First Do No Harm

One of our mountain bike rides takes us through an open space conservancy that has been generously left open to the public to enjoy sans motorized vehicles. A few years ago some of the hillsides were seeded with gazania seeds (a particularly hardy type of daisy) so, when we get winter showers, at the perfect time of year, the bloom is breathtaking.

The sanctuary is bisected by a busy road and the flower display is visible to passing motorists. Lovely! But no, viewing them from the road, or walking up the dirt path that allows a closer look, doesn’t satisfy the narcissists who are compelled to tramp with the entire family to the middle of the slope, to take images of themselves. By the end of this three-day weekend, the hillside will be a mess of trampled flowers, never to go to seed, never to bloom again.

I try ever so hard to keep my mouth shut, knowing that the type of person who so cluelessly and selfishly despoils such a wonder doesn’t want to hear my opinion. But…yesterday, with Sally egging me on, I approached a family who was wading through the blooms. I gently suggested that their foray into the field made it less likely there would be subsequent mass blooms next year and other visitors would not enjoy the trampled flowers.

The man of the family took umbrage at my intrusion into his rightful enjoyment. His initial retort was that I didn’t own the hillside and I couldn’t tell him what to do. I agreed that I did not. He followed with the argument that the flowers had been here for thousands of years with no help from me. When I pointed out that this was conservancy property and that the flowers had been seeded, he countered with his erudite opinion that he paid more taxes than I did. It was obvious that reason was not his strong suit, so I bid him farewell and pedaled away.

I returned that way again today, and again found hoards of people following the paths made by their predecessors, looking for an undisturbed area where they could pose for their own selfie. Undaunted, I reminded several groups that the flowers were fragile and wouldn’t return if they were trampled. To my pleasure, most of the people acted truly grateful to have been enlightened. Being an eternal optimist, I take hope. We friends of the earth must speak up, even if we are not always heard.

Both of the above images were taken from the dirt road. No flowers were injured in the making of this post.