The Biggest Hearts

Day 9 of The Year

Mourning for/solidarity with/rebelling for: the  water

Today I was reminded of something again and again.

You would think that the people fighting against the culture of destruction would be an angry sort. You’d think maybe they’d be serious all the time, or mean all the time, or mad all the time. Or hard to get to know, or unfriendly.

But in fact it’s the exact opposite.

This rebellion is being led by the ones with the biggest hearts. The ones who love the most, the ones who give their babies millions of kisses, and snuggle with their dogs, and cry over the beauty of the full moon with the cicadas singing.

This rebellion is being led by the ones who tell stories and jokes, cook delicious dinners, know the names of all the plants, and talk to the trees.

This rebellion is being led by people so in love with this world they would stop at nothing to save it, protect it, and defend it.

This rebellion is being led by the ones connected to the land, the ones who listen, the ones who know, or have remembered, the ancient languages, of water, of wind; of plants, and animals.

This rebellion is being led by the ones with the biggest hearts.

And we are alive, and we are in love, and we are winning.

Thank you to all the incredible people in my life. I am blessed beyond words to be alive at this time, in this place, with all my relations.

Thank you for listening,

That is all for now,

Love,

Natasha

And here is a beautiful guest post from my dear friend and fellow activist Jono, listener to the land, lover of the wilds. Thank you for this Jono!!

Road to progress.

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“Progress wears an ugly mask.” ~Edward ‘Red’ Brommer

It was a bright and sunny May afternoon. My day, however, did not begin cheerfully. My winter was bleak and I was having a hard time adjusting to being home and the fresh spring air. The state of the world occupied my thoughts, as a recent relationship was heavy on my heart. So I decided to take a 20 mile bicycle ride to lift the spirits. Riding through the rolling hills of the Susquehanna river valley demands physical exertion, and brings tranquility through meditative revolution of the pedals and the beautiful landscape I call home. By the end of the ride I was feeling elated. Preparing for the last killer hill that ascends to my place, I rounded the corner and there at the base of the hill along the side of the road was the dead raccoon. My heart sank. Coasting by I could see it was freshly killed. Not ten feet past I turned around and came to a halt next to the body. No signs of rabies or mange. It was a gorgeous young male, and looked as if it had been hit in the head. No gore. This is not the way for anybody to die. Let alone to be disrespected by being left along side the road that killed him. I walked my bike up the hill to my home, grabbed gloves, trash bag and knife. In my heart I knew what to do.

Roadkill has always made me sad. Such a waste of a precious life. As a youth I had been subjected to the horrors of our modern mode of transportation. At the age of 10 I had my first encounter with human death when my close friend Joshua was run over and killed instantly as he played in his front yard. The person driving was pre-occupied tending to her baby which was seated in the passenger side floor. She drove off the road, knocking a little girl off of her bike, and stopped on top of Josh, unaware of his body beneath her. My Aunt Susie, whom I’ve never met, was killed as a child when she ran into the street in front of her house chasing after a ball. To this day I brake for lone bouncing balls. Children almost always follow.

Are the drivers or the children to blame in these cases? What about our non-human siblings who suffer the same fate? Blame the road itself.

Deer carcasses are ubiquitous almost everywhere in North America since humans have killed off most (and on the east coast, all) of their predators. To honor them, if they’re not obliterated or rotten, I butcher them to eat, use their bones for tools and soups, and skin for hides. I remember as a child finding a black snake that spanned the entire width of the road in front of our house. Cars continued to squash it as if it were a speed trap cable until my dad removed it to the woods. Dead porcupines are numerous in the Appalachian mountain roads. A friend in Massachusetts honors them by taking their quills and making jewelry. Another friend, Sloth, recently found a Bobcat who met it’s fate by the bloodthirsty highway. A vegan for over 10 years, he honored the great predatory cat of the east by removing it’s hide, and moving the body to a more suited place, of course.

Once, years ago when I lived and worked in New Jersey picking litter, I came upon a Sea Tortoise laying her eggs in a small woodlot behind a strip mall, at least 5 miles from shore and along a super busy highway. I lamented over the unborn, wondering if any of them would make it. My father used to bring turtles home on his motorcycle that he would find crossing the road. I’d have a pet turtle for a day, perhaps, before we would take it to the woods edge to let it continue it’s rambling life style. Then there’s the hated opossums and skunks! No one likes the odor of skunk, especially a freshly smooshed one. Leave it for someone else to clean up. It’s just as good as litter. Right?

In all of these instances, the casualties are looked at as a price to pay for economic growth and the privilege to drive. Collateral damage. But not really, since they’re only animals.

It’s said that plantain is the white mans footprint. While this may be true of some species, at least it has medicinal uses, is food for some and is non-invasive. The same can’t be said for roads, which are the footprint of Civilization and Progress. Indeed, roads are important to our society and were to our ancestors. Without them we wouldn’t be able to import goods to our cities, and thanks to modern ways of personal travel we can reach destinations within hours that before would’ve taken days. Our superiors know how important they are. They also know how vulnerable they are. That’s why so much tax money goes into their infrastructure, maintenance, spraying herbicide (lest the kudzu and ivy have their way), and building even more roads!

We need roads to extract the resources we need as well. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the fuel to drive on the damn things. The first step in development is clearing a path to create a road in order to bring in the necessary machinery and men. Destroying ecosystems in order to bring business and recreation. This process is about to unfold in our beloved Loyalsock State Forest.  Home to rare plants and amphibians, high elevation wetlands and the magical Rock Run. Progress for natural gas, Pennsylvania has declared that Industry shall not be hampered by ecology. In fact, it seems they have declared war on it. The Wilderness Protection Act of 1964 defined Wilderness as “…an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions…” Otherwise roadless area’s. That’s why there was a rush to create roads where there was none, drive cattle and build fences, and drill, baby, drill before the act was implemented.

Roads mean death from the very beginning. I don’t offer solutions, and I am not innocent by any means. We shouldn’t be hard on ourselves for being born into this sick society. But we can and should be conscious of reality, ask questions, and strive, no, demand change. It is asking a lot to halt all new roads from being built, extracting fossil fuels, and work towards an all human powered mode of public transportation, and we shouldn’t expect our government to listen, because they won’t. Nor do we really have enough time. That’s why I understand folks who’d rather watch TV, recreate, or do a hobby then pay attention and feel pissed off and sad. It all seems so pointless when taking in the big picture. But maybe if all of us who do follow reality start paying homage to our fallen earth kin, if we all step out of our comfort zone and fight the monster of progress, intelligently and decisively, we might just stop it. There’s not much time left.

The raccoon is being honored in death. I skinned him, and took the body to a special area in my neighboring woods, next to an old oak, where it could continue it’s course in the circle of being. His hide I plan on making into a hat, and perhaps channel his bandit ways during a nocturnal mission in vengeance for all beings taken by the roads of progress, and it’s many ugly masks.

For the wilds,

Jono

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6 responses to “The Biggest Hearts

  1. Thank you Jono. Thank you Natasha. Beautiful, wise words. Christina and I are amongst those who love deeply. Cuddling is our morning and evening ritual. I love yous and laughter resonate throughout our home. This too I feel is vital. I love you all.

  2. Pingback: The Biggest Hearts | Livin' the domestic life--permaculture style

  3. Awesome to read your words Jono. Thank you.

  4. I am resonating with this deeply. Thank you Jono. Thank you Natasha, thank you all those of you who are using your words to share a deeper understanding of the world and how to see it. I’m getting to know you, the writer so much more, and I love it all even more.

  5. Thank you, Jono.
    My heart also breaks for the victims of our roads.
    I often can only utter, “We were never meant to move so fast.”

    I am blessed to be part of a program that uses roadkill to teach kids, and the kids often get their parents to stop & pick up roadkill so we can use & honor them together. It’s not a solution, but it strengthens my hope to see our youth mourning a lost animal, and marveling at each amazing claw or tooth. Then using their own hands to help skin and tan them.

    My “go-to” daydream involves all the roads falling to disrepair, with greens forcing their way through the cracks, and humans walking deer trails on hard bare feet.

  6. And thank you, Tasha, for your words. Your writing spoke to the other piece that’s been on my mind:

    We insult those lost when we gloss over our moments of joy. Let’s not forget our blessings, or live life less. We need to seize joy fiercely, love our loved ones as much as we can, and make time to laugh & laugh & laugh.

    I have more to say, but need to go now.
    Thank you for listening.

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