I helped save the world over the weekend, so I guess my New Year‘s Resolution is off to a solid beginning.  Okay, maybe I am bragging a little, but a little bluster should be excused when over a dozen volunteers went out to cut invasive brush to help preserve a remnant prairie on a sub-freezing January afternoon.  

Normal people were probably inside watching television, but thankfully I broke my football habit a long time ago.  I was clearly with others of my kind who’d also rather bundle up against frostbite just to get a chance to save a tiny fragment of the Prairie State.  I was working alongside ecologists and birders, hunters and cyclists.  Some had decades of experience, others were new to the field (pun).  It was great fun to see some old friends and meet some new ones.  

As far as I could tell the one thing that united one and all was an affection for nature in general, and an affection for this spot in particular.  Some lived right nearby, and others had traveled for a couple hours to make their own trip to help save the world.   This sort of work isn’t necessarily complicated. Can you work a pruners, or a hand saw?  Can you pile sticks into a neat pile?   

I can imagine the smirks out there when I write the phrase “save the world.”  What a pompous ass, you might think (and if you get me at the right moment, I’d probably agree). But my case of green fatigue is eased nicely when I have a chance to contribute to the betterment of a place that supports centuries-old oaks  and a remnant prairie – both are critically rare ecosystems in our own backyard.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned where I was on Saturday.   But I concluded before I began writing that isn’t important.  I think the important thing is – if you are so inclined – to find some place that needs your attention.  On any given Saturday in the Chicago region there are lots of people saving the world in their way.  I’m willing to bet there are a number of amazing sites close to where you are.   

The world is calling.  Can you hear it?        

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Dave Coulter

I have been a horticulturist for thirty years working in the Chicago area and beyond. I have lived in Oak Park for over thirteen years. My writing has recently appeared in the journal Ecological Restoration...