One advantage to beetle kill. It’s not too hard to find a dead tree to fall across the high spring waters. And then I am on the other side. Where I wanted to be. As if I wasn’t far enough. Not for me.
We are playing hooky from work. I’m tired of fencing and moving the soil from my garden beds by shovel and wheelbarrow from the old place to the new. The sun seduces and we are lured by the sound of the creek beside which we tread, as sweet as the Pied Piper calling…
We walk and walk surrounded by last year’s bunch grass, leafless trees and the swelling buds of the willows. We see old tracks of the moose, set when the ground was still soft and damp. New tracks of elk in the dusty top soil. Our tracks. None others. This matters to me.
Dry and dusty. Bogs that we have held our breath crossing horseback for fear of punching through and sinking in are already firm. I don’t remember when they last were muddy.
The high country looks like early June. Shrinking snow banks and exposed windward slopes. My husband kicks up powdered dirt behind him on his motor bike. Grass crunches underfoot. The creeks are running rather full but clear and we wonder if the high brown waters are finished for the season. It used to peak in early June. Then mid May. This year it seems to me it was the end of April.
But there is no global warming. Then what do you want to call it? Call it something. For something it is. I don’t know what it is or why or how. But I see it. Look around. Can’t you see the beetle kill, once green hillsides turning brown, the dried up bogs, the high country already melting, springs and little creeks going dry in early May?
Just a fluke year? Then how come it’s been progressively worse since I arrived on the scene after the driest year on record, the start of the big drought? I keep track of temperatures and in the last ten years, we’ve not seen much change. But we are seeing the springs drying up, the aquifers dropping, bogs turning solid and hard. Birds arriving and nesting sooner. High waters earlier each year. This is nothing?
It is something. You are not blind.
It is something. I don’t know what, but I’m not clinging to the comfort of a closed mind. I’m not claiming I have the answers or gripping to ones I want to believe in. It’s not politics or religion. It’s real and it’s kind of sad. And maybe it’s a natural cycle. Who knows? But how can you be such a fool to believe that all of man’s raping of the land and burning of fuels to power our ever growing needs and greeds in such a short period of time would have no impact?
Only I believe the earth is stronger than you or me. So though you may have a hundred years of coal left to burn, have at it. Then fade away. The earth might actually be better off without us.
An early summer tourist arrives on the mountain for a stay and I hear a generator being run for a microwave oven while we’re getting our power from the sun and burning dead wood that is all around us. Wood that will burn if not in my woodstove then when? Or will man be God enough to suppress the wildfires and let the old wood rot. Which up here where it is high and dry is longer than my lifetime.
And perhaps that’s it. We forgot how to look beyond our lifetime.
I want to leave this world a better place for my child, his children, and the generations after them.
There are consequences to every actions. Cause and effect.
We are not God. We are not Mother Earth. We pretend we are one and think we can handle controlling the other, but I can’t say I’m impressed. Some say we are stewards of the Earth. I think we’re doing a crappy job. We take what we want. Burn, slash, rip and tear. It’s all about bigger and better, shiny and slick.
I don’t know. I look around on a day like today, with the only human trace a small path through the woods or drawn across the hillside, and I think it’s pretty darned beautiful out there. And I don’t think you or I could do much better than that.
What do you choose to do? What do you believe? And then, what do you see? There before you. Not just books and papers and scientific studies and biased reports. But there before. For real. Open your eyes and look. And here, in a land you tell me love, though often no more than a week a year if you are lucky enough to fit that time into your busy schedule.
If you can’t see it, your eyes are more closed than your heart.