Updated: Jul 10, 2020
I’m tired of small spaces.
I’m not talking about my space at work…although I am definitely tired of that too. I’m talking about our woods and water. Our wild places. We’re losing them.
There’s no such thing as a little patch of heaven. Little patches of heaven suck. They are what’s left when sprawl corners us. They are the fall-back position when the value of natural resources on the open market outweigh the value of what our wild places stand for – our foundation, our history, our soul, our frontier gutsy-ness and awareness and appreciation that has been slowly, politically, culturally drained, educated and socialized out of us.
Here, in Upstate NY, the Finger Lakes specifically, our wild is being whittled into manageable tracts where people complain about deer emptying flowerbeds, or beaver dropping trees in parks, or bear moving into the region, and demand local and state government to do something, manage something, just as long as it doesn’t hurt the animals or stop the sale of custom homes on lots with breathtaking lake-views.
Our wilderness is shrinking. It always has been in some way shape or form. Lewis and Clark delivered Jefferson’s Indian Peace Medals up the Missouri. The railroads connected the coasts. The bayou’d south was drained and farmed. Every port deep enough to dock ships exhaled more of this country than they returned. But it’s shrinking faster now.
Here in New York, a practically bankrupt state government legislates its way into the pockets of hunters and fishermen only to spend the revenue on things other than conservation. The Shenandoah watershed struggles with commercial polluters. Montana, Idaho and Utah face less public access and the High and Wide industrial corridor. Bristol Bay sits in the shadow of the Pebble Mine. The list goes on.
How can business intelligence possibly be stronger than the intelligence of living by one’s hands and the land? How can suits beat boots? How can our dollar suck, but still trump the value of keeping our wild places wild– trading away the purest, most character-defining piece of our American-ness because of corporate/economic/political desperation?
How? Because we let it.
We don’t need patches of heaven. We need to fight for heaven in its entirety.