Earth Care 2023

Enjoy the Dawn — By Helen Nistala

Snow has settled on the field overnight and as the sun rises, the sky turns pink and gold. The tall heads of last year’s artichokes are spiky with frost. Nearby, a robin sings gleefully. As I turn and walk back to the warm kitchen, I feel embarrassed about how little attention I pay to the beauty of the morning at home. I promise to step outside regularly to appreciate the sunrise when I get back.

The sun stays out, and the earth softens, ready for the little saplings we are planting at the tree nursery. In the silence of the morning, we get to know the young trees, their purple and brown buds and smooth branches. We plant sprouting acorns too, plump with life and white curly roots, they seem eager to get started. I picture the giants they will become and feel happy to be connected to them.

The silence lifts at lunchtime as we sit on logs and stretch out our muddy legs. We are warmed by mugs of tea and fresh soup and the kindness of those who made our lunch. Hot soup in the fresh air and clear winter sunshine; we feel cared for, just as we care for the trees. Conversations flow comfortably; it’s easy to forget that a few days ago my friendly companions were strangers.

As the shadows lengthen on our last day, we load the wheelbarrows with our tools and stand together in silence. In the fields of an old farm, we have planted a new wood. The young roots beneath us are beginning a lifelong friendship with the soil. I send Metta and feel it returned. I imagine coming back here, years into the future, to meet the trees again and walk beneath their green canopy.

I must admit, until I sat down to write this, I’d forgotten my promise to enjoy the dawn. But there are other seeds that this precious retreat has planted in me. Among them is a deep, renewed gratitude for my regular connection with nature, and a commitment to get to know more tree-loving beings. Maybe tomorrow I’ll step outside and watch the sunrise.