Opinion

Return of the green and its many friends

First, let me remind all that we now live in a condo at the Vineyard, for this column is all about living in a “green” development.

The Vineyard is the greenest on the island with special pavement, special siding, special appliances that conserve water, special recycled counters among many other more subtle equipment.

Still, to raise such a tribute to greenness, the builders had to scrape the land clear.

Some would say, such is progress. Others might add, “such a sorrow.”

I have seen photographs of the destruction; the vast holes for foundations filled with machines to further insult the land.

As bleak as all this sounds, this piece is about renewal.

The condos have operated for a year now. The landscaping is maturing and people are emerging from their new homes to become neighbors.

One particular neighbor began appearing with camera in hand. He strolled through the day lilies, kneeling suddenly at a defenseless shrub and soon a flash bloomed, then moving on in a semi-crouch to his next find.

And finds he found.

I am curious about anyone with a camera, so we talked as I walked Drake the Wonder Dog.

It soon became apparent that he “knew” the natural world, even recognizing bird calls rising from the surrounding ravine. I was very impressed.

He seemed to see and hear more than I saw and heard.

For example, last week he motioned me to a crack between two concrete slabs, where a small pile of dirt had formed.

“It’s a wasp building his nest,” he said, and soon a wasp backed out of the small hole and deposited another bit to the pile.

He motioned to an exposed twig, “A dragonfly sits over there.”

The dragonfly seemed to pose; at least, it stayed still long enough for the photographer to do his work. (I don’t have to remind you of dragonfly wings, so sheer and veil-like.)

He showed me photos of spiders building nests, capturing their dinner and finding love. Butterflies, one reminding me of a calico dress I once owned, landed lightly on leaves and blossoms, then vanished from sight with their protective markings.

I recalled the photos of the scoured land where all habitat – flowers, twigs, grasses and vines – had been swept away. And there I was standing in the garden watching the land’s rejuvenation.

I could imagine the dragonfly, wasp, butterfly and spider as valiant explorers, soon to scurry off announcing in small voices, “It’s now safe.”

The birds will arrive to eat those explorers and soon we will have the whole population of life that once thrived in the shade of those lovely vines. Nests will nestle in trees, baby birds will hatch and neighbors can watch bird antics from their patios.

The question is: Was this miracle of re-population due to the green construction? Did that “green” concept include use of natural – not man-made – fertilizers? Were the landscapers who designed the garden limited to plants less harmful to the environment – no ivy and no scotch broom, for example? Was the choice to have no lawns, thus no artificial fertilizers, also in that original concept, to heal the environment not ruin it?

I suspect that all this has been planned so that it will serve as a model for those who scour the land, plant ivy and strange exotics, then spray lawns with Weed-B-Gone, and buy Round-Up in case a stray weed — perhaps a twiggy one that might hold a dragonfly one day — would be zapped.

Another question: Is there a gleam of hope that people and butterflies, spiders, wasps and dragonflies can live peaceably together?

I hope so.

Sally Robison is a Winslow artist and the author of “The Permanent Guest’s

Guide to Bainbridge Island.”

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