The Steward’s Paradox

Puddock Hill Journal #29: Leave it alone, but you can’t leave it alone.

I’ve been down to the short strokes and up against a deadline on the novel I’m writing for my Masters of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Pennsylvania, so I didn’t get out to walk the Puddock Hill property much over the past couple weeks.

Of course, I can see some things from my window, mostly changing leaf colors and the steady drift of leaves down to the ground. We have done some power blowing, but the lawn remains littered with leaves at the moment.

Wait. Wow. I just used that word “littered” so casually.

We think of litter as a bad thing. It certainly is bad if it means an empty bottle of Coke tossed alongside the highway, but etymologically it derives from “lectus,” Latin for bed. When leaves litter the forest floor, that’s good, of course. They form a healthy, botanically essential bed there. Maybe “blanket” would be a better word for what the leaves do, but please permit me to stick with the word “litter” for an easier segue.