Fallen Trees

The
only road that accesses our community runs hard against our neighbors’
property, land thickly wooded with madrone, pine, western hemlock and
Douglas-fir. In a breeze the woodlot sounds
like a vast musical instrument—a woodwind, a living voice, the sound of the
earth entangled with the sky. The sunlight among the bending branches is liquid.
Crows tumble down the wind like children playing among piles of October leaves.

There are several stumps standing among the living trees—old madrones that have lost their limbs and their trunks have bleached the color of bone—and a western hemlock with roots exposed that threatens to fall across the road. We expressed our concern to the landowner. Now the trees are gone. Anything that could possibly threaten, now or a hundred years in the future, was indiscriminately hacked down and discarded or sold for lumber.

The landowner has the right to cut trees on his own property to safeguard himself against liability or profit from the sale of timber. The problem is in our laws and values and our religious faith in profit.

If any life matters, if our lives matter, then all life must matter. A 200 year-old tree, a small, spotted owl—all life.

Life feeds upon life. That is a reality that cuts as deeply as a polished knife. But the act of the hunter carries an obligation to the prey never to kill needlessly or carelessly, and always acknowledge the debt.

We have failed in that obligation. We  kill relentlessly to feed an insatiable greed. We have built an entire culture upon greed and perfected its machinery. Our economy now depends upon devouring ourselves.

    It is good for man
    To try all changes, progress and corruption, powers, peace and anguish, not to go down the dinosaur’s way
    Until all his capacities have been explored: and it is good for him
    To know that his needs and nature are no more changed in fact in ten thousand years than the beaks of eagles.
The Beaks of Eagles
Robinson Jeffers

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