Recently on a walk in Austin Gardens, I passed three women sitting on a bench, each with hair streaked with white. They were chatting and laughing as only old friends do. On another bench, a suitcase rested with the top open revealing a jumble of books. The owner paced nearby clutching several sheets of paper as he read out loud in a language I couldn’t identify. In the grassy center of the park, two older adults moved slowly and beautifully through a series of Tai Chi movements.

I could go on. The park is seldom empty. It’s vibrant but also restful, filled with glorious trees, grass, plants and flowers. I’ve always felt lucky we have great parks in our village, but my gratitude has deepened since reading Robin Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass.

In May, eight of us, men and women, read this book and met five times to discuss it. The author is a Native American woman who has a PhD in plant ecology. She writes like a poet. She opened our eyes to the wonder of our environment. I hope you will read her book. If you do, you will laugh, cry, and your soul will be stirred. Given today’s government, it’s especially incumbent on each of us to protect our earth. Robin’s book will inspire you to do that. It’s especially powerful to share in a group. I promise you’ll never look at our tree-filled community and lush parks in the same way.  

 Robin Sheerer 

Oak Park 

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