Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletJune 17, 2019

Earth Concerns News

PH Land Is Home to All Creatures by Sister Irene Kruse, CSJ

Our land and all of the surrounding area was originally forested. A forest is a very complex community of plants and animals dominated by trees; New York State fit that description when the colonists first came. A fanciful writer said that a red squirrel could spend its entire life in the white pine without touching the ground once!


Disturbance Communities

            During the course of history, a number of disturbance communities infiltrated the area. A disturbance community is a plant or animal habitat which humans have, in some way, altered. A habitat is not only a house but also a neighborhood that provides enough food, water, shelter and space in a suitable arrangement. When the human element comes in to bulldoze, excavate, pave, build and introduce foreign vegetation, I can’t help but think about the nervous local-forest denizens watching and groaning, “There goes the neighborhood!” In modifying the native habitat, we alter not only the animal and plant life of the original site but also the vital food web, even one strand of which, if cut, can unbalance the delicate scale of “justice,” even sometimes totally destroying it by leading, in extreme cases, to extinction.


The CSJ Presence

            We ourselves have modified the ecology in this area. As a novice, I remember coming here to our land before the ground breaking, climbing over logs, pushing through brambles, seeing the land in the rough. After we had made our presence felt and settled in, we left patches of land areas in a semi-forested condition, encouraging the original inhabitants to adapt to smaller quarters. It took a while for some of the originals to get the point. You may remember pheasants flying into the PH windows and killing themselves because, suddenly there was something there that wasn’t there before. We still hang out the hospitality sign to the squirrels, skunks, eastern chipmunks, deer, raccoons, cottontail rabbits, crows, robins, cardinals, foxes, coyotes, hawks, bluejays, goldfinches, purple finches, woodpeckers, butterflies and all those shy and retiring underground critters.


Living Together

            We need to learn, however, to manage our land, so that both we and the wildlife can co-exist in an environmentally friendly fashion. There is ample room for both of us on our land. Enhancing habitats for wildlife can greatly enrich our lives. As John Updike wrote in his essay, Spring Rain, “ No matter how long we live among rectangular stones, we can still listen in the pauses of rain for the sound of birds chirping.”


(April 1995)