Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tuesday Morning

A little after 8 o'clock, I stepped outside to work in my garden.

The sickly sweet smell of a blooming paradise tree greeted my nose as I ventured into the warm morning. Birds sang gaily from their perches and a rabbit, startled by my appearance, vanished around the side of the house.

In the garden, hoe in hand, I whacked at weeds. The hum of machinery made a pleasant background noise. My husband was baling hay; the farms around us were cutting, raking, baling. Hard work all around.

The pleasant morning was broken by a crash. I looked up and leaned on my hoe and closed my eyes.

The timber man has returned. Not on our property, but right next door. The crash was one of the majesties of the forest, falling to her death.

The screech of a chainsaw crashed like a banshee through the morning sounds. My spine shivered.

I wondered briefly if by some miracle the neighbors might be using selective timbering, a type of sustainable forestry that leaves the stronger trees and keeps the forest relatively intact.

Knowing who the neighbors are, I seriously doubt it. These are folks who told me once that they moved down here to make money, to take advantage of these poor southern folks who are land rich and stupid enough to love the land more than the almighty dollar.

So I can't imagine that they are timbering for anything but profit, and that means a clear cut.

I watched a large woodpecker wing her way by me, flying hard and fast, and I wondered if she was fleeing the noise and racket behind her. Maybe she was leaving a nest behind, with little chicks chirping in anguish.

I thought of the deer and the little fawn I photographed the other day, and the bear and turkey that wander through frequently. They all call the forest home, and it will be lost to them.

The United States will fall and be forgotten by God, I think, not because we allow homosexuals to marry or women to have babies or stem cells to be turned into medicine, but because we worship money. We value nothing, not even ourselves, more than the dollar bill.

Jesus did not get tough on the money lenders for nothing, and yet this nation does nothing but worship cash. So it will be no surprise to me when God turns her back on this country and takes her graces elsewhere.

I love the land around me. People do not realize that these forests are not that old. No virgin timber here - prior to the U.S. government's purchase of property that is now National Forest, that land was brutalized and raped for everything she had. The land was scarred and barren of trees. Deep pits of iron mines gouged out the earth.

The land has been allowed to return to her natural state, scars showing. I've been to places in the woods where foundations still exist, where you can see the quarries and pits. Nature finds her way back, and I find comfort in that, even if it what I see falling around me will not recover in my lifetime, or maybe even the next.

Everywhere I turn I see evidence of greed. In the news, in the way our tax dollars are divvied up, or not, in the way the credit card companies charge their mountains of interest. I am not immune, I am human like the rest, and to be human is to be greedy, selfish, self-serving. To be human is to be unable to relate to someone just like you, simply because you do not know them.

To be human is to be alone and to do it all for self. Who cares about the greater good?

Will we ever find a better way?


  1. The only thing we can do is to practice stewardship on land that we have control of for our short tenure here on Earth. I have a small parcel in Floyd County that was clear cut around 50 years ago and before that it was pasture land. I'm working with Jason Rutledge to take out the worst trees first so that the best trees can flourish. Maybe you should give your neighbors a copy of one of Wendell Berry's books .....

  2. It's heartbreaking when people do that to trees. You wouldn't believe how bad it is in the town I come from up north. I do not recognize it when I go back to visit. Everything has been bulldozed. I used to drive around there seething. That's why I had to move away.

    I agree, there is too much emphasis on money. What little thing can you or I do that will help to make this situation better?

    That was funny--God being a she.


  3. so sad....it really angers me when I look around and see the damage greed has done.

  4. To be human is also to aspire to be better - to want to be unselfish, loving, forgiving and supportive of those in need of help. Perhaps if the "entertainment" industry stopped worshiping the rich and the violent and the celebrated and also stopped mocking the Johnny Appleseeds of this world, that tendency would be strengthened and the selfish and greedy put in their place.

  5. One of the reasons we moved here was, like Debi, everytime we turned around more trees, more land, more green spots were slaughtered because of greed. We sort of thought that it would be different here. Sad to say, people are people, just as you write, and this area is not immune to greed and selfishness.

    Even so, I think I have seen a growing trend among people in this era who do aspire to be better. Who appear to care for the greater good. Many of them don't have great influence in government or industry. But step by step, choice by choice, I think the influence will grow.

    And BTW, I think God will allow grace to flow, not because of those political hot topics, but because those quiet little individuals who are trying to make a difference are not invisible to him, just like the sparrow and even the woodpecker!

    I do hope we will find a better way. Jeff's recommendation of Wendell Barry's books is a wonderful one. He deals with everything you are writing about and offers some amazing insight.

  6. Even in Arizona they scrape away the desert and pave over it. House after house, row after row, concrete block, stucco. It's all so ugly. I remember when it was a 30 minute drive across the entire Phoenix metropolitan area. Now it's more like an hour and a half of nothing but concrete.

    We have been here in Roanoke for 18 months and already see businesses encroaching at the end of our street. I guess no place is sacred anymore.

    The Blue Ridge Gal

  7. Amen. The only way that we would allow ourselves to cut down some trees on our property, is if we could find a good enough reason. Turns out one of our best friend's mother needs wood for her stove. It's her only form of heat. I didn't feel bad after that. But I know what you mean. If someone can figure out a way to make money, they will.


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