November 24, 2004


I've cut down far too many trees over the past couple of years, due to drought and fire ad bark beetles. Maybe this is a better way to look at it. Anyway, it's a bit pedestrian in spots but it just came to me for no clear reason - usually a sign that someone in my head is trying to tell me something.

Apparently Chief Seattle never really said, "How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?" but that doesn't make the idea any less valid. So here:

On Chief Seattle's Land, a Century Later

It's my land. I have the deed,
The title to it guaranteed.
With the bank, I own this plot
It's mine to sow or mine to plow
Mine to wreak or ruin. Not
A soul can tell me What to grow
Or harvest on my lot.

And yet.... and yet the pines I've sown
Have flourished, some, and some have grown
Then withered. Some died right away
And some, the best of all, have sprung
From seeds I never planted. They
Found soil they liked and and trees that hung
Above with sheltering shade.

There's flowers, too, the 'volunteers'
From breeze-borne seed in previous years.
They're not at all to do with me.
I could sow "wildflowers" from a can
But those aren't wild, like the free
Gift of the sun and passing rain
The winds leave in their lee.

I could, of course, rip out the weeds
Plow soil under, hoe and seed
And reap a docile, measured crop.
I could, but still, my planted field
Would be a hostage to each drop
Of water cloudbanks choose to yield
Or floods, if they choose not to stop.

However close I clutch my deed
My sovereignty's not guaranteed.
Those others who once lived here knew.
They held it jointly with the rain
No trace of them remains here, Who
As steward, not as suzerain
Lived on this land as now I do.

Posted by dichroic at November 24, 2004 02:25 PM

Happy Thanksgiving! No, you didn't offend at all. I'm looking forward to seeing what this new med can do and whether I'll be able to get in on it! I'm still stunned and grateful to have most of my life back, I cannot imagine the joy of having ALL of it! As for trees, we have a huge one that needs to come down. Expensive as it's right on the road edge with power lines running near, 2 other ancient pines shoulder to shoulder, and of course our house would be in the way if it fell badly. The poor thing is dying and has some kind of rot about 15' up the trunk. It's not only the cost of taking it down (something Mike would do were the placement not so problematic), but that tree is at least 60 years old and cutting it down is awful. I start to think on all that's happened during that tree's long life and cry. It's good that you've found a comforting philosophy about your land and its trees. I wish I could. ~LA

Posted by: LA at November 25, 2004 04:35 AM

I like it when you post one of your poems :)

We have some beautiful old trees in the gardens behind our little house. I love the sound of the wind through their leaves, it reminds me of being by the sea.

Posted by: ruthie at November 25, 2004 05:31 AM
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