by mathew sabatino November 22, 2016

It's just never enough.  It will never be enough for as long as you live.  There will always be more that you can do.  More that you can fit into, your already, busy schedule.  Giving up or burying your head in the sand just isn't an option anymore.  You can't think that passing it over and thinking someone else will take care of it is a viable option for your own future.  You will need to listen, think for yourself, gather and hunt the knowledge that will arm you with the tools you'll need to take the steps forward in order to secure your own fate here on this planet.  You will need to do this today.  There used to be a time when you could put it off until tomorrow but I am sorry to say that those days are over.  This is not for your kids.  This is for you.  So now that I have gotten that off my chest (my apologies) I want to share with you a quick experience I had in the Great Smokey Mountains this past weekend.

Fraser fir is the popular christmas tree here in the atlantic coast.  When you drive up the winding roads that traverse these gorgeous Smoky Mountains you notice them, almost immediately.  The skeleton forests.  It's November here and the leaves are sporadically changing into the fires of autumn blaze.  Popping up through the thriving hardwoods the toothpick remnants of what was once a thriving fir-spruce community.  The red spruce are mostly doing fine but an invasive bug from Asia has decimated the Fraser fir population by nearly 90% - which means that in the not so distant future these trees will be completely gone if something is not done to help them.   I feel melancholy to think they would ever be gone in my days.  There is a philosophical conversation there.  Something universal about the existence of all living things.  Why they evolve and adapt. Why they migrate over mountain tops and settle into the valleys they call home.  Why there is something that draws us humans to them.  Consider the historically, traditional relationship people have with decorating there homes for the holidays with these fragrant trees or the reason why their attractive aromatic nature has made way through many a candle scent.  There is no reason to ponder too long why these trees have drawn us in with there aromatic siren song because in the end that is all we need to remind us of some nostalgic moment we had when we were kids or when you breath deep, the fresh mountain, forest air you body responds by releasing chemicals in your blood that make you happier.  The relationship is simple.  

We got up to the top of the mountain before the sun was up and there was the ever so faint, sliver of pastel on the horizon.  Looking out into the Great Smoky Mountains was foreign to me but the beauty of this natural world was not.  I felt that warm and fuzzy feeling you get on vacation.  That feeling that anything is possible and that discovery is the very thing that keeps your imagination moving forward.  At just under 6,643 feet, Clingman's Dome is the highest mountain in the Smokys and by the time we made it up there the sun was spilling over the peaks and valleys like a golden wave.  The mist, that gives these mountains their name, was rising up in near violent puffs and swirls.  A front was blowing in and the air was frigid.  There was contrasting autumn colors everywhere and against the backdrop of healthy, green fir, spruce and moss it was like some artistic realm unveiled in one fell swoop.  Up at this elevation the bug didn't infect the firs.  This was a comforting thought but a fleeting one because soon to follow was the impending knowledge that some day, in the not so distant future, the climate would warm just enough for those bastards to make their ways to these healthy stands.  

You can see this trees as just another passing part of a long history of the ever evolving natural world or you can take the stance that I do (and most conservationists do).  You should see these as an integral part of biodiversity.  Perhaps its just something we may never understand.  What should be the foundation of all this thinking is the basic idea of what you see when you look out into a world from atop a mountain top.  You should have some inkling that you are much smaller than you may feel in your normal life.  You should come to the realization that you are just a tiny little part of a much bigger "thing" thats happening right now.  As the universe expands into, a concept that most cannot fathom, we are just here, spinning round and round on this rock we call Earth. These trees grow, man travels, the wooly balsam adelgid makes its way across the globe and wipes out some species of tree.  You have to ponder the idea that we have caused this to happen - not always on purpose but it is us who needs to undo the things we have caused.  At the very least to be able to, once again, look out into a vista, bathed in golden sunbeams, and have these magnificent trees glowing their green majesty over the land.  


mathew sabatino
mathew sabatino


Also in The Naturalist - Dispatches from the Wild


by mathew sabatino July 19, 2016

For me wild crafting is a ritual.  Its a study of myself & what it means to be part of the natural world.  In a nutshell, it means I go into the wilderness, whether it be the grand wilds of America or the local ones in my backyard, & I get dirty.  

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by mathew sabatino June 15, 2016

Growing up on Long Island has created a deep lagoon of nostalgic, maritime memories & romantic stories that reoccur like the tides of The Great South Bay...

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by mathew sabatino October 27, 2015

The thing to consider is that there isn't as much plant diversity here as there is on the west coast for example, and this is something to really think about because this means that these plants & trees have existed here for thousands of years, undisturbed by serious adaptation.

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