written by

Drausin Wulsin

posted on

September 28, 2023


We feel like we live on islands, at times, but even islands are connected by surrounding rings of activity. Every organism that travels through our wetlands is in transit. Some stay longer than others, but all are in motion. They came from somewhere and are going somewhere. In the meantime, they stop for respite and nurture, adding to the richness of the ecosystem. 

Several weeks ago, another group of ecologists was here taking inventory of species on the property. I was talking to one astute young man for quite a while, and he finally said, look up. And there was an evening sky full of dragon flies. I had never seen so many at once. It was embarrassing not to have noticed them unprompted, but so much that is obvious is obscured by myopia. Nevertheless, it was quite a site to witness all those dragon flies darting around and bouncing from one one path of flight to another. I asked where they came from, and he explained they are migrating through. 

One doesn't think of dragon flies as being migratory, but some species are. The Green Darner spends the winter on our southern coasts and the Caribbean islands, reminding us that our connection with distant places is more intimate than we assume.

About two weeks ago, birds stopped coming to our bird feeders. Where did they go? They went south, to the Caribbean, to Central America, and to the Amazon in Brazil, Columbia, and Ecuador. 

Now that we have stopped mowing fields being reclaimed for wetlands, long dormant species are surfacing. This is Evening Primrose, coming of its own volition. What a beautiful surprise, heralding others to come, creating ever more abundant habitat for migrating birds, butterflies, bees, and insects. These are the long-distance travelers, while amphibians, mammals, and micro-organisms circulate more locally. But they are all dependent on the land and ecology of neighbors, reinforcing the vast web of connection throughout this continent, neighboring continents, and across the planet.

Marsh Marigold (Bidens aristosa) is racing into the most saturated areas of our new wetlands. Once trees become dominant they will recede, but in the meantime we have this glory to witness. And it is breathtaking, as are all of the changes we are observing upon this land. 

But as the migrating birds remind us, this property is a speck of sand upon the beach, it is a single star in the mighty Milky Way, it is a tiny strand in the web of the greater ecosystem. And to that end, we summon ourselves again to pay tribute to and to reconnect with our neighbors in the Amazon jungle and coastline, for without that ecosystem, ours collapses. 

Susan and I will be making our largest philanthropic contribution to Conservation International again this year and we invite you to join us. We favor its approach because it is ruthlessly strategic. It only invests in biological hotspots - where biodiversity is greatest and warrants most protection. This is typically in the tropics. 

An acre of land in the Midwest costs $10,000, while the same in the Amazon costs $1, with biodiversity being at least 3 times more. So, more benefit is obviously accrued investing money toward land that is inexpensive and biodiversity high than vice versa. 

My long-time friend, Steve Anderson, has organized a group of small business owners, called Force of Nature, of which I am one, to support Conservation International. The projects selected are similar to last year's, in that they support both indigenous peoples of the forest and maritime ecology.

Our donations this year will support the Noke Koi Indigenous Association of Brazil. This tribe is steward of 187,400 hectares of forest. Our support will help them install solar panels, access internet, employ GPS monitoring equipment, upgrade their boats, and advance marketing of their crafts.

Force of Nature donations will also go toward reestablishing mangrove forests along the coastline of Costa Rica. Mangrove forests store 10 times the about of carbon as terrestrial forests. Conservation International is working on restoring 300 hectares in Costa Rica, which includes advocating best-fishing and waste-management practices to protect this invaluable ecosystem.

Please join Susan and me in supporting this highly effective organization. We all wonder what we can do to stave off the crisis of our planet. Here is a concrete step, which will allow you to sleep at night. Call me for specifics on how to do so. 

Two weekends ago, my oldest friend from college, Tony and his wife, Wendy, came through for a visit. Son, Drausin, and grandson, Leo, also stumbled into town, and we had a great old time. Jacob Bartley gave us an in-depth tour of wetlands, in the middle of which we had a picnic lunch of smoked chicken salad, corn on the cob, cantaloupe, and homemade cookies.

On to more mundane matters.

Susan and I will be making a delivery to Madtree this Sunday from 10 - 11. This will be our last formal delivery, after 13 years of so doing. We keep extending the date of last delivery, because we hate to lose the connection with all of you. But we have to face the inevitable. And we won't lose connection, as we will stay in touch through newsletters. If you would like food through the fall, you are welcome to drive to the farm and we will have it for you. Send notice, so we can coordinate. We will leave the website open through December for such orders and pick-ups. 

We are accordingly going to close down the Grassroots website at the end of the year, but will expand our Red Stone website so it is more interactive. I will then be sending newsletters through it and will apprise you more closely of this transition in December.

We are also hoping to publish more books. We are working on a cookbook of Susan's prepared foods and I have three different volumes of the Farmer's Almanac to release. We have run into a problem, however, with printing our high-resolution colored pictures in the Almanacs. Apparently the current high demand for paper and cardboard has made the same paper we used in the first volume now unavailable. So, we are looking for Plan B, and think we have finally found an acceptable solution.

We have a farm tour scheduled for Saturday the 7th at 2:00. If you would like to join us, please send confirmation.

Last, we thank you for all that you are. For being customers for so long, for becoming friends and enhancing our lives, for caring about good food, for caring about the land, for supporting worthy causes, and for being you. The world is better because of you. It is our privilege to be connected to your journey.

We send love in reconnection.


More from the blog

Sacred Place

It is a privilege to know a sacred place, as I feel I do. In some ways, it seems sacred places are supposed to be scarce and remote, like Stonehenge, Chartres Cathedral, the Taj Mahal, or abandoned Pueblo dwellings. Large landscapes, like the desert, ocean, or mountain ranges feel imbued with the divine. Alaska, the Amazon, and the Serengeti invite a sense of awe. One travels to such places, in pilgrimage. And sometimes such places reorganize the pilgrim's sense of order, inviting disorder or change, that can be both painful and uplifting.

Big Muddy

Here is the Lower Mississippi River, 45 feet below normal pool. Over Thanksgiving, Susan and I shoehorned ourselves onto a cruise ship to learn about the lower Mississippi and its bayou. We started in Memphis and ended up in New Orleans, with stops along the way to explore river towns. This river is the third longest on the planet, providing drainage to 40% of North America. It has historically deposited silt yearly in its floodplains, producing topsoil 120 feet deep, making these soils some of the richest in the world. Vast wetland forests grew beside its banks, of cypress, oaks, and sycamores, populated by a rich array of black bears, deer, bobcats, alligators, and aquatic life. This was the legendary bayou.

Streams & Souls

Streams and souls seem to share character. They are life-giving, they are coveted, they can be impeded, they can be channelized, they can be overwhelmed, they flood, they dry up, they flow downhill, they are a force of both change and constancy, they lie at the center of a community, they will not be denied, and because of this great complexity, they attract periodic resistance. So, it seems that streams may serve as a metaphor for the journey of the soul.