Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Let's Consider For A Moment

Over the moon.

Today I drove past a lot of field burning on my way home.

In our area, field burning is a controversial practice. I don't know about where you live, but here there's a divide that pretty much runs between those who work the land and those who drive through it.

Of course that's super-simplifying and not even on point, exactly. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that the appreciation of our unbelievably beautiful environment is not exclusive to any one world view or political party.

I live in a valley that smells like blackberry pie, baking nearly ripe berries in the oven of August. I live in a valley that looks like Utopia, beauty in every direction. I am over the moon with appreciation for this valley. I am a hobby farmer, growing food organically and protecting my daughters by avoiding synthetic fabrics and hydrogenated fats and scary bedtime stories. I am a mom, hoping for the best future this environment can give the next generation... because they're mine, and I want them to drive home in a blackberry pie August too one day.


I live in a valley where opinions are vastly diverse, and Utopia is only as attainable as a topic of the next conversation around the woodstove at the General Store. I live in the world, and my view of it is inherently skewed. How about you? Can we agree that perspective is deeply personal, rooted, branching out and usually bearing fruit of some kind before the owner chooses to share it?

The field burning was beautiful. I have a new camera (today!) and I really wanted to take some pictures of it. But then I got thinking about the people I know who literally stand on a street corner in our nearby college town protesting field burning with homemade signs and passion. They give up family time to do this. (Incidentally, in our nearby college town, a person can hire protesters to support any cause. What a concept... for another post.)

I don't know very much about their position. Field burning is much older than even my grandfather's generation; it was in practice by Native Americans before any Whites settled the West. It adds nutrients to the soil and clears unwanted cover crops and the stalks of harvested grass seeds. I'm sure the impact on air quality has something to do with the protests, and I'm equally sure I should be ashamed to not understand the issue (particularly given my willingness to post a blog about it). But frankly I'm more interested in that exact ignorance I possess.

How do we come to drive by a field burning, or a protest in progress, and just keep driving? How do we (and by "we" maybe I just mean myself) become immune to, or at least overwhelmed by, the message of the day? Last Sunday the pastor of our church mentioned in an illustration that he's a news junkie (me, too) but sometimes has to deliberately tune out for a few days, because the sheer number of messages start to drown each other out. And then the listener becomes calloused.

An acquaintance stopped me in a local bookstore the other day. He wanted to loan me a book and to ask me to ghostwrite (his word, which was very funny coming from a farmer in his late 60s) a letter to a congressman. This farmer wanted to write a letter in favor of "guerrilla gardening." He thought maybe I could read the book he was lending me, and then write a letter to the lawmaker in favor of this practice.


Before that day, I had never heard of guerrilla gardening. One of this movement's favorite practices is to make a "seed bomb" of clay and straw and pumpkin seeds, and lob it into public park flowerbeds. The idea behind this is to grow some food on public land that the gardener can then harvest. Okay. So I know more about seed bombs than I do about field burning.

But I know a few grass seed farmers who burn their fields. And I know a few moms whose kids have asthma. And now I know a dairy farmer who advocates urban non-lawns. Perspective. It keeps broadening.

(Did I mention my new camera has multiple lenses? Including wide angle? My perspective broadening may even be recorded digitally...)


Chickie Momma said...



Did you post about something?

Misty said...

wide angle, as in: Fish Eye Lens???

I am so jealous!