“Call it what you will” Change

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.

10 thoughts on ““Call it what you will” Change

  1. A passionate rap on the land. Well done. Few that I know in my urban city pay any attention to this– closed hearts, maybe? Plants are “pretty” decorative things for yards.
    What have I seen? Well, there were many more birds here in Miami than when I was a kid, and their singing was alive; when it rained, dozens of toads came out on the streets. Now the skies are almost silent. Last year, there was one day when I couldn’t see a single bird. I pointed this out to a few people and no one else had noticed. I have seen only one big toad in 10 years. Last month, bees from a beehive outside my window were dropping like flies on to the tiles below, crawling then dying. I counted around 90 dead bees. Pesticides from neighborhood spraying? Who knows. A squirrel came occasionally and ate some, being picky and choosing which it wanted to eat– maybe, the best of the sun-dried bees?
    As to weather, in the last 2 years, we’ve had more chilly winter days than usual in Miami, which never had any more than a handful chilly winter days, now its a few weeks even. Temp change, colder not warmer. Strange.

    • Hi Sherie,
      Intersting to read your observations compared to John’s above. City and mountain. Visible changes for those who take the time to notice in both places. I find it interesting your comment that no one else seemed to notice. For yes, even in cities there is great natural beauty and hidden wildlife, as you so clearly see. Sad and crazy about the bees… As for temp changes, seems like the only places that have a noticeable increase are the Poles. The rest of us… just seem to be holding onto our hats and facing whatever blows our way.

  2. Hi Gin, good stuff. Glad you’re back in the area, too! We’re spending a fair amount of time clearing bug-killed trees from trails in the Weminuche, no end in sight. It’s nature at work, I suppose, and job security for us. My hope is the younger trees under the dead tree overstory will be the new forest. It looks like we’ll be packing a volunteer trail crew into the Ute Creek Trail area next door to you in August, about 8 miles in at the switchbacks; hope you can drop by! :) John N. in Pagosa

    • Thanks for your note, John. Hiked up Finger Mesa yesterday, across from the Ute Creek trailhead, newly hit from beetle kill with about 75% of the big ones gone reddish brown. And yes, as we see elsewhere, so much beautiful new growth beneath the big ones. There is always hope…

      August we spend camped up on Weminuche Pass working on Fuch’s Ditch. If you see a crazy family running wild in the hills with their horses, slip and cross cut saws, that might be us! We can ride over West Ute and back home and stop in at your camp to visit on a resupply trip! And if you need anything back at the trailhead, please don’t hesitate to stop in at our ranch. Someone will always be there holding down the home front.

      Have a great summer indeed!

  3. Great piece Gin. You share the reality of our time, the sadness of what we do to our earth, and a reminder to take care better care of it. Very thoughtful Gin. I can sense your heart here.

  4. That’s fine writing, Gin: perceptive, passionate and polemical. When will people notice? In my part of the world the aquifers are low, weather has become unpredictable and populations of birds and bees are declining. Yet human attitudes make me feel as if I’m on a runaway train heading towards a wreck. The driver is deluded, the conductor crazy, and the passengers intoxicated or feeble-minded.

    I live near a major airport. People fly like an addiction, travel far in the vain hope that happiness lingers there. Why, when you can be happy on your mountainside and me likewise on the grassy hills a few miles from my home?

    I cannot speak for the US. Here in Britain people bury their heads to avoid the glaring truth. The aquifers are running dry but people kid themselves that a week of rain proves the experts wrong. They drink themselves into senselessness so as to avoid the blindingly obvious. The so-called “environmentalists” have nothing to recommend except wrecking the mountains with forests of windmills so that we can go on consuming – nature being raped by a relative rather than a stranger. I keep on looking back to the words of a Native American friend: these people are young souls, newbies seduced by goods and technology, too immature to see nature and her sufferings.

    Like you say, the Earth is stronger. People could dig up all the coal, extract all the oil and gas, and then humanity would retreat to niche survival of a primitive remnant. What a damning indictment of a species. I’m glad to be getting older, turning fifty and without children.

  5. A drenching hurricane Labor Day. A snowstorm in OCTOBER that left us w/o power 5 days. And then no snow all winter. It didn’t take the environmental science course I took last year to convince me that something is terribly wrong–I’ve seen it for years. We could say it’s just a natural cycle except for one thing–those incriminating photos of the expanding hole in the ozone layer. So I shall weep at all the scenes of cavving icebergs, starving polar bears & penguins, towns ravaged by more frequent tropical storms and higher seas…

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