Voices from the Mountains

Sitting before my wood stove fire on this snowy winter morning, I am filled with gratitude for these comforts of the forest. Ken’s business as a handyman takes him to large farms where he culls insect or storm damaged or dead trees. These are what warm us through the cold winters of my beloved Virginia mountains.

The wood has so many connections for me. As a self-trained naturalist, the forest holds constant beauties, surprises and comforts. Long ago, not able to call each wildflower by name, I started using a wildflower guide to learn hepaticas from anemones, and colt’s foot from dandelions. That led, of course, to a collection of wildflower guides. The more I knew, the more I found I didn’t know.

Then, as a K-4 teacher, I just had to bring forest ecology into the classrooms. All things are connected, I told the children. Wipe out one little species of wildflower, native grass, tree, insect, fish, amphibian, mammal ore reptile — and you’ve made a hole in our big earth net.

Teaching in turn, let to doing summer-long nature camps at my farm. Tucked in as it was in the midst of a 3,000 acre wildlife sanctuary, it was the perfect place to instill a love of nature in children. They did chores at home and brought their small earnings to our “adopt a species” can. Some of my little ones actually thought the endangered animal would come to my farm. No matter, they knew they had helped save another wolf, elephant, mountain gorilla ocelot or lynx. If we passed by a forest being cleared for yet another mall, they would say, “Oh! Poor Forest Animals! Oh! Poor trees!”

My classroom teaching and nature camp days are behind me, but my love of and commitment to the forests and the lives that depend on them is as strong as ever. I am appalled by the reckless way this current administration is treating our national monuments and forests — all for a few drops of oil or gas! It is my sincere hope and prayer that we are not too late to save this earth, our only home, from the devastating effects of fossil fuel pollution, forest devastation, and global warming. We owe it to future generations;. With papers like yours, the earth has a voice. These forests, streams and wildlife of the central and southeastern mountains will not only survive, but thrive because there are still people who care, who love nature enough to speak up.

Elizabeth Doyle Solomon
Barboursville, VA


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