earth and to one another.
We know we’re not alone! We feel so grateful to be surrounded by a community of individuals, organizations, businesses, and families that truly love, respect, and appreciate the land. And we want to hear from you! So tell us why you love the land, or something specific about nature – could be a photo, a poem, a short story, however you’d like to express yourself.
Please email lydia(at)btlt.org with your expression of love for the land, with the subject title “BTLT Love the Land” – we’ll be compiling them onto this blog post to share with our community! It can be anonymous if you do not wish to share your name.
More of a social media person? Post your expression and tag us #BTLTLoveTheLand.
I give thanks to my gardens and the soil, sun, and rain that helped everything to grow. I am honored by all these gardens gave me – the endless bounty of tomatoes, the supply of squash, the beautiful peppers, and the most stunning beans I have ever seen. With the growing season over, I find myself missing watching leaves sprout, listening to their quiet rustle in the wind, and the calm of tending to these plants. They have given me such joy and I await the warm days of spring when the soil will soften and allow me to dig my hands into the land and grow again.
Connecting Outdoors: A Nature Haiku
Winters can be tough.
Blue skies and dogs: all you need.
What a space to make new friends.
The Peace of Wild Things
Poem by Wendell Berry – selected & shared by Doug Bennett
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
“I love the opportunities (not every year, nor for long periods) that the bay ices up enough to venture out on it with skis or snowshoes. We got 5 outings this year…so far!”
This photo was taken just off the Maquoit Preserve.
A Poem from the Past
Sing to the mountain songs of joy,
Of gentle rain upon the boy,
Who in the half-light morn partakes
Of calm and quiet on the lakes.
And thinks not of his friends, the fools,
Who strive for wealth and etiquette
And leave all beauty nicely set
Upon some shelf, where at will
They take it out, their souls to fill
With false ornation of the hour
That cannot equal lake or bower.
“While many of us think of November as turning everything gray there are other possibilities. If one simply observes what may be at their feet one can see the vibrant green and red of Partridge berry (which will keep their colors throughout the winter) and in this patch there is a late-emerging yellow mushroom (a yellow-disc waxy-cap). Focusing on a small field of view can often be as rewarding as enjoying a dramatic distance vista.”
This photo was taken along the banks of the Cathance River in the Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham, where BTLT holds the conservation easement.
I am Jackson’s nose
in love with sorting
the thin air
its strands little
banners of announcement
to be trailed
or shunned, they
are so many we could go
anywhere – that was
how it seemed
at first. Then
over what seemed people-years
we played find
the human an easy package
that somehow still goes
missing but here
in this thicket he
”Good boy, Jackson
is such a goood boy.” Yes,
yes I am. Jackson
wants a treat.
Even in the depths of winter, the gradually lengthening days remind me that a joyful reunion with these beloved old friends along the trails at Crystal Spring Farm is not far off.
Why I Love the Land
When I go on long walks in the outdoors, I of course take my first aid kit.
But the outdoors — the woods, waters, air, rain, snow, terrain, critters — have always been my real first aid kit. The first aid kit I rely on to alleviate the anxieties of real life.
Long walks in the outdoors teach me self reliance. They teach me to get by with minimal “stuff.” They teach me there is more than one way to do things, and they teach me that I can be mistaken, and still get by. They teach me that discomfort is not fatal. I won’t actually melt from getting soaking wet. The cold may be uncomfortable, but I can absorb a lot of it, and still be alive and well.
On the other hand, the outdoors also teaches me there is a balance, and not to be too arrogant or self-confident. Prudence in the face of adversity is welcome. Fear in the face of unknowns is healthy. It forces me to consider more deeply the challenges and obstacles. Can I really do this? Is the goal really worth the risk? Do I have reliable partners? Can we do this together?
In the outdoors I have learned to appreciate nature at all levels. Green is very green in the spring. Snow is very white when the first big dump arrives in winter. The leaves are dramatic when Autumn arrives. When you are far from home, the dark is unbelievably dark, and the night sky is a miracle. But even at home, the lapping of waves, the patter of rain, the gurgle of streams, the wind passing through the leaves are all experiences I relish. Stop. Quiet your mind. Open your eyes. Listen. Smell. Feel.
The outdoors is a great teacher. One can learn to be curious, to maintain your spirit in adversity, to persevere in the face of difficulties, to appreciate a little bit of self-denial, and perhaps most of all, to be compassionate to others. Perhaps even to oneself.
Little Red Squirrel
He’s a gay little thing, so red and so bold.
He loves to sit there and chatter and scold.
He’s a little red squirrel and without a doubt,
He’s come around camp to get a handout.
Shy and timid he’s supposed to be.
But, you just sit here and wait and see.
In just a minute he’ll be over here,
Wanting me to scratch him behind the ear.
It took a little time and sitting around,
To get him to cross that bare piece of ground.
But I had the time and patience to show.
So, I sat back to see which way he would go.
He then did just what I hoped he would do
And to me it was a thing that was new.
To have a red squirrel eat from my hand
Gave me a feeling that really was grand.
From that time on there was little trouble.
His trips into camp from then became double.
He’d eat from my hand, enjoying it much.
And it all came about from a soft gentle touch.
Time and patience are all they demand,
For all God’s creatures that inhabit the land,
To gain a small measure of trusting in you.
But here are some things that you first must do.
You must show them kindness. Be gentle and slow.
You must understand and treat them just so.
And if you will follow these few simple words
You’ll enjoy much more the beasts and the birds.
My Love for the Land
My love of the land was nourished and fed by a father and grandfather, both farmers who imprinted on me from the time I could walk that we only have the use of this land that defines our farms for a short while. It our responsibility to understand that land is along with water and air our most important natural resources. And to care for land in healthy ways that feeds our people, our wildlife, nourishes our forest and cares for life in all its forms is our goal.
There was a rather small wood lot at the back part of our farm with a stream that crisscrossed the grove of maple and oak. It seemed to me the most special place that summarized most of what Dad and Grandpa talked about. In the spring it was covered with early awaking of the soil coming to life with a wonderful array of flowers with color that invited you to come sit for awhile and just absorb the beauty of nature. As the spring moved into summer and the oak and maple were in full leaf the beauty of summer came front and center. And this patch of woods was an attraction to our herd of Guernsey cows as they found in the hot days of summer the coolness of the shade and the flowing steam to be just the right place to spend some time. And maybe most of all I remember this spot to be the place a Guernsey heifer given to me as a birthday present gave birth to her first calf. I remember well that day I knew she was due to calf and I went looking for her. There she was by the largest oak in the lot nursing her wet, wobbly legged calf to a good stat in life.
It was also the place that neighbor boys and I made a “sort of “ dam in the steam that crisscrossed the lot and made a place to swim, to enjoy all that nature brought our way with crayfish, the birds, and once in awhile a fox and occasional deer.
Dad constant message – “there is nothing more important than respecting our soil and understanding that its proper care is what sustains life.”