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Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Call, Part Two

To continue from YESTERDAY yesterday why haven't I been answering that call to wander and to write. 
Yes, I've been busy but it is more than that.  The woods have changed and may soon change even more.
I feel a bit like a person who is getting ready to die. Perhaps comparing things more to a move would be a bit less morbid but the death metephore feels fitting.
The first wound came when the government needed to do some work on our land.  Back around the turn of the century the hilltops and hillsides aroundWaverly were covered with gas wells.  There were enough of these wells that many of them were connected by long continuous belts or cables that turned gears. A gear at one well turned the belt that then ran to another well and turned its gears which were connected to another one. I am starting to tell more than I know so I'll stop. Just understand that there were many, many wells up here on these hills. Eventually the wells were abandoned, the woods grew back in around the well sites and nature took its wondrous course. 
Then the trucks moved in.

One problem is that as these old wells and their accompanying storage tanks aged they began to disintegrate, leaking natural gas onto the ground and into our streams.  That isn't good for anyone.
So the government of West Virginia has contracted a company to go into the woods, cap the wells and remove the old tanks.
  Yes. it needs to be done but you just can't cap a deep well in the middle of the woods and remove tons of metal without also moving a lot of trees and dirt. No matter how careful they are about restoring the ground around the site, the land owner is left with a large area in the middle of the woods with no trees and soft ground planted with sparse grass. A place that won't be welcoming to wildlife other than browsers for several years. 

Now comes the question of how to treat this new grassy plot in the middle of the woods. I forgot to mention that this plot also has a soft, grassy, yet muddy road leading to it.
You may think, just leave it to grow up but that means that invasive plants will grow up first. If you are lucky it is just Multifloral rose mixed in with the blackberry briers but you are also likely to have a good crop of Tree of Heavens (Ailanthus altissima) a horribly invasive tree that takes over the woods, growing from its roots as well as from the thousands of seeds that it produces.

That's if you don't mow.  So maybe you decide to mow.  Now you have a sunny spot in the middle of the woods that changes everything around it. More sun comes in more briers grow around the edges. The deep woods plants disappear. The whole environment changes.  There is no reason to walk to or near the area.  If not covered with briers, it is too muddy to walk over and besides, there is little to see. Not yet brush for the birds or small animals - not inviting. . . not calling.
What were nice, narrow, shaded, woodland paths are now wide, sunny, muddy swaths of sparse grass. Hot in the summer; dull in other seasons.  There is little chance of sneaking up on a turkey or deer or anything else as I walk through the open squishyness.
A side effect of all this mowed area is that since we are out there mowing, why not mow more.  
 The Meadow I wrote about last August became chopped weeds this fall. 
The butterflies that filled it last September as they migrated south or laid eggs to winter over went somewhere else this year. 

So how is my response like someone waiting to die?  I've read that when a person thinks they may die they begin to cut ties so less people will be hurt. For me it is the opposite. I have a strong desire to cut ties so that I won't be hurt.  Caring is hard.  If I no longer care then I can't be sad when it is gone.  If I didn't care about the Jack-in-the-pulpets, the Goldenseal, the Wild oats, White violets, Wood poppies, Solomon's seal, Bloodroot, Squirrel corn and the oh-so-many ephemerals that inhabit small pockets of dark shady woods then I wouldn't mind so much when they are gone.
 A final blow came this fall when the owner of the land next to ours passed away.  I didn't know her but I did know that she didn't want her land timbered.  It was a strip of woods that had gone un-timbered longer than any section on our hill.  Hers was the woods that had the most rare and endangered plants.  Her woods also provided the shade that was allowing these same plants to slowly creep onto our land.  
A relative now owns the land with plans to have it timbered.  He needs a place for his grandchildren to ride four-wheelers. That's his right.  It's his land and that is how his family has fun. 
But the sadness is enough to bring a depression that begs escape.  If I disconnect now to the land I won't mind so much, will I?  Maybe this is a good time to move. 
I know my writing isn't important.  It mostly exists for my own enjoyment. 
Just because I feel called into those woods doesn't mean I have to go.  If my friends called me to jump off a bridge I certainly wouldn't do that.  
painting: My Open Heart by Mary Howard
So this is my quandary. I miss it so that my heart breaks - but only a little at a time.  I still hear a calling. It follows me into my sleep and sends me flying over soft valleys of ancient trees
A recent beautiful day drove me into a dark cave of grouchiness. That is when I think about what I'm missing in my attempt to drone out the voice I hear.  
To be free I may be compelled answer this call that seems to be written in bold font across my heart; answer it without fear, without regard for my own sadness - or my own anything - just leap out there and follow.
So we'll see.  
If it is God with an intellect, intent on calling me than She must help me soon.  I could go as I might go to a sick friend. I could try to be better company, hiding my sadness ignoring my breaking heart. I will try to enjoy what is still beautiful . . . to close my eyes to the scars and open wounds . . . to open them, accepting what I am given.



KaHolly said...

I hear you.

Karen said...

I understand how you feel. I hope the changes won't be too detrimental to your serenity. Your writing is wonderful.