I am going into town later, so this morning I treated myself and the dogs to a brisk morning walk on the Town Trail.
Walking in nature is so emotionally restful, even when it may be physically challenging, because everything appears to be right in the world. It’s not of course. For instance my town’s trail follows the path of the sewer lines through our wetlands and frequently crosses the gas lines. One has to wonder what discharges, planned and not, are happening.
Even the fields near home where I most frequently amble are down hill and thus down the water flow from an old dump. What is flowing through our abundant ground water and into our notoriously shallow water wells? I know that almost every house in my neighborhood has had someone (usually a woman) die from cancer.
Though the hay, and weeds and briar bushes grow, how have they changed? There does not seem to be abundant wildlife for an area that is being managed to support them. My neighbors do not harvest their fields. Some are mowed regularly, but long, to feed the deer. Some areas are left with tall wildflowers and milkweed to feed the bees and butterflies, only being mowed every few years to keep it from becoming forest. The woods are pretty much left alone, though I do harvest some of the down trees for firewood. I walk early in the morning, and though I do see tracks in the snow, for the most part they are deer prints. Very few rabbit prints are evident. There used to be more wild turkeys. This year I have only once seen turkey tracks near the house, along with I fear, coyote tracks.
What of the die off of the tall pines and Poplar trees? Is it a natural progression? Or is something very wrong? I do believe we may have Ash Borers as they are dying young. Just yesterday I noticed a whole swath of them had fallen over along an old trail in my neighbor’s wood. I don’t have a wide enough, or even local, knowledge base to tell if I should be alarmed by this. There even seems to be a lack of bugs in the soil. Birds are prevalent. Perhaps it is that the canopy here is so high, that it seems like there are not as many as should be. Or maybe it is just that the species we have differs greatly from just 30 miles away.
But I have been digressing. Explaining. When I walk in the fields and woods, it seems as if everything is fine. One has to be informed, or an old timer, to even question environmental concerns. Then to connect them to the politics of both parties, the country and the world. When I come home and turn on the computer, it all comes rushing in. The stupidity and greed that fuels our devastation of the very community, country and planet that sustains us.
A friend has written a book to help spiritually support young climate activists. She is a Pastor. She points out the sobering fact that, today’s youth, have never known a time when we weren’t in a climate crisis. Nor have they known a time when we weren’t at war, but I digress. Though they are related. War is a terrible burden on the environment.
I have been hiding for a long time now. Exposed multiple times a day to the bad news. Bruised by social media, books, TV, conversation. And then of course, a Pandemic that revealed so many people, all over the world and right next door, who couldn’t be bothered to care enough for their neighbors or even relatives, to accept a minor inconvenience in their lives. Does the environment stand a chance? I don’t think so.
So off to the woods I go. While I still can. While they are still here.