Monday, January 15, 2007

the sound of violence

I hate to sound dramatic. Maybe it's this relatively weak cold snap that has me in a somber mood, but more likely it's the sound of logging equipment working over 48 hours straight now, all day and night Sunday and today. As I mentioned before, a parcel of land nearly adjoining mine is being logged. Not only that, the last remnant standing trees on tax forfeited land two miles south of here are also being logged. The clearcutting can now be seen from the road in the latter logging.

The incessant whine of the cutters and chippers and shredders penetrated my dreams last night. Yes, they're that close, I can hear them inside the house. I dreamed over and over that I looked out and the view I knew and loved was completely gone. I even double checked when I woke up for real, just to make sure the trees across the swamp were still there. Now, strictly following property lines, they should not log anything directly across the swamp from the new house, and there should be a thin buffer protecting the view where the logged land adjoins the neighbor's land to the south. But how can logging machines see property lines in the dark? I am still concerned.

But I don't think my dreams last night were entirely about my pretty view; Nature, after all, has a way of taking care of those things in swift and unpredicatable ways (remember the Boundary Waters blowdown of 1999) and I should not be selfish enough to demand that my particular view remain intact. Rather, I think my dream represented my fears about the bigger picture: losing the natural world that I love. Whether it is lost bit by bit to development, or in a bigger way by human-induced climate change, or by extraction-based practices such as clearcut logging, I am scared that the landscape I love is disappearing. In the case of logging, they say it is a renewable resource, that it will grow back. But when they shred every little bit of wood and leave nothing to the soil but tread marks, will it?

I told The Hermit tonight, if I didn't have kids that depended on me, I just might go out and confront the monster and tell it what I think of its greedy, short-sighted practices. But what I would do might be classified as "eco terrorism", which carries with it harsher sentences than would the assault and murder of a fellow human being. Even if I didn't harm a single human soul. Is it wrong to protect, or protest against the destruction of something I love if that something is not human?

I hear more than the whine of the machines. I hear the cries of a thousand trees as they die a violent death. Excuse me for being dramatic.

11 comments:

PJ said...

no, I can only imagine how that whine sounds...it really is hurtful

Anonymous said...

I cringe every time I see logging, even "best practices logging." When I was pregnant and awash in hormones, I was reduced to tears by the sight of our neighbor cutting down a 100+ year old oak. (The feeling would have been there even without the pregnancy, but the tears might not have been quite so hysterical.) Not that I don't realize the role wood plays in our society, but clearcut logging, mercenary logging, CARELESS logging makes me angry, like watching a rape.

Be as dramatic as you like.

Anonymous said...

When I did pre-development site assessments, I would walk out on gorgeous native prairie, noting grasses, sedges, flowers, birds - and knowing that if I ever got to come back, the scene would be dominated by a pumpjack. There would be a road up to it, and non-native plants creeping outward on all sides.

More recently I worked on the reclamation end of the process, after a pumpjack had done its decades of work and been removed, the road had been ripped up, new topsoil spread, and a "native seed mix" planted. I would walk through the dense stand of two or three grass species and assorted weeds, noting how excellently the ground was covered (stakeholders happy, yes). Then I'd look around at the surrounding native grassland - a bit shabby with weeds spreading from the old site, but still beautiful - and know that the reclaimed area was nothing like it. But the percent cover was equal or often much higher in the reclaimed area, so it was counted a success.

A bit here, a slice there. Roads piercing in, weeds spreading out.

Eventually I couldn't stomach it any more.

But I haven't found anything more effective to do about it. I can stop using the oil, but someone else will use it. I can buy some land and treasure it, I suppose - although nobody can stop an oil development.

And so I mourn. I mourn with you, and with whoever or whatever mourns each tree and grass and sedge and flower.

pablo said...

I suppose you've read The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. I'm sorry about the incessant machine sounds. When we had our roof replaced we had to leave to escape all of the hammering, and that was just for one day.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain.
MAW

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it seems like the whole process is accelerating very dramatically in the past few years. I used to think it was just "the Boom", but now I'm wondering if it's the cumulative effect of population growth. Dreams are so telling, so wise.

GTR said...

'Tis OK to be dramatic. At least you care and can tell otheres about the issues...

Anonymous said...

The greatest ironry of it all is that the pulp derived from these aspen trees produces a high quality gloss paper. The mills where these trees (fiber)are destined, biggest customer is Playboy magazine and the likes..no crap.

Deb said...

I guess I should say, it's in my Minnescandinavian heritage to be apologetic about any rant that approaches being dramatic. I apologize for apologizing for being dramatic. :)

pablo- I have read The Monkey Wrench Gang, and Hayduke Lives. I admire Abbey's writing and passion. There was an article in this month's Orion magazine, and I don't know if the text is available online, but it discussed some of the recent "eco terrorism" cases and how the defendants were prosecuted, and their motivations. Seems frustration with the system is epidemic these days.

not-so-anonymous: ;) I understand thirty year old aspen, grown at this latitude and harvested with fury, has the propensity to not make pages stick together when they are um...used. (inside joke here! Laugh with me! )

The machinery is louder than ever tonight, they have cut an alley to the edge of the swamp along a property line; I'm sure if I look out my bedroom window I'll be able to make out the lights of land raping machinery. I'll be sure and post a photo essay when all is said and done.

Anonymous said...

Yes, take some photos so we can look back in a few years and compare. This is so timely, a planted pine forest nearby vanished, clearcut in a matter of a few days last week. It was so striking to leave for work and drive past a forest and then come home from work and drive past a clearcut stump field.

Deb said...

FC- substitute aspen for pine, and...you get the picture. And it ain't pretty! I just wonder what's happening to the bears that may have chosen that acreage to hibernate, or the birds that roosted there for the night...oh that's right, they'll come here, more birds for me!

There's something wrong with an economic system that demands this...