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Lost in Time

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller


I experience no past and no future. All is present for me. When family talks about something we did, I refer to it as if it just occurred. They tell me that it was ten years ago. My mind keeps things from yesteryear current and the distant future as if they will occur immediately. 

In one sense, this is good. I plan Earth Care for coming centuries as if it will occur in the immediate future. Sustainable living conditions for my grandkids 50 or 100 generations hence is an immediate concern. Care for ecosystems and nature niches today determines the health and wealth of great-great-great-grandkids we will never meet. It is hoped behavior during my short life will provide sustainable conditions for distant generations. 

We each have unique greatness and limitations. For those that know me, it becomes obvious the interworking of my mind blends the distant past and future into the present. Friends I danced with at a 1966 teenage dance and the discovery of climbing nightshade that year, using the book Shrubs of Michigan, in my mind just occurred. 

I still feel the warmth of a girl’s embrace on the dance floor and I can see the location of the climbing vine on a log that has surely decomposed during the ensuing years. It’s senseless to family and friends when I refer to things past as if they just occurred. They must transfigure what I say from a different time to understand me.

Living conditions 1000 years from now are reflected in actions taken today. Much of what I do to enhance biodiversity at Ody Brook is temporary. We can only maintain conditions that maximize living conditions for the greatest number of species during our short lives. Conversely, we can eliminate living conditions that support species and healthy habitats that support distant generations of grandkids. Hopefully our kids and grandkids will learn Earth Care from us and each generation will pass it on to next.

Plant and animal genetic diversity provides future generations opportunities for gene splicing that might prevent diseases or provide medical advances that we cannot anticipate. When species disappear, future generations have lost opportunity. Plants develop protective chemicals and some animals adapt to tolerate them. Keeping species alive is important for the future. Protecting wilderness where many species live is essential for people. 

Some people wonder why it is important to protect things like the federally endangered Karner Blue butterfly or the Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly. It costs money, human effort and requires protecting habitat that some want to eliminate so they can use it differently in the present. Different use is temporary and usually lasts less than a century. This could result in the loss of species that live there. I refer to protecting National Monuments from proposed reductions as Earth Care responsibility for future generations. Our yards also need Earth Care.

I go by many names: Steve Mueller legally, Ranger Steve professionally, and Butterfly Dreamer spiritually. I do not think people will easily recall Steve Mueller. It is trite and forgettable. Ranger Steve is easier to recall but many confuse me with Ranger Rick who is National Wildlife Federation’s raccoon much like McDonald’s “Ronald McDonald.” Butterfly Dreamer is an important part of my passion for preserving healthy economic, social, and environmental conditions for coming generations. Butterfly Dreamer lives to protect the future.

My eccentricity of having no past or future allows me to live in a manner that serves grandkids yet to be born centuries from now. Generations from future centuries are already in my “present.” I have not had the opportunity to meet those kids. If all goes well, they might meet me through writings like this one. My question for society is, how many people will read this as a passing curiosity and how many will maintain a portion of “their” yard with wild species to benefit generations of grandkids yet to be born? I place “their” in quotations because we do not own our yards. We hold them in trust for those that come after us.

I am lost in time with no past or future. It helps me live with past generations that made my present possible. It allows me to maintain healthy conditions for those that come after me. It is how I talk with those generations.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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