I choose to live in the “greenline” of Life. Not because it is safe or secure, but because it is an area that fully depends upon the presence of “Source”. The first time I mentioned this to my friend Lynne this past summer, we were siting beside a creek that runs through her property. She literally laughed out loud and said that she “loved that idea!” because we both understood what I was referring to.
As a wetland ecologist, I often used the term “greenline” to define the presence of a green, vegetated area located on or near the immediate edge of open waters. A layperson can easily observe it no matter if one is standing beside a creek, river, pond or small lake. It is mainly comprised of plant species that are dependent upon the continuous presence of Water. The greenline can contain trees and shrubs, but along small creeks and ponds it is largely made up of herbaceous, grass-like plants. The width of these green zones varies, dependent upon the amount and force of Water, soil type, valley bottom width, general elevation and history of disturbance and erosion events. It is interesting to note that human-related influences seldom bring change to these overall factors. Nature defined attributes are the overlords here …
It is not a “safe” or “comfortable” environment to live in whatsoever due to the fact that Change comes frequently and often in cataclysmic surges from its primary Source, Water. One of the most dramatic differences between the greenline and its upland neighbors is the capacity for Change in both magnitude and timeframe. For example, barring a major disturbance such as fire or tractor plowing, a shrub/grassland site located above the banks of a stream is relatively stable and can be expected to remain constant over a 30-year period. Life in the greenline however, can change in a fraction of that time period and sometimes form a completely new plant community from what was there before.
Disturbances from the sheer energy of moving Water create new surfaces of freshly eroded soil – a prime and fitting location for plant roots to stabilize and catch fine sediments that are rich in nutrients. Most of the grass-like species which occupy such sites develop strong cord-like rhizomes and deep, fibrous root masses. They also are known to have the capacity to filter out chemicals, which ultimately result in improved water quality. Each stream or river is unique, having to develop and maintain an adequate greenline to provide a Balance between the eroding and rebuilding forces of Water over time.
Life in the greenline…
Life is so very similar to the forces found in the greenline. Disturbance comes and Change follows. It might seem better to “secure” myself in the uplands where Change may come more infrequently. If I do that though, it removes me from the Source, or Mystery, with all of its alchemical and edifying characteristics that come with it … which includes nutrients for the Body and the Soul as well as rooting densities that can assure Grounding. Life is Change, after all. Lots of Change.
Rapid change is not an enemy. It is one of the key natural forces that produces some interesting and necessary adaptations. Many of the cottonwood, alder, birch, and willow species require, or at least regenerate much better on, disturbed or open ground. Their seedlings depend on newly developed sand and gravel bars, freshly broken banks, or seasonal deposition areas to regenerate and establish. Similarly, my Soul depends on new sections of inner stream bank for collecting and anchoring “floating seeds” of wisdom and vitality into the openings within my own “greenline” ecotone …. It is the only way I am able to Thrive.