This July 4th morning I woke contemplating why Interdependence Day resonates more than Independence Day. I believe interdependence forms the foundation for a brand of independence that leads not to war and consumption, but to global cooperation and a kinder world that values kinship with all species.

Reflecting on our trip East these past two weeks, every act of kindness, generosity, compassion, and care we received, witnessed, and participated in flowed with the spirit of interdependence woven with the sparkling riffles of independence.

I offer these photos and captions from my trip East to salute a few of the many people who act on principles of interdependence.

Ash tree crew at work
These magnificent people act every day on behalf of interdependence in the wild forests along the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Tennessee–saving one ash tree at a time from the deadly ash borer that without our intervention will mean we lose ash trees forever, along with their ecological complexity within forests we have yet to understand. Thank you Matt Drury (left) of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Josh Kelly of MountainTrue, and Olivia Votava, MountainTrue intern, and Bob Gale (not pictured) of MountainTrue. I joined them in the field one fine day that changed forever how I view the wild woods of the East.
Mark Hopey bird banding
Mark Hopey teaches  volunteer Jesse how to record precise data at the Big Bald Banding Station along the Appalachian Trail. Mark, program director for the Southern Appalachian Raptor Research Center, is tireless in his work on behalf of birds. He’s a gentle educator and meticulous scientist. To feel the beating heart of a tiny songbird held lightly in hand is to know the pulse of the planet and a kinship beyond words.
My son Ian embarked on his first solo backpack trip for several stormy and challenging days on the Appalachian Trail, starting in sunshine just south of Big Bald Mountain. I’m proud of  his independent spirit embracing adventure and self-reliance and his interdependent ways. He is big-hearted, kind, and giving. Along the way, Ian discovered the meaning of the “people’s trail.”
My mother Cate beams in the company of Yolanda who is the bringer of joy to all who come to the Ivy Room happy hour at the Collington retirement community in Maryland. Yolanda knows the residents by name, their favorite drinks, and anticipates every need. She teases a smile from those who are lonely and from her I’ve  learned the true meaning of  honoring our elders.