Nothing goes to waste. . . An interesting statement all by itself. In fact, out of context, one would have trouble deciding how a statement like this could be true in modern society. However, when placed in the context of the outdoors, it is a true statement. Within mother nature’s realm, nothing is wasted. Everything has a purpose.
In our world, we have a hard time finding a use for anything dead or diseased. In the animal, bird, and insect world, that is sometimes when an object or being is most valuable. Diseased trees are a veritable diner for many bird species. Amuse yourself sometime by watching woodpeckers as they cock their heads to listen, I suppose, for the sounds of insects who have taken up residence in the dead or unhealthy wood. We have several birds that entertain us regularly as they feast on invaders in an old elm.
At the same time, squirrels have turned that tree into gymnastics apparatus as they leap from branch to branch and race up and down the trunk to irritate the yellow dog who lives in hope of the day he will catch one of the sly creatures. As he sits watching from the ground below, the squirrels gang up on him and throw bits of twig and bark at him. All the while they are chittering and scolding him for bothering them at play on their tree.
Further down the creek bank, some trees have deteriorated even more and literally crumble back to dust. On a warm day, I love to watch all the insects who have made this rotting tree home. As they hasten the tree’s return to the earth, they create tunnels and caverns the Army Corps of Engineers would be proud to claim. After tiring of watching the creatures on the old trunk, I like to examine the earth beneath the trees.
The decomposing tree fashions a soil--deep, rich, and vital. The very energy the decomposition creates makes the affected soil warmer than that surrounding it. Small green shoots emerge here first in the spring. The scent rising from this loamy soil seems to shout vitality and life.
Not only do trees recycle, but so do animals that have succumbed to illness, age, or the always bigger automobile. Lately, I have seen a number of deer carcasses that have provided some dandy feasting for the local coyotes and carrion birds. How completely these animals pick the bones clean has always intrigued me. As nature intended, they leave nothing to waste.
Without these carrion eating beasts, it would be a miserable place out here after a great blizzard such as the one we had in 1986 when so many animals died. As it is, the coyotes fed well and birthed healthy pups the following spring as a result of their good eating.
It is easy to think that downed tree or dead deer is a great loss, but trust me, it isn’t. Every part possible to use was, and soon we’ll see tender shoots in a deeper shade of green than any of those around them emerging from that particular spot. In nature nothing is wasted.