why is the nature of mankind…

20Jul07

….so bent on contradicting itself? 

I really woke up this morning concerned about the contradictory values of humans recently. Deep in the rural environment this nature is really evident.

It’s the suburb owner that moves in next to the farmer and leans over the back fence and tells him not to sell to a real estate company so they can subdivide. However, they forget the farmer that was bought out to provide the space for the home they are living in.

It is the small town store owner that only caters to the tourists. They will offer you anything a tourist would want – t-shirts, coffee cups, walleye lures, local maps of the area and then complain because the tourist make noise, make a mess, make more money and etc…. They depend upon the dollars of them to survive and loath them in every sense of the word.

We admire our neighbors and pat them on the back while they sell out to large real estate companies. Then they are unwelcoming to the retiree and new guy in town.

My daughter she tells her grandma that she loves living in the country because she is a country girl and tells her mom how she wishes she lived in the city – because she is a city girl. In her defense she is eleven.

In June the Colville Indians come. They visit this little island that’s about a five minute drive from my house. When they do they chant and pray for the salmon. The teepee’s go up, the fires start and the drums are heard on my front porch. They pray for the salmon to come back – and honestly, in a different way I pray with them. I’ve avoided taking photos of this activity out of respect for the tribe. This year I watched as the police went in and told them to leave. They came when the Washington State Walleye Tournament was in full swing and thus they were asked to leave. Those who are respecting the land and actually offering it prayer was asked to leave because they may offend the tourist. When I take a boat ride on the river we stop to pull out old water bottles, dirty diapers and beer cans. Something to think on.

We changed this land from the moment we stepped on it and it is a shame all the way around. I wonder though; I look at the National Forest that surrounds me and I wonder what do I want it to be? What is my wish? I’m selfish enough to not wish myself out of it. I’m concerned enough to wish harmful impacts out of it.

Right now my home is a secret and I don’t want guys in brown jackets and funky hats parading people around and pimping out the land.

When I moved here I came because this spot, this little micro-climate, of just enough rain, wind and snow and I felt it is (was) the best kept secret in the world. People sit back and tell me that Eastern Washington is a desert region. I nod, I smile and I agree with them.

I dunno. I think maybe our biggest mistake as human beings, maybe the most deceptive contradiction is the idea that we can manage this land. Yellowstone is managed to the highest level and I would never want this place to be used in that kind of way.

I think that mankind hates and loves the land.  I’m perplexed by the fear that is generated by the urge to control the land – and I believe that the more they attempt to control it they destroy it.  But mankind loves the land too, right? It is an odd love hate relationship that stuns me. I say “attempt to control” it because the control is an illusion. You cannot fight the power of water, and anyone who has really dug in a creek and tried knows how silly water makes you look…  They can topple a mountain but they cannot do it without destroying us humans too. (Check into the history of Libby Montana for example.) And they can log off a mountain and the truth? We tax payers actually save money if we paid the loggers to not take down one tree. Because our tax money provides clean up and this clean up is more expensive then if we actually paid local loggers to not log.

What I keep wondering is there a way for mankind to step into nature and allow it the right to simply be – without dumping a van that broke it’s axle and just leaving it on the side of the country road. Can we photograph a flower without trampling the bed. Is there a way to walk in and walk out without taking? Nature seems to adapt to us irregardless of what we do to it – but why would anyone mass log a mountain when we know what erosion does? I keep falling onto the idea that just because we can does not mean we should.

See my confusion kind of falls down to one simple idea. I think, that maybe even those who think they can take care of the land – can’t. And often I see that those who say they love the land – don’t. Forest management has been a clumsy attempt at control at best since the first time Roosevelt declared these spaces as belonging to the nation. They have waffled on issues – let the forest burn, don’t let the forest burn – sell off the timber, don’t sell off the timber – drill, now don’t drill and these bad ideas just keep recycling themselves.  And every new congress promises a better set of rules that thus far have never worked. I’m not so egocentric to know what will work.

But I do believe praying for the salmon to come back is probably a really fantastic first step. 

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10 Responses to “why is the nature of mankind…”

  1. 1 montucky

    I wholeheartedly agree that praying for the salmon to come back would be a fantastic step for us to take because that would indicate our willingness to repudiate the ridiculous idea that we are the key elements of a human-centered universe, an idea which I personally believe will ultimately lead to our extinction as a species.

  2. I wonder why the Indians don’t think of themselves that way? (as the center of the universe) I also wonder why even when we keep making the same mistakes we don’t really learn from them? Again I’m afraid I ended up producing more questions than answers – one of these days I’ll have to work on that.

  3. 3 montucky

    There’s always more questions than answers. When you realize that, you must know that you’re on the right track!

    I think the Indians individually lived so close to the land that they just naturally understood how it all works together. “Civilization” breaks that tie.

  4. 4 montucky

    I know exactly what you said about “managing” Yellowstone. It’s for that reason that I seldom visit the parks. They have become so “managed”, manicured and polished that they appear to be more like exhibits than natural places, despite the fantastic scenic beauty. Most often I prefer a place in the wilderness where visitors are extremely rare and I can just blend in and be a part of it. Nature will do the managing all by herself.

  5. 5 Stan

    Friends of Kettle Falls. I lived in the area in the late 1940’s and early 50’s. The flood had already killed the salmon run, The town had been moved up to Myers Falls and the population was 740. There was a theater.. anyone remember the name? and just coming into town from Colville, on the left side of the road was a trailer park where I lived. We were crowded between rails and road and the people were a motley collection of loggers, bridge workers and, quarrymen and gandy dancers. There was an odd seperation of the housed folks from the trailered ones.. this is where my first memories arose, just ten years after the last salmon run. I would love to communicate with anyone who has been around there for the last 50 years or so.
    Stan Cooper

  6. Hi Montucky,

    I completely agree with you. It’s the management aspect – but as I’ve said before I’m a bit more like you where I’ll walk for ten miles if it gets me “lost” in the woods. Being “lost” usually means I feel like I’m part of the scene. I visit the parks because of my kiddo’s and because it’s either that or visting waterparks with even more people around. ick…. so natural parks is the way I go. And I don’t reget it however, I do not wish it for the land we live in. And that made me wonder.. what is it I wished for? That turned out to be a more complex question than I seemed to have answers for. I’m glad you bowed up and discussed this with me – I really appreciate it because I am looking for answers! :o) Thanks for providing some of those!!

  7. Hi Stan, sorry about the delay in commenting (visitors). First, thanks for commenting. If I get any messages regarding your comments I’ll pass them along. I (by the way) love the way you describe how the town looked in the past. It was a commentary on the past that made me think these odd ball thoughts in the first place. Right now the trailor park you mention is still there but pretty much slowly going away. In Kettle Falls there is a new park there but it’s right on the water – so the kids that live there can out fish the best of them! My kiddo’s go to Orient and they don’t really distinguish people by homes vs. manufactured homes. As a matter a fact one of their pals taught Kirsten how to fish without a pole and catch a fish with her bare hands. (Bully for her!) Thank you for stopping by!

  8. 8 Stan

    Aullori
    Thanks for the response. Actually, I am writing a novel about life in Kettle in 1951. My folks owned that trailer court and my dad had the only dance band in the area (played frequently at Freddie’s Tavern and in the grange halls from Chewelah to Orient and Omak) I’m trying to get as authentic a feel as I can. I have two sibs who can still remember the time there. My folks are passed as are all of the characters save we kids.

    My interest in asking questions about Kettle is to do the place justice. No one, to my knowledge, has written about the area with any descriptive power accept Sherman Alexie. My view is white trailer folk who happened to have the cultural edge in the area. The band lived at the TP and wood shed’ed in our living room at the “cabins”.

    By the way, the land was 5 acres and in 1951 there were at least a dozen virgin Ponderosa, under which an odd collection of trailers, tents and packing crates made to look like trailers stood. There was also a collection of boxcars on side track, in which the families of the gandy dancers lived. It was kind of like up scale what you would expect the Jews were taken to the camps in.

    I truly want contact with those who still hold the memories

    Stan
    folktraveler@gmail.com

  9. Nice thought provoking article. Streams I used to wade are now lined with houses. Small lakes I used to catch and eat fish out of are polluted. Ellijay, Georgia probably has more Realtors per person than any place in the world thus the rapid demise of its pristine wilderness areas.

  10. Thanks for sharing your thoughts paintingartist – I have to agree with you there. Watching it all fade away is probably the most heartbreaking part.

    http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2007/august/trout-main.php

    This is an article in the Smithsonian magazine that I felt brought home what I’m talking about. The theory? The scientists are considering poisoning the water systems in areas of Montana in order to restock it with native fish. (The article is pro this stance while I shudder at the idea.)

    I just can’t fathom why they don’t leave the land alone and let it heal.


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