Cycling and recycling – it’s elemental

Posted on July 20, 2009


I was of a mind to write about recycling. I haven’t exactly done it, but here are my recycling-related entries in Flandrum Hill’s Scavenger Hunt.  The purpose was to choose five images that would best represent the five elements: Fire, Water, Metal, Earth and Wood, substituting colors for the literal element if desired.

Fish kill

Metal.  This fish died and washed up on the beach, where it’s fading from silver to white.  Other creatures have fed on the carcass.  Depending on how the fish died, they may be sorry they dined there.  High mercury levels in fish threaten the Great Lakes fishery and recreational fishing as well.  Metal makes great tools but lousy snacks.

Woodpecker Works

Wood.  Woodpeckers drill away on dead and dying trees—and on my siding—in search of insects.  The woodpecker’s holes speed the decomposition of the wood.  Water gets in, other birds and small mammals nest in the holes, and eventually the neighborhood just goes to rot and ruin . . . and then the dead tree becomes part of the forest floor. It’s spongy, crumbly, covered in moss. Seeds fall there and grow. The nurse tree nourishes new growth, and the cycle begins again. 

Nature's compost heap

Earth. In Mama Nature’s compost heap leaves and pine needles and cones and insect debris crumble and decay.  Water seeps through.  Worms and tiny organisms turn it all into soil.

Wet leaf

Fire. Short of starting a fire and taking a picture of it, I couldn’t capture that element directly. Let this fiery color stand in for the flames. They can warm us or destroy us. Powerful things, flames. But water puts them out.


Water.  The element we cannot do without.  It shapes the landscape, feeds the tissues of all living things, moves plants and pollen and creatures of all kinds from one environment to another.

The Great Lakes.  Don’t mess with ’em.  I mean it.