FRONTIER

Posted by | March 06, 2011 | In the woods, On the water | 2 Comments

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 becasue of corporate/economic/political desperation?

How?
Because we let it.

We don’t need patches of heaven. We need to fight for heaven in it’s entirety.


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2 Comments

  • Pete says:

    Inspiring. I agree we’ve lost our priorities. Everything has been streamlined to “save time”. So what do we do with this time? Work more. Spend more time indoors and become further and further removed from the outdoors.

    I acknowledge the problem but how can I make a difference? I donate to DU every year. I’ve helped in river clean-up projects. What else? I’d like ideas. Cause maybe I could do something like that for a living.

    • Fishingpoet says:

      I think, in the end, we make a difference by being aware and donating our time and being good stewards of woods, water and wildlife. I too would love for my vocation and avocation to overlap much more closely…and I’d like to think that, as a writer, I’m getting there. My friend Jeff Kelble was a fishing guide on the Shenandoah, Susquehanna, and New Rivers. A fish kill on the ‘Doah gutted his business, so he saddled-up, turned to education and advocacy and is now the Shenandoah Riverkeeper. In the end, (aside from the reality of a paycheck) you’ve got to be passionate about what do for a living, not just how you live. Call it me being an idealist, or call it the trappings of a mid-life crisis, but I believe passion for avocation and vocation are not mutually exclusive and I’m at the point where I’m ready to saddle-up as well. There’s too much at stake not to.
      Thanks for the comment Pete.

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