February - Toree Hiebert

posted Mar 1, 2012, 12:54 PM by Rob Pollock
Urban Abundance:

What does abundance mean to you?

What does an urban landscape filled with abundance look like?


Toree Hiebert says:

Life is an ever-evolving experience. What abundance means to me right now is very different than it did two years ago and for that matter two months ago. In this moment at this season in my life I have really been contemplating and pouring over the rich and abundant ecosystem that we call home. Much of this meditation on the rich abundance of our local region has been inspired by Gary Snyder’s book of essays called The Practice of the Wild. Isn’t it serendipitous when a book crosses your path at the exact moment your spirit is ready to accept the message it contains? Not only accept, but there is a knowing, like it is your own words and thoughts and you are just reading in agreement already!


In his book, Gary Snyder quotes the Japanese Zen Master Dogen “When you find your place where you are, practice occurs.” I have a tendency to get really depressed about living in an urban area. I am a country girl at heart. I like wild tangles of forest and open fields. So often as I make my way around this city full of poorly planned housing with a mobile home next to a mansion, a cute 40’s era home next to a run-down quick mart I start to feel trapped here like a fish out of water. Lately I have been realizing where I really am bio-regionally speaking and I have begun to take deep notice of the abundance around us.


We are a part of the great Columbia watershed and a beautiful territory. I have been meditating on an image of Clark County as seen with all the buildings and human clutter not blocking my view of the entire territory. Seeing it as all the interconnected creeks, rivers, streams, wetlands, mountains, hills, and canyons (yes, we have canyons in Clark County) the flora and fauna that make up this area. We really do live in abundance.


Gary Snyder quotes Dogen again, “The blue mountains are constantly walking”.

We have our own blue mountains to the east, the Cascade Mountains. After a long stretch of gray winter days when the weather clears enough to see the foothills and Mt. Hood and Mt. St Helens are you reminded, like I am, of their great presence in our lives? Along with the ocean to the east they guide our weather and make this area lush and green. They tell us when to plant (old timers say when the snow melts off Silver Star mountain) and hold wild places that inspire us and teach us.


So what do our mountains and wild abundance have to do with our urban landscape?   The blue mountains inspire us, beg us to recreate wild abundance. We oblige with yards of grass giving way to veggie plots, blank building walls graced with artful scenes and community gardens. We visit urban farmer’s markets, join gleaning guilds, and share harvests with those in need. We develop a camaraderie in feeding ourselves from the land.  As we do these things let’s take the blue mountains walking with us and remember the rich ecosystem we are all a part of.  Let’s plant natives, heal our watershed, restore the soil, gather stinging nettle by the creek in the spring, pick wild blackberries in summer and gather our neighbor’s apples in the fall.  Let’s be mindful of how all of our actions affect this great bioregion.   This land is the place where we are. It shapes our culture here. We are a part of it and as we eat of it’s bounty, it is quite literally part of us.


Toree Hiebert,

Environmental Educator

Dirt Worshipper

Lover of Wild Things