While jogging through my neighborhood a few days ago, I heard an unexpected sound:
“Oh__ Swee__t Can-a-da-na-da-na-da-na-da.”
The crystal clear notes of a white-throated sparrow instantly transported me from my brick-paved street in Canton, Ohio to the “land of ten thousand lakes” -- the boreal forest of northern Minnesota.
We don’t usually hear this bird call in northeast Ohio, only during spring migration. For about 10 years, I joined that migration north in the early summer to guide wilderness canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA).
The BWCA is truly a national treasure, a place of rest, of indescribable beauty and biodiversity that is still (mostly) untouched by human civilization. For me -- and I know I am not unique -- it has played a critical role in teaching me the value of wilderness experiences and the importance of protecting these precious places for both our own spiritual and personal needs but also for the health and beauty of the earth.
My experiences in the BWCA led me to found Redbudsuds. To name a few:
- Quiet reflection is important throughout life, but especially when you're young and trying to figure out what to do with your life. Our fast-paced modern culture does not make this easy. Being in the BWCA showed me that when I am immersed in nature, my soul can be still. Creating this quiet space within myself made it that much easier to listen and discover what matters. For me, that has meant inspiring others to live more gently. Thoughtfully clean, you might say. This passion infuses every aspect of how I live and strive to compassionately run my business.
- On a wilderness trip, everything is simpler. Daily goals are food, water, shelter. Human impact on the land is immediately noticed. When moving back into modern America, things get complicated. Redbudsuds is a reminder that we can choose simple, and it doesn’t have to feel like a sacrifice.
- Living in Ely, the town on the edge of the BWCA, gave me the opportunity to learn from some our nation’s leading environmental scientists. Interestingly, the town was originally developed for mining and logging, both of which have very detrimental environmental impacts. You can imagine the conflict; this struggle exists in nearly every community rich in valuable natural resources. This struggle continues today as copper-sulfide mining stands as a threat to this sensitive, three-watershed region of the BWCA. I am inspired when I watch their process: normal, everyday people like you and me are taking their spare time to protect the health of the land and future generations while continuously inviting neighbors who see things differently to be a part of the conversation. Clearly the path ahead is not easy, but it’s a fine example of what a small group - that has become a very big group - of concerned citizens can accomplish. It is “normal” people taking courage speak: librarians, restaurant owners, social workers, teachers, business owners, students, pizza deliverers, plumbers, you name it. It causes me to ask, every day, what I can do to live more gently and invite others to take part.
If you’ve ever considered getting involved in environmental advocacy in your community, take a moment this week to learn about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It is inspiring to see what already been accomplished and become part of the journey to protect this national treasure.
Along the way, I give you permission to start dreaming about your next (or first!) trip to experience this amazing area of the world yourself.
Start here: www.savetheboundarywaters.org. More of my favorite BWCA resources are coming in our next #ThoughtfulThursday post. Stay tuned.
Finally, a shameless plug:
If you need some quality adventure soap to accompany your next wilderness adventure or to lighten your daily environmental impact, find everything you need for thoughtfully clean hair and body right here in the Redbudsuds Soap Shop.
Wondering what Thoughtfully Clean Field Notes are all about? Read the first post here.
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