On death

We turn one corner closer to home as the horse trailer rattles down the dirt road behind us, pulled by the same truck we’ve been driving since we first made a family. Dust kicks up a wake as the view of our little piece of the mountain spreads wide open before us.

We ride along in our own silence. What can we talk about that would distract us from this changing view? We are not supposed to comment. It’s all been said before. We should be used to it by now. Perhaps we should not notice. But we do.

What are we supposed to feel? Nothing? Never. I turn my head and see the dying from another point of view.

Death descends on the mountain. Some days we think it’s just the light. We sit at the kitchen table and look through the wavy old glass panes and think maybe it isn’t so. Perhaps we’re just looking for what we know will be. Browning trees, starting at ridge line, sinking down draws, wrapping around the mountain from the beetle killed back side into our view. The green fades. An amber glow of evening light halos the trees even mid day. The beetles are taking our side of the mountain.

It’s a natural cycle, I read. Does that make it all right to see our hillsides dying? And all we can do is sit and watch the hillsides fade.

There is no one to blame but the beetles, and they feel no remorse. I feel so much.

Death, oh death, descending the mountain like a heavy brown veil taking the green needles away in the wind, a blanket under foot as our trails become lined with what was once vibrant life.

I shed tears like needles, and they fall just as plentiful, just as silent, with no one there to hear.

It’s natural, they tell me. So is my anger. And so are my tears now blending with the summer rain and soaking into the opening hillside of dying trees.

4 thoughts on “On death

  1. Gin,

    The Black Hills are being infested with same issue, probably the same beetles. The folks there are really trying to fight. Cutting down all the infected trees, and cutting up into small logs. The idea being that the beetles can’t survive in the smaller logs. Large piles of trees and logs everywhere in some of the forests.

    I wonder what this will mean to the wildlife as well, and the streams and rivers, and fish.

    As a hort. guy, it reall breaks my heart just to see the beauty of green, shadows, dampness, and mulch disappear.

    Hope all is well. 104 in DFW today. Move here and you won’t see beetle damage. It is too hot for them, and we don’t have enough trees.


  2. I’ve seen the process of felling infested trees and cutting them into small pieces in Europe too. It is so sad to see a hillside dead, but at least it seems that the process can be arrested.

    Philosophically I know that thread of sitting still whilst the world around deteriorates due to factors beyond one’s control. Originally one felt secure, however the changes threaten one’s foundations and stability. Suddenly the world seems to be crashing down, whether physically, economically or morally. The tragedy and powerlessness can seem overwhelming. Sometimes moving to seek fresh beauty is the right response.

  3. Gin, I was so hoping the beetles would not make it there. My heart aches just thinking about it so I cannot imagine how much yours aches. I, too, would not take easily the “natural cycle” theory, especially when it seems so unnatural. I am thinking about the time you told me about when Forrest got so sad because you cut down a tree to be your Christmas tree, he must be really torn apart, too. Well, I know you all are. It’s like losing a part of yourself.

  4. agh. i read about these beetles… it hurts that nature is so relentless and uncaring sometimes (more than sometimes?). this isn’t suppose to happen to gin’s mountains… hugs to you…

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