That evening, the passing of my friend’s father, Sam, prompted a trip to his visitation. The solemn setting, the collection of photographs and memorabilia, and the gathering of friends gave strength to the family and sustained them as they mourned their loss.
Like his ancestors and descendants Sam farmed in Iowa County. It’s unlikely that he ever used words like “sustainability” or “permaculture.” Yet it’s clear by his legacy of outstanding children and grandchildren that Sam lived by the principles characteristic of those concepts. Permaculture, like some Native American cultures, speaks of using the land with the well being of seven future generations in mind. Although he may not have articulated it, that’s what Sam did as he cared for the land and resources on his farm. While driving home on the back roads past well-kept fields, pastures and wood lots of our county it was evident to me that Sam was not alone in his stewardship.
The challenge and urgency of maintaining a sustainable environment increases daily. When Sam was born the earth held just over 2 billion people. Today we’re at 7.2 billion and rising quickly. Ten Thousand year old aquifers are being drained, ancient topsoil is being eroded, and the climate has been disrupted. The knowledge and leadership of wise Wisconsin landholders will be critical in teaching the wider world how to preserve resources for generations to come.
At dusk we were surprised and delighted to find that Mr. D had voluntarily returned to his fish tank for shelter and a meal. Like Sam’s family he needed a little something extra to sustain him during a difficult time. The next morning we watched him fly off for the last time into the wider world that will provide him with healthy food, clean water, and shelter as it must for us and our descendants for generations to come because we are all forever…Earthbound.