I've never been much of a yard work person...that was Stacey's passion, but with his passing, I've had to pick up the yard work pieces. Admittedly, I just hit the high spots and try to keep the wilderness beat back a little, but I find that I'm enjoying even my little efforts at molding nature to suit my inner vision.
Last Saturday, I spent six hours in my wilderness cutting limbs from various trees and bushes and trimming overgrown and sometimes dead vines from fences and out of trees that they were beginning to take over. This is something that I have to do every couple of years. I always have a terribly satisfied sense of accomplishment when I've finished. The yard looks so pretty and manicured.
Then...we had severe storms. My yard looks browbeat. My limbs are still trimmed, but now there are new broken ones scattered about the yard, and one gigantic limb that I had yesterday morning mistaken for an entire tree blown down across my road is still there...down across my road. I could cut it up and haul it to my wood pile...if I could reach it with my electric chain saw. I don't have 400 feet of heavy orange extension cord to stretch that far, and I can't operate Stacey's gas chain saw. There's something about me and pull-cord yard tools. I have an electric weed-eater, and a riding lawnmower. Pull-cord tools just defeat me!
Now, my little nature control problems are minor, but they have made me think about the Mississippi River flooding. For at least twenty-five years there has been much debate as to whether we made a mistake in putting our extensive system of dams and levies up and down the length of the river. Yes, they have controlled farmland flooding, and, yes, they have allowed us to build closer and ever closer to the river banks, but I wonder...have we been smart to do so? Before these dams and levies were built, those areas were not so heavily populated, so when the areas flooded, it was mainly woods and/or farmland that flooded. There wasn't the huge loss of human life or the huge loss of property that we see now.
I often times think that we should pay attention to where the various American Indian tribes wouldn't live. They didn't live in the less geologically stable areas of the west coast. They didn't put their teepees or their lodges on the very banks of low lying rivers. They didn't keep their permanent homes in hurricane ridden areas.
What is it about modern man that makes us think that we can control the forces of nature, that we can make ourselves totally safe or immune to it? Why do we persist in living dangerous lives in dangerous ways and then crying to the government to fix things for us? Why do we continually see ourselves as victims rather than being pro-active and living more sensibly or safer or, or, or...something?
I don't get it; I really don't. Even the ancient Egyptians didn't live right ON the banks of the Nile. They didn't LIVE in the floodplain, and their homes and businesses didn't get washed away when the Nile flooded each year. They had their crop land there because they depended upon the annual floods to renew and rejuvenate the soil. Maybe that's the way we should look at it. Maybe we should learn to "flow" with nature and work with it instead of fighting it and trying to make it do what we want it to do.
We "modern" people think we're SO smart, but I am reminded of one of my favorite Michael Crichton quotes from Jurassic Park, "Just because we CAN do something doesn't mean we SHOULD do it."
I mean, I don't even manicure my own nails. I leave that to the experts.