In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold muses,“An oak is no respecter of persons.” Each year, the oak tree grows a new ring of wood no matter who owns the land where it roots. No matter the human drama being acted out in faraway government offices or in nearby houses, the oak tree continues its sunlight alchemy so long as it can.
A year ago, I had not heard of Washington Island. But through a chain of happy events, I found myself living on the island, working as a naturalist as The Art and Nature Center and growing veggies for Hotel Washington. With two roles that kept me outdoors, I had the honor of surveying a piece of the Niagara Escarpment, dwarf lake iris, ringneck snakes. I witnessed the annual parade of blooms along Jackson Harbor Ridges as we approached the Summer Equinox, and then recede back into greens and browns as Fall took hold. I saw bald eagles, hawks, vultures soar over the garden as I dug up a millennia of rocks. And in the midst of all the creatures, geological formations, plants, I felt small and content to be so.
I am thankful for the beauty of Washington Island, its diverse biology and geology, and how it reminds me of my place. A creature alongside creatures, delighting in a cool evening at Schoolhouse Beach. The cedar soaks in the last rays of evening sun as do I.