July 25, 2013
Holly Berry is proving to be a destructive force of nature.
Most any dog lover has had this experience with a cute, huggable, seemingly irresistible constant companion and friend that can take away all loneliness while providing an outlet for our attention beyond ourselves, distracting us from our selfish complaints.
At what surely must be more than a year of age, Holly Berry, who came to our family as a rescued hound shortly before Christmas, can’t be trusted alone with any valuables.
No shoes should be left anywhere within her reach. Bathroom doors should remain closed at all times to avoid the stripping of toilet paper from rolls.
Cheese left on the kitchen counter unattended is as good as thrown in the trash.
At night, Holly Berry is banished to the garage, which she has managed to convert into a trash heap of scavenged plastic bottles, cardboard containers and chew toys. It is what she does. It is what makes her comfortable, gives her solace and — in her mind (But who really knows what goes on in that head?) – purpose.
She is a part of nature, is affected by it and affects her surroundings.
This column could be a simple look at the difficulties of living with a puppy, but now it turns thinking to a broader picture of humans, the affect nature has on us and our ability to affect changes to it.
The S.C. Botanical Garden in nearby Clemson has had an exhibit of native plants and their environs that at one time existed in the Carolinas but have almost all disappeared at the hands of man.
The force that created nature determined that a broad variety of plants and animals should live on the land – including humans. But humans have changed their environment.
The Botanical Garden exhibit showed some of those relationships with plants that once existed broadly in micro-environments throughout our region.
The exhibit could describe how portions of the Upstate were — as recently as the mid 1700s — grasslands inhabited by Bison. Those grasslands were created by Native Americans who opened up forests with practices that destroyed parts of a previously existing forest.
Then row croppers came along, planting cotton to support their families and grow their comforts of existence until the soil quit producing for them. Then society found other practices of industry, transportation and commerce to sustain itself, grow families and comforts of existing here.
This pattern of human existence and change to the environment has been replicated throughout the world to the extent that we can reasonably argue that humans are changing the world’s climate and environment much like Native Americans changed the forests of what we call Upstate South Carolina. We are part of nature and affecting it.
Our recent change in weather patterns is an example of that human change on the world right here in our community.
In an irony of our local example, a deluge of rain – 30 inches in two weeks and 8.5 inches in four hours – washed away most of the exhibit at the SC Botanical Garden that can be used to describe man’s change on nature.
Holly Berry has been a force of nature, changing a family dynamic at one home of the Upstate. We have taken action to preserve things like shoes and cheese in our household. We have done that through understanding and reacting.
The S.C. Botanical Garden exhibit offered instruction and a lead as to how man can change his world. That should offer us a clue to now react to our current changes and avoid more destructive outcomes than we have already experienced.
Our ability to understand and learn and change direction is one thing that sets us apart from puppies.
We can devise ways of making consumption more efficient and finding alternate sources of energy that don’t involve burning hydrocarbons.
We can make an industry out of those practices that sustain our families and comforts living here if we will only think.
Holly Berry reacts to her craving for cheese and ends up in the garage.
Hopefully humans can do a better job of reasoning.