It’s a beautiful fall day. A day that anyone in their right mind would be spending outside in the sunshine, watching the leaves float down to their final resting place for winter. But here I am, trapped in the house, unable to go out.
I’m not bound in here by any illness or captor who means me harm, I’m in here because they are logging close to my property, and the sound of the feller buncher cutting down trees makes me want to cry.
This is week eight of clear-cutting over 100 acres of trees. They started closer to my property. But over the past weeks, the loggers worked their way further back over the hill, so the sounds of their operation have been muffled and not as deafening.
We have been in a moderate drought since they started. This means that the logging trucks kick up enough dust to mimic the Dust Bowl as they cart the wood away. Fortunately, it is a time of year when my outside work is minimal, or else I would be eating that dust all day long. So I choose to stay indoors instead.
The irony is that I am currently reading Richard Powers’ novel, The Overstory, which is all about trees. It talks about their wisdom, their sense of community and their majesty. It just cements my disdain for logging.
It relates to me on a personal note, as I mourn the loss of habitat for all the critters who are being permanently driven out of their homes. I don’t hear the birds back there. I fear for all the mammals and their cold-blooded companions who are being forced to find another place to live.
Loggers see trees differently
This is the second clear-cutting next to my property in two years. The first one came right up to my property line. They took down trees I used to visit every day with my dog, as I listened to the call of the birds. I felt loved and embraced by the tallest of spires.
After the last of the heavy machinery left, all that remained was a sterile landscape, stripped of its former beauty. I wept for days.
This cutting is a little less personal, since it is further away. I don’t ‘know’ these trees, as I knew the others that I visited every day. But it still breaks my heart to hear the heavy equipment, the thud of the trees hitting the ground. I can’t be out there. And so, I cordon myself off in my house with the windows closed and the radio loud enough to drown out the sounds of the cutting.
They moved closer these past few days, and I’m wondering if this is a sign that the end is near, that they are tying up loose ends with the last bit of cutting that was missed before. I’m ready for them to move on and leave us alone to heal and regroup. I can see them working, the trees falling, and my heart breaks. Please let it be over soon.
I don’t blame the loggers. It is a very dangerous job. They work hard. And they arrive before dawn, waking me with their headlights as they drive back to where they will work each day. They have bills to pay just like the rest of us, and this is their chosen profession.
But I suspect they see these trees differently than I do. I see them as a part of the matrix that encompasses all of creation. Since I am included in that matrix, I see myself as one with those trees. I bless them daily and give gratitude to them for all that they provide for me and the world. To me, they are living and breathing manifestations of the divine.
When I recently walked back in my woods, adjacent to the logging, I saw a salamander for the first time. In the 15 years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen one back there. So, Dear One, what is the message you have for me? Don’t despair. Plenty of life remains, and we will survive this. I hope this is what he is telling me, as this activity pains me so much.
Reading The Overstory during this time somehow gives me hope. This beautiful tome has won the Pulitzer Prize, which should encourage many to read it. And upon reading, you cannot help but reflect upon the premise suggested: that humankind has lost its connection to the Mother. We are so used to abundance that we don’t see how we are destroying creatures older than a generation, for possessions we really don’t need.
The loggers tell me that they like trees and the old ones need to be removed before they fall down. But it is in the very act of decay that the survival of the smallest of creatures is promoted through the symbiotic relationships in our forests.
Sure, the acreage may be replanted to be harvested again in a few years, but something is lost in this transition. Can an ancient heirloom, passed down in a family, truly be replaced by a brand-new substitute that lacks the history or the emotional attachment?
We, as humans, have so much to learn. We worry about climate change and how it affects Mother Earth. I wonder if, instead, we need to worry about how climate change is affecting us. I truly believe that the Mother will survive long after humankind is gone.
I bless the trees
Perhaps it is time to change our mindset. We are not the rulers of the planet. We are only a small part of it. We feel ownership over materials, acreage and such. But is that really true?
We are not the most evolved species upon this planet. I just hope we begin to realize this before it is too late.
I think about how the Mother gives us food, shelter, clothing and water without charge. And yet, so many of us will try to profit from how freely she gives to us. We have so much to learn from the divine beings who surround us.
But in order to learn, we have to listen, to see, to feel. True communication begins with respect and gratitude for the world around us. We are not the most evolved species upon this planet. I just hope we begin to realize this before it is too late.
Until then, I do my part. I go outside and bless the trees that are being harvested. I bless them and the products they will provide, be it structures, paper, mulch, whatever. I do this with the hope that the blessings I invoke upon them will somehow reach the consumers, that they might cause even the smallest of shifts in their attitudes towards nature and how to live more sustainably.
Change is possible. And it is my hope that it begins to seep into the pores of humankind, sooner rather than later. Gratitude, respect and love for all of God’s creatures: Don’t we need this more than an abundance of possessions? How would our lives change with this shift in consciousness? There is only one way to find out. And I hope I am still here to see it.