What Are You Doing to Help Mother Earth?

23 04 2012

I thought I’d devote some time this week to promoting a fellow author I admire not only for her writing, but also for her commitment to the environment. Her latest book, Stakeout, was a finalist for the Green Earth Award this year.

Bonnie J. Doerr not only writes green, she lives green. Her home is a log cabin set in a patch of woods in North Carolina. Bonnie J. Doerr's cabin in North CarolinaBonnie has carved out a space for herself to garden. You can see some of her lovely landscaping in this picture, but to truly appreciate what she’s done, you need to look at the before and after pictures of her garden space (see below). It’s difficult to believe that these pictures are of the same place. Bonnie’s hard work and green thumb are evident. In the first picture, she’s hard at work planting her garden.Picture of Bonnie J. Doerr plantingThen in the next picture, here’s how her garden grows. Amazing! Bonnie brings the same dedication and passion to her writing and to her environmental activism. So I asked her to write a blog post in honor of Earth Day.

By Bonnie J. Doerr

During Earth Week I’m reminded more than ever about why my writing took off in the direction it did. A deep appreciation of nature and the need to be immersed in the outdoors on a regular basis has defined my mental health for as long as I remember. I’ve been astounded to learn how many people are missing the gene that connects them to nature. In recent years my astonishment has turned into alarm. This dissociation from nature, I believe, is in many ways at the core of our environmental crisis.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods (Algonquin, 2005), defines this as Nature Deficit Disorder. As a result of a lifetime indoors, children have limited respect for their immediate natural surroundings. According to Louv, “An increasing pace in the last three decades, approximately, of a rapid disengagement between children and direct experiences in nature… has profound implications, not only for the health of future generations but for the health of the Earth itself.”

Watch the wonder and delight on a young child’s face when first observing a nest of eggs hatching, a tadpole growing into a frog, or a bean sprouting and reaching for the sky, and you know how much joy children naturally find in nature. We are wired to appreciate nature’s gifts. To nurture that appreciation, before it is lost to modern day society, can be soul saving.

Without first having experienced something, how can we come to care for it? So it seems tragically understandable that a lack of association with the natural environment leads to ecological abuse, or at the very least, taking our natural environment for granted.

I began to write poetry first, then short stories. But by the time I drafted my first novel, the die was cast. Each piece of writing had brought me closer and closer to natural settings, to crimes against the environment, and finally to where I am now—writing ecological mystery/adventures. I realize not every child can visit a wilderness, or explore a National Refuge, but every child can feel like they have when immersed in my novels. Teens can learn how much fun it is to be outdoors, how sensitive the environment is, and how they can set a good example for the adults in their world. They can virtually join other teens as they work to improve the Earth and save its creatures. It’s one small thing I can do to inspire environmental stewardship.

This month the Girl Scouts of USA are featuring Bonnie at their site. You can learn more about Bonnie and her novels on her website and by reading a recent interview. You can also see more about Bonnie’s work on her videos, which are posted at the Leap Books blog. And even better, Bonnie’s books are on sale the rest of this month for 40% off the paperbacks: Stakeout is only $7.79 and Island Sting is only $7.19.

Here’s one video of Bonnie’s work to whet your appetite:

Do Birds Have Bratty Babies?

10 05 2010

Starling by Paul Brentnall

So today I’m watching these birds outside the window. Looks like Mom, Dad, and baby. The baby’s cheeping its head off. One of the parents repeatedly sticks its beak in the baby’s mouth–feeding it, I assume. Lovely family picture.

But after the parent stops dropping food down its throat, the baby squawks and squawks. It follows first one parent, then the other, hollering its little head off and flapping its wings. It doesn’t go very high or far, but it manages to annoy both parents, who are digging in the grass.

They both chirp angrily at it. At first it’s startled and falls back a bit, but after a few seconds, it begins pestering the adults again. The parents snap and peck at the baby a few times, which stops the squawks temporarily, but not for long. After several replays of this scenario, the bird I’ve pegged as the dad, mainly because it’s slightly larger, flies at the baby and attacks it with his beak. The baby jumps back, parries, then tries to protect itself as the torture continues. I’m about to go out and stop the bird abuse when the dad fluffs its feathers and flies off.

Is the baby cowed? For about a minute. Then it goes right back to pestering its mom. She turns and caws what looks like a lecture, with the little one backtalking most of the time. She turns her back and returns to digging. Emitting loud cheeps, the baby pecks at the mom’s tail and wings. She keeps ruffling her feathers and moving away, but baby persists. A car turning into the driveway sets them both into flight, but baby’s hot on mama’s tail, screeching the whole time, as they fly into the trees.

So what’s going on here? Looks almost like a human family with a bratty kid. Do birds have child protective services? For a while there, I thought the baby was a goner. However, I have to admit, for the most part, my sympathy’s with the parents. I would have been tempted to send that pain in the neck to a time-out branch.