The Words of Judith K. Witherow  
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Ceiling of Blue
Floor of Green

Each day the bounty the earth once provided lessens. The Polar Ice Cap is melting and the Rainforest is being depleted at an alarming rate. That which was once readily available is neither endless nor necessarily renewable. Thinking, caring people accept these facts as truth that can be proven beyond doubt. While these words are true, and reason for fear, they should never close your eyes to the wonders that exist on a smaller scale.

Lift up that window; discard the screen, throw open the doors and let life come rushing in full tilt! Fill yours lungs and senses with the wonders that you are beholding.

Whether you are peering out a window, taking a walk or just sitting outside on a bench, allow yourself to see what is constantly taking place on a subtle basis.

The environment needs the constant care you would give to the newborn of any specie. If this does not happen, everything that occurs because of neglect will happen to us. “Failure to thrive” is not just a phrase that applies to humans. Recognize what is happening to the earth on a daily basis. Learn to observe everything in your life. Hold what you see close like a much desired lover.

Nature changes consistently, and the majority of the time her moods are so gradual that you risk missing something important. Stay in tune with how everything looked an hour, day or week before, or you will miss the importance of what has shape-shifted.

I unabashedly love everything that nature provides. It’s of little consequence if it’s a wind swept day that cheerfully tosses the clouds about, the phases of the moon or storms that reinforce how quickly our life can be changed. There is sorrow when anything is harmed, but it takes place because nothing in life remains stagnant. This is Mother Earth’s domain. She is continually reinventing and changing in an effort to repair the damage that humans have caused. Nothing should be viewed as a mistake or a disaster. If you approach life with this attitude, you have lost touch with the realities of the grand plan that affects all of us.

It surprises me when others don’t share my excitement at discovering something never seen before or the wonder that the changing of seasons provide. Perhaps my excitement is magnified because a lot of what I see is from my windows on the world. For many years I have battled incurable illnesses. Often, they keep me from rambling at will through areas that I once freely explored. Everything I do is more difficult, but it has not lessened my desire to revel in the sheer pleasure at the gifts that are bestowed upon my daily life.

I have a tendency to share my information by word or picture with my women friends. Most of what is shared concerns what I find interesting, puzzling or beautiful. Often it’s a commonplace situation that has taken on a surreal beauty.

It’s important that others develop the habit of recognizing what is taking place where they live. Many times their reaction is one of nonchalance. Society seems to have tamed and trained their ability to view their surroundings with a jaded eye.

My family observes and questions everything in the same manner that I do. We share information about what we have seen that has changed, and try to find a reason for its occurrence. If we are to stop the ongoing erosion of land and the pollution of bodies of water, we have to understand the impact on the most ordinary inhabitants.

When you become more attuned to what is happening, you will discover many beneficial events that take place in your own private paradise. The sky becomes a painter’s pallet of brilliant colors when the weather is about to change. The shades of pink and red in the evening and morning blend and bleed to signal fair or foul weather. A solid line of low yellowish clouds signals a cold front, or change of weather, coming through. When leaves on the tree show their underside it is a sign that rain will soon be appearing. A ring around the moon in the winter months is a sign that snow will soon be arriving. Many things become evident to those who remain aware..

Not every thing that you discover will be of benefit to the planet. Think about it: Do you see as many insects, plants and wild animals as there once were? Is there a noticeable lack of grasshoppers, ladybugs, inch worms, fireflies, honeybees, and other beneficial insects in your area. There was talk about bacteria affecting the bees, but nothing has been said about it in the past two years.

Neighbors, who are beekeepers, used to take their hives to the orchards in Maryland and leave them to pollinate various fruit trees. The hives are now empty because of the onset of these bacteria. African bees infiltrating the hives might have introduced the disease. A scientific answer would be very beneficial.

For quite awhile I have not seen honeybees flying from flower to flower collecting pollen. This is disturbing because without the benefit of their non-stop work there is no pollination of crops, fruit trees, honey, beeswax for candle making, etc. Recently, my partner said that she saw a honeybee in our garden. This is reason for hope because another major loss has been taking place with little notice.

The invasion of African bees was once a hot topic. It’s now just another news event that is no longer of interest to the media. Their “event of the day” attitude, with no follow up, is beyond despicable. When is the last time you saw A.I.D.S. coverage? The shallowness of reporting has become the norm. What the media calls “Reality” shows is nothing less then pap to dull the intelligence of the human race to an all time low. Where is the hunger for truth and knowledge? If people allow themselves to be distracted, they will become the dead bodies of bees that once inhabited a thriving colony.

The other side of what is taking place is an over abundance of some forms of wildlife. So much land has been used for development that there is scarce room for animals to live and find food in their former habitat. That is why their bodies are seen along the roadways from collisions with cars. Another tragedy is deer crashing through store windows because they see their reflection or what looks like forestland.

We have to be the ones that document what is happening. Nothing is irrelevant. The circle of life is broken whenever we minimize the usefulness of anything within our sphere of existence. The importance of shared information lies within all of us. It’s imperative that we observe and make a mental or written note of what is occurring. Involve friends in the quest to preserve the world and keep it the way that we want it to be. Together we can prevent a catastrophe before it becomes a reality that can’t be rectified.

We need to seek answers about beneficial insects disappearing while mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus thrive and deer ticks that spread Lyme disease flourish. The Nile virus is killing off crows and others within their family—bluejays, ravens, etc. (I took Doxycycline for 30 days because of being infected with Lyme disease. Fortunately, I recognized the symptoms and had it treated early.)

Our yard contains various types of bird feeders. We spread mothballs under the bushes and trees to keep cats from using the area as litter boxes and to protect birds from being harmed.

By chance, I observed three ravens picking up mothballs in their beaks and rolling them back and forth to each other. The one with the mothball would rub it on its feathers then roll it to the next bird. This process was repeated numerous times. They now pick up the mothballs and medicate themselves. Care is taken in rubbing the mothball over as many areas of their body as can be reached.

The procedure has now evolved into breaking the mothball apart and carrying pieces up to a tree limb and cracking it into even smaller bits. Today I watched as a bluejay performed this ritual. (They are members of the crow family, and their numbers are also diminishing.) The birds now swallow bits of the mothball. I assume they have learned a way to protect themselves even further. As I observe this new practice, I wonder if they carry some of the “medicine” to their young ones and to keep their nest from becoming infected.

For months I have taken pictures of what has now become a daily routine. It never occurred to me that birds or animals could develop the knowledge to become involved in their own healthcare. What they are doing is apparently helping because I have seen an increase in their numbers, and others have joined in this daily event. Only time will tell if my observations are proof of a remedy that “lesser” creatures have discovered.

Morning is an amazing time of day. Everything is wearing a new coat of dew as if Mother Earth has washed away the previous day’s grime and indifference. Birds chirp back and forth to one another. They tell each other how their night was, and where to find food to take back to babies nestled safely in the crook of a tree. Sometimes loud chattering is heard when larger birds try to push the smaller ones away from a feeder. The noise is followed by mutual agreement and everyone gets a chance to eat.

Monogamous mates work together building a new nest or reinforcing one that was previously used. The nest is constructed from knowledge passed on since the beginning of time. Many times I’ve watched as non-stop flights were made to a chosen tree. Close observation reveals layers of sticks braided together. When the basic foundation is complete, other scraps of material are gathered to fill the empty spaces. Plastic, string, papers and mud is used to build a home that will hold the eggs until they are hatched. Like female rabbits that pull out their fur to make a bed before giving birth, birds also use feathers to form a soft layer in the completed nest. People could learn a valuable lesson watching birds recycle the scraps they find that humans have carelessly discarded.

These smaller birds are not to be confused with raptors or those who work by helping to dispose of road kill. What we might observe with disdain or sadness, others view as a means of survival.

Some days a large shadow momentarily will block my light and I will catch a glimpse of a hawk as it swoops low to strike a pigeon in mid air. If the hunt is successful all that will remain is a halo of feathers on the ground. The pigeon will be hit with such force that it will be dead before the hunter flies away with its prey clutched tightly in razor sharp talons. Nature gives and she takes away. With help she provides equally.

Whenever we are going somewhere I’ve noticed there is now a considerable amount of road kill laying everywhere. Crows fed regularly on these carcasses at one time, but their number has diminished in our vicinity. If humans don’t dispose of this health hazard in the making, another disease will find a way to thrive on this petri dish of accidental death.

I know only too well how the manmade toxins enter and start the replication of damaged cells that causes numerous illnesses. The incurable illnesses that have thrived in my body for decades were a result of the environment in the rural Appalachians where I was raised. The coal mines that pock marked the hills where we lived polluted our only source of drinking water. It undeniably affected our health in numerous irreparable ways. It turned out to be the most beautiful poison that one could ever imagine.

I’m immune suppressed because of being on three different types of chemotherapy. I refused to take the second year of IV chemo despite my rheumatologist’s displeasure. My body. My choice. To him it was worth the destruction of other parts of my body. I chose to take pills for the suppression of my immune system. They keep errant cells from multiplying. The medicines I take numerous times a day allows me to live a semi-normal life until a crisis occurs.

There are two things that I credit with my will power to live. They are my partner of almost 28 years, and a deep abiding love of nature and all it entails. If I were to experience the loss of either, it would be cause to lessen my fight in the world that I worship beyond all else. If others would develop this same love for their surroundings it would add a third reason that would benefit all of us.   



Sue and Judith Where We Met

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