Food Truth Freedom

Your food, where it comes from & what's in it

Words For Earth Day: “If It Doesn’t Grow There, Don’t Leave It There.”

Dad and a neighbor, Cathy Callahan, cooking on one of our camping trips.

“If it doesn’t grow there, don’t leave it there.”

Those words were spoken by my Dad, G.V. Hill, decades before Earth Day.  This is what I was taught as a young child:  respect the Earth.

My Dad loved the woods & everything in it.  As small children, he would take us on camping trips for an afternoon, to our favorite woods, one long block from our house.  Rounding up some of the other neighborhood kids, we’d lug cast iron skillets, cooking utensils, food, condiments and tools to make a fire pit and traipse off to the Creek Woods. If we’d forgotten anything he’d send his “Indian runners” back to the house. (This was the 50’s – everybody was into playing cowboys & Indians.)

We were schooled in creating a fire pit as we collected stones to rest the pots on.  Above all, he reminded us of fire safety (we all believed in Smokey The Bear back then) and how to make sure the fire was out before we left.

Utmost in his instructions were to leave nothing behind.

Don’t litter, ever.

“If it doesn’t grow there, don’t leave it there.”

When I was very young I found Dad’s hatchet.  I was hacking away at a beech tree in our backyard and he caught me.  I wasn’t spanked for it, only told, “That tree is alive.  It can feel what you do to it and you’re hurting it.”  He calmly returned to the garage, found some tar and patched up the gouges.  For years after that, the tree bore those scars, tar and all.  It hurt me to know that I’d hurt a tree.  It still does to this day.

One summer day when I was 10, I walked that long block from my house to my sanctuary, the Creek Woods.

It was gone.

All the trees lay horizontally for as far as I could see.

My only thought was of the animals who were killed by falling trees and others who had lost their homes because of the monstrous bulldozers. What would become of them?

This was the most horrific event of my young life. It struck me to my very core.  I was devastated.  I still can vividly see it in my mind’s eye and remember the exact spot where I was standing, looking at all the trees on the ground, exhaust from the machinery and dust rising as they worked.

Unbeknownst to my sister and me, our beloved woods which was miles long and very narrow, had long been slated to become a 6-lane expressway.  My parents undoubtedly knew, of course, but wouldn’t tell us because it was our favorite place to play.

My Dad has been gone now for 28 years.  He didn’t live long enough to visit me when I lived in what I consider one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the Adirondack Park in upstate New York.

Dad, still camping, June 1987

He would’ve loved my woods.

I tell people: “Littering is against my religion,” and it truly is.  This was taught to me, lovingly, by my Dad: Have respect for the Earth and all its inhabitants, decades before Earth Day.





Author: Bernice Matherson

Humanitarian, environmental and food activist, blogging on current societal issues. My blogs cover what's in our food and how it affects our health; the effects of our seemingly small actions regarding chemical and pesticide use in and around our homes and its impact on our Earth.

Comments are closed.