On a variable day where the sun played hide and seek among the clouds, I visited the Falls of the Ohio to see what there was to see and experience. Thus far, Spring is shaping up to be much warmer than normal and many different plants in the city where I live have flowered early. I was curious to see if this pattern was holding true with the trees out by the river? Upon arrival, I could see that the trees hadn’t “leafed-out” and so I directed my attentions to a slightly high and wild river. I began looking for river treasures when I met this strange fellow.
He called himself the “Guardian” and he was doing the same thing as me. Namely walking along the edge of the river and picking up objects that were washing ashore. The water level has been high and many of the youngest willow trees were poking out of the sand like large hairs on the back of some big animal you can’t totally see because it’s that huge. I tagged along with the Guardian and we conversed freely. It’s funny how no two beings react in the same way to the “treasures” the river offers up. For example, people are always trying to give me driftwood that they think I will like. Rarely, am I attracted to their finds. Driftwood aesthetics is a matter of personal taste as is the attraction for all the other stuff that washes up here. I didn’t think anything at all as the Guardian started collecting plastic bottles. While those bottles held little interest for me…the polystyrene chunks I was stuffing into my collecting bag held no interest to the Guardian whatsoever.
The Guardian was keying on green plastic bottles in particular. I had to know why these bottles and what was he going to do with them? And then there was the added mystery of his name. If he’s the Guardian…what is he guarding? My new friend said he would be glad to tell me, but it would in fact, be easier to show me. Together we walked up the shore to the tree line where my new friend had a project he was working on.
I was amazed to see that he had planted a river-polished cedar trunk into the sand and had attached his green plastic bottles to the nubs that were once branches of this tree. Judging by his project’s progress…he had been hard at work before I ran into him. Here’s another view that shows where he positioned his bottle tree.
He told me he had been doing this activity once a year for many years and that he is called the Guardian because he is the protector of this particular ritual. It’s purpose is to awaken the coming of Spring after a period of dormancy. There are other beings like himself that are scattered across the planet and serve the same or similar functions through their various rituals. As he added new bottles to his tree, the Guardian chided me in a friendly way saying did I think the seasons just transitioned on their own? The Earth in fact needs the help of all who love her to keep her from falling into neglect. The Earth needs to know that folks do care because that extra bit of genuine concern is important and provides the extra energy needed to sustain everything that lives. Otherwise, this huge task is simply not worth it and the world slips into apathy and falls back asleep.
As the Guardian spoke to me, large dark clouds started gathering overhead. The first large drops of rain began falling in the sand around us. It was time to go and I parted company with my new friend. I thought about what he told me. I guess I hadn’t considered that the very planet might also be alive and would respond positively knowing that others simply cared. As I walked home I said a little prayer of my own inside my head and awaited the further greening of the world.