Nature and Environment

Because at 160,000 years, the party is just getting started.

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Woman in Healing Waterfall

"We need the tonic of the wilderness. The ocean, the mountains, the deserts, a wooded grove – all contain the magic needed to restore  pure radiant energy to a stressed soul.  Mother Earth in all of her infinite compassion and strength has remarkable powers to restore vitality. Wash yourself in the pure water of the streams, put your bare feet on the  good earth, fall asleep in the arms of an ancient tree. There is good medicine to be found in nature."  – Henry David Thoreau

Anima Sanctuary, Jesse Wolf's wild home.

The readers of Mother Earth News understand that we are each an inextricable, essentially natural part of this living earth, and that our well being depends upon our relationship to the land. Whether urban dwellers, suburban, small town, remote wildscape or country farm, our bioregions can provide the local food options, natural medicines, inspiration, and rooted identities we need to flourish.  Now, after 35 year of reinhabiting and restoring the Anima wilderness sanctuary and authoring over a dozen other books, I have finally written and released “The Healing Terrain,” a 300 pages-long volume focused entirely on deepening our vital relationship to the natural world, from land acquisition and preservation to wildcrafting, gardening, wild foods, bioregional herbalism, including what it takes to learn how to be more native to place, more truly and wholly at home. 

And for you, I present here the first of several “Healing Terrain” excerpts, drawn from the book’s introduction:

“We are a special blend of Earth’s many elements, erupting from its mysterious ferment, and then recycling back into the land and every life form that ever sprouts from it, and this is true no matter what our philosophy or religion. For the devout, nature is God’s perfect creation, a balanced blessing of needed nourishment and necessary challenge, and a pharmacy of the medicines we most often need. For the secular or scientific minded, it is the set of processes and relationships essential for the continuation of life on this planet – from Earth’s carbon fundament to its exact atmospheric blend. To all who truly notice, it is not only essential but amazing, fascinating, awesome!“The land provides the fertile soils for our gardens and farms, and thus the nutrient filled foods and medicinal plants we need to be healthy.

Tree Hugging

Even the sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful pharmaceutical drugs at the core of modern medical practice are simply isolations, copies, derivatives and recombinations of natural botanical compounds.  Shelter from storms and the security of a home contribute to that health. From the land come not only the materials for our houses and the terrain upon which they are built, but also, most medical technologies depend upon the land’s minerals – for everything from steel apparatus to computers, radium cancer therapies to x-ray machines. In addition, to the degree that any ailment is exacerbated by rootlessness, disembodiment, imagined separation, artificial environs, indoor lifestyles and the resulting stress, reconnection to nature can itself be a natural treatment for what ails us.

“At risk if we pay nature no heed, is our sentience and awareness, wildness and liberty, growth and effectiveness, ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment. On the other hand, by deepening our conscious relationship with the natural world and a particular place we create the opportunities and conditions for increased sensual engagement and creature awareness, broadened organic perspective, greater insight, holistic understanding, dynamic reciprocity, personal liberation and re-wilding, empowerment and self-authority, uninhibited pleasures and fun, and greater effectiveness at nearly everything we might try to do in life.”

Elka gathering nettles.

A garden is just not an indulgence for the person with taste, anymore than herbs are simply a more natural way of treating our bodies’ imbalances and illnesses, or time spent outside merely recreational.... such practices a points of connection to the planet, our regions and place, to our wild and dreaming selves, to our greatest potentials and the world we seek to envision and create.

Whenever I commit to spending hundreds of my irreplaceable mortal hours writing a book, I carefully measure its intent and purpose. When writing and illustrating “The Healing Terrain,” I could feel the importance of our species’ moving closer to the earth, noticing more, feeling more, and doing more to not just survive but thrive. It is important to us, and important to the well being of the rest of this living world, that we look not so much to heady thoughts and distant stars as to the earth we are extensions and agents of.  For the sake of the planet itself, we will need to sentiently reinhabit what the poet Gary Snyder once described to me as the “real world,” a world of great consequence and heartful rewards.

Click here for more information on Hardin’s book: The Healing Terrain. You can read more of his writings on his blog at, in Plant Healer Magazine, and in the Natural Health section of the Mother Earth News blog beginning with "Medicines of The People."

We cannot discover ourselves without first discovering the universe, the earth, and the imperatives of our own being. Each of these has a creative power and a vision far beyond any rational thought or cultural creation of which we are capable."  – Father Thomas Berry

yerba mansa


Have you ever encountered a scene like this at a lake, river or the ocean?

Algal bloom

Algal blooms like this one can occur in water bodies as small as a neighborhood pond and as big as the Gulf of Mexico. When algae grow out of control in our waters, the result can be unappealing, harmful to our health and harmful to the environment.

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) want YOU to help spot and document algal blooms in our waters. Submit your photos of algal blooms where you live, vacation and recreate for a chance to win great prizes. Your submissions will help build a photo library that can be used to educate more people about algal blooms and illustrate the prevalence and impacts of algal blooms around the country.

Click here for more info!

Photo: Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland; Eric Vance, U.S. EPA. From Flickr


Crazy Birthday Candle Jungle Books Teaches CountingAs a teacher, I have talked with several parents who are home-schooling their children about the best ways to introduce counting. Over the years, I've found a few books that I enjoy, and now there are newer resources that I feel good recommending to parents planning home-school lessons. 

The Crazy Birthday Candle Jungle book series by Mark Schmidt is a clever way to introduce and teach counting to children. The series has a book for each basic number and uses clever rhymes, fun language and colorful illustrations to keep children engaged. I would use this book when working with children just beginning to start counting as a read-aloud book and/or as a way to integrate language arts into the math curriculum. Further, the card games allow the children to continue to develop their math skills without realizing that they are completing work. 

I would rank this book in between a basic counting book and a more advanced math story. Some other notable books that could work in a similar role are listed below: 

Olivia Counts by Ian Falconer

How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? by Jane Yolen

Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Elhert

Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream by Cindy Neuschwander

The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang

Book cover by Eric J. Carter


Take a Second Energy Video Contest

Take a Second!

The National Environmental Education Foundation invites you to Take a Second for the environment by saving energy. Watch how we can find time for the environment every day, learn different ways to save energy, show in an Instagram video how you take a few seconds to save energy, and win great prizes by entering the Take a Second contest. Learn more at



tape 001 jpgI don’t think we are unlike most other people and we hate it when a bird flies into one of our windows and is injured or dies. Most birds just knock themselves out and if they don’t go into shock from the impact they recover. If I hear them hit I go to their aid and help revive them. I’ll hold them in my hand and keep them warm with my hands and wait for them to come to again. I will often talk soothingly to them, too. I don’t know if the talk helps or not but most seem to remain calmer and do recover. The longest it has taken to revive a bird has been a couple hours for a hairy woodpecker that really took a hard jolt upon collision. With that bird it was touch and go several times but tender care and calm reassuring talk seem to finally work. When the collisions happen during the winter I will often cradle them in my hands and bring them inside and hold them by the wood stove to warm up.

I have tried other methods over the years to keep these window collisions from happening with poor success. Sometimes the bird is being chased by another bird and they see the glass and its reflection and probably believe it is an escape route. As can be seen by the above photo the window reflects images very well and I believe the birds also sometimes see their image in the window and try to drive the ‘offending’ bird off or attack it. I have finally found something that reflects back at them and does not impair our views when we look outside. It is Mylar holographic bird scare ribbon. It is 2” wide and we bought a 100’ roll for around $6.00. It has small prisms all over both sides and because it is light the slightest wind will move it refracting light from those prisms and it seems effective in scaring the birds to keep from flying into the window.

Installing the Mylar Tape

What had me searching for this tape was two birds on two successive days flew into the window and died. We can go weeks with none hitting our windows and then it will be repetitive and often fatal. I believe it may have to do with the time of year and/or the position of the sun/cloud cover that causes reflections in the glass. What I find so good about this tape is it is light, has prism reflectors within the tape and it is strong but still light enough to move with the slightest breeze. Installation is as easy as cutting it to length and pinning it in place with a thumb tack. If a thumb tack won’t work tape could also be used to hold it in place. Mylar tape is very strong but to keep it from tearing loose from the wind I put about one inch of duct tape on the end where I used the thumb tack. We get pretty severe winds in the mountains and using the duct tape keeps me from having to go out and replace the holographic tape after strong winds.

Having two inch wide tape hanging from our window may not be the most attractive solution; however we live in the woods and no one but the birds and us will see it. To me having it deter birds is better than hearing a thump and going out to see a crumpled bird laying there. We have an abundance of birds and they keep our insect population in check. We therefore owe it to them to prevent them from flying into windows and getting injured. We benefit greatly from having them around as insect consumers. We watched one family of fly catchers this year build a nest and lay three tiny eggs which hatched into babies and grow up to adult birds. We watched the adults feed the babies an incredible amount of insects they caught. To have one of the adults fly into the window would disrupt the lives of those little baby birds and now that the baby birds are out on their own we would hate to lose one by crashing into the window.

We have attracted them here by providing flying corridors and making water available from our two all year under ground springs. We don’t want to attract them just to have them crash into our windows and become injured or die. We benefit from their presence and they benefit from our doing all we can to protect them. The holographic tape seems a good workable summer solution. Fewer birds remain in the winter due to migration so it is not as necessary at that time of year as it is when they are nesting and seeking food in the summer.

Mylar bird scare holographic tape seems to work for Bruce and Carol McElmurray, and for more on them and their mountain lifestyle go


It is illegal to shout, "Fire, Fire" in a crowed theater if there is no fire. It should also be illegal to shout, "There is No Fire, There is No Fire" if there IS a fire in a crowded theater, and others are warning, “There is a Fire”. If you pay to enlist others into this conspiracy to shout out "There is no Fire, There is no Fire" and drown out or suppress the observations of those who see the fire, in a conspiracy to suppress the truth which results in great damage and death it is a criminal act and the conspirators are guilty of murder.

Deepwater Horizon Offshore-Drilling Unit on Fire, 2010

Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling unit on fire 2010

People are dying of starvation in drought stricken areas affected by rapid climate change. Climate change deniers fall into the second class described above claiming there is no fire while California is burning up and the world is experiencing record heat. They are shouting down observed, recorded scientific facts and observations.  Their actions are a clear and present danger to the people and to the republic and are fraudulent, conspiratorial, and backed by the fossil fuel industry racketeering against the common good.

Drilling in Paradise: North Park, Colorado

 Drilling in Paradise North Park Colorado

The fossil fuel industry wants to exploit $400 trillion worth of resources and has suppressed the development of renewable energy by funding opposition to renewable energy in a multitude of formats. This includes funding climate change denial propaganda as part of their effort to keep their oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear subsidies and tax credits to prevent competition and funding legislators to eliminate renewable energy buy back credits. Let’s just call it what it is. It’s racketeering and the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are engaging in antitrust violations.

The environmental movement needs to unite and instigate anti trust lawsuits and criminal racketeering charges against the Koch Brothers, Exxon-Mobil, Peabody Coal, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh and the like, and begin the 21st century version of the Scopes Monkey trial for all the people and for a healthy and safe planet.

If a powerful company uses market muscle to stifle competition, that is an antitrust violation. Living and Dying in Google’s World, New York Times, 12/4/12

Forcing Climates Change by polluting four states at once in the Four Corners near Shiprock, NM

Forcing Climates Change by polluting four states at once in the Four Corners near Shiprock, NM 

Millions of acres look like this thank to fossil fuels.

Millions of Acres look like this thank to Fossil Fuels Dead Trees As far as you can see


38,000 Square Miles of Dead Trees, "Living and Dying in Google’s World," New York Times, page BU1, 12/4/12

Photo of Deepwater Horizon from Wikimedia Commons


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August 3 to 9, 2014, is National Farmers Market Week! Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate our nation’s farmers markets, the farmers who make them possible and the communities that host them.

10502240615_b7915bace9_mHave you ever wondered how weather impacts the fruits and vegetables you find at your local farmers market? Here are a just a few ways weather plays a role in crop growth and harvest.

Many stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines and cherries) need a certain number of “chill hours” – exposure to temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit – in order to flower and produce fruit. Buds that don’t receive sufficient chilling hours during the winter months can result in small or misshapen fruit, and reduced fruit quality.
Very hot weather, too much moisture and other stressors can reduce production in vine crops like melons, cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. Cold rains and cloudy weather can inhibit pollination in these crops. Too much rain during the growing season can cause rot and disease, and in the case of watermelon, the fruit can actually swell and burst!
Heat and low humidity affect the blossom growth and pollination of beans and corn. When temperatures soar above 90 degrees, fruit on tomato, eggplant and pepper plants is significantly reduced.

Tip: Lots of planning and care goes into the farmers market foods we enjoy! See what’s in season: check out USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory to find a market where you live. Interested in growing fruits and vegetables at home? The National Gardening Association’s Food Gardening Guide has lots of info to help you succeed.

Photo: Lance Cheung, USDA. Taken at Kirby Farms, Mechanicsville, VA.

(Sources: USDA. “Know Your Food, Know Your Farmer.”; Clemson University Cooperative Extension. What are chilling hours and what do they have to do with dormancy? Do cultivars differ in their chilling hour requirement?”; Texas A&M University. “Chilling Accumulation: Its Importance and Estimation.”; Casteele, J. Demand Media. “What is the Effect of Too Much Rain on Watermelons?”; Colorado State Cooperative Extension, Plantalk. “Hot Weather Impacts Vegetables,”

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