“The civilized man not only clears the land permanently to a great extent, and cultivates open fields, but he tames and cultivates to a certain extent the forest itself. By his mere presence, almost, he changes the natuere of the trees as no other creature does… It has lost its wild, damp, and shaggy look; the countless fallen and decaying trees are gone, and consequently that thick coat of moss which lived on them is gone too.” Thoreau – Maine Woods “If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!” Thoreau Life Without Principle Yesterday I told my friend Xavier that I selected this wonderful house on the river because nature cocooned it from all directions. Each waking hour is a total immersion in nature, and with little effort I hurriedly identified over 50 species of birds from the vantage point of the back deck. In June of last year (2011)we were happy when the municipality began bringing in rocks to help stabilize the river bank, but that bliss quickly turned to sorrow when the excavator driver began shoving down all of the mangrove trees! “Stoppppppppp!” I pleaded, as he brutally began the destruction! “The mangroves! Please, Save a few!” With a haughty laugh he said that they would grow back. With a heavy heart I watched as the excavator destroyed the trees and stacked a barrier of huge boulders as if building a fortress to keep away the enemy. After three weeks of work, they abandoned the project and moved elsewhere and left a queue of rocks that stretched from the public road to the house. For nine months the rocks and I stared at one another. No improvements could be done at my house until the rock work was finished. The work resumed in early April, and after two power-line mishaps and one near miss with a toppled mangrove, the fort wall was finished. The excavator moved further down river and was soon destroying a new section of mangroves. Mother Nature finally bit back, to my delight! Throughout the year, the dawn symphony is one of wonder; the tweets, twitters and rat-tat-tattling of wrens, swallows, kingfishers and flycatchers harmonize with the raucous cacophony of the awakening waterbirds. The river is a complex organism, and all creatures have their pecking order and claim certain areas as their own.
Yellow-crowned night herons and great egrets share the large mangroves a stone’s throw from the deck. Ringed and green kingfishers claim the shaded river bank just beyond the deck and fiercely guard their territories.
For the month of April, the rumbling start-up of the excavator has shattered the tranquil harmony as it churns and screeches to the next victims. It gobbles one mangrove at a time, splintering and hurling it into the river before moving to the next one. Keeping the excavator supplied with material, dump trucks ebb and flow throughout the day. Large boulders replace the trees, until a welcome silence signals the end of the day. The workers go home, and the birds chatter about the destruction to their paradise. How can an artist paint with that horrid sound?! April signaled the final six weeks before the museum show, and for most of the daylight (good light) hours, I was torn between watching the excavator and trying to focus on my painting. Call me “Mrs. Crabbitz,” but I couldn’t stand by as the mangroves downriver from the house continued to fall. What happened to “Nature’s Rights?” How does one find the right person/organization that can halt this damage or make someone answer for what has been done? “Even trees do not die without a groan.” Thoreau Journal