‘What I Want for This Land’

5 Jul

The following was written by a member of Deep Green Resistance Colorado.

I love this land. I love the plains and the hills and the forests and the mountains and the rivers, and everyone who calls those places home. I’ve lived here my entire life, and while I don’t know this land nearly as well as I should, it is my home. But this place is being killed, slowly destroyed, and I don’t want to see that.

I want to see healthy forests. I want to see firs, spruces, pines, and aspens thick in the mountains. I want to see an end to thinning and logging in these hills. I want to walk through strands of Ponderosas, the air thick with the smell of vanilla and butterscotch. I want to wander through Douglas Fir at night and see them dancing in the wind. I want to look up and see the stars through their happy, wise boughs. I want to walk through Aspen groves hundreds of years old, the thick trunks of the oldest clones rough and black to the touch, and their golden leaves chattering softly in the slightest breeze.  I want fires to burn every year like they should, slowly regenerating the forest and opening up space for new life. I want to feel the ground soft, covered in decades of accumulated needles. I want to see the forest dark and thick in the light of the summer, with deadwood and decomposing grandmother and –father trees giving their bodies to birds and squirrels and unknown insects, before slowly disintegrating into the soil.

I want to see the plains alive again. I want them to stretch out beyond the horizon, free of cornfields and cattle, free of fracking chemicals and pipelines, free of pavement. I want to see buffalo on the plains, their herds growing bigger every year, darkening the rolling hills for miles. I want to see generation after generation born as pure-blooded bison. I want them to return to their old homes.  I want to hear their calls in the fall when the cold first comes. I want to hear the chirp and chatter of prairie dogs. I want to see them ducking in and out of their burrows, sounding alarms whenever strangers approach.  I want to sit in the shade of cottonwoods, and walk their meandering trails along rivers and streams.

I want to see our rivers freed, running their own paths and singing their own songs. I want to see them swell in the spring, without worry of parasitic diversions and appropriations. I want their waters to flow beyond these lands without being taken for irrigation or city medians. I want to feel their icy-cold in my bones. I want them to carve out valleys and meadows and mountains; the places they’ve known for millennia and belong to. I want them full. I want to see them flowing clean of lead and mercury and tailings remains. I want them to be home again for beavers and trout. I want to hear them laughing as they wind their way from their origins out to wherever they may go, to meet and greet people and lands I’ll never know.

I want to hear wolves in the mountains. I want to hear elk bellowing in the rut. I want to hear coyotes singing at night. I want to hear wild turkeys, and stumble across their feathers when I walk through the woods.

I want to see the pine beetles stop their yearly climbs up through the mountains. I want them to stay where they belong.

I want to see the mountains rising up from the plains. I want to see them old and listen to the wisdom in their bones. I want their bones to be left alone. I want them to be left alone, no longer blown apart or ripped open.

I want to see black bears gorging themselves on raspberries and blueberries and thimbleberries and chokecherries and strawberries.

I want to feel the wind playing with my hair without the smell of smog or industry. I want to suck in mountain air and feel woozy from the sweetness of meadow flowers in summer.

I want to feel the rain kiss my face without the burn of chlorine or lead or mercury or zinc or benzene.

I want to be buried in the snow in spring, heavy and wet. I want the snow to soak the ground, replenishing what was lost in the heat of the summer.

This place is beautiful; beautiful and alive. I want to listen to its stories and learn its lessons. I want to know it and love it and be loved by it. I want to see it healed. I want to see it for what it is, and for what it once was. I want it to be what it once was. I want it to be what it still truly is, if only we would see it and hear it and let it be free. I want it to stop being killed.

The dominant culture of industrial civilization is killing it, poisoning and draining its waters, clearing its forests, and extirpating its inhabitants—the many members of this living community. It has already decimated the plains, slaughtering the bison and prairie dogs, plowing up and paving over the soil. For nearly two centuries, the dominant culture has been tearing apart the flesh of the mountains. It has been filling the air with smoke and smog and dust and poison.

I want this land, and all of its inhabitants and participants, to be free, to be alive, to be left alone, to be loved.

But this culture, this society of rape and ravage, of death and domination, of utility and uncaring, unfeeling, won’t let it be. It is incapable of leaving the coal in the mountains, the water in the rivers, the trees in the forest. Which is why this culture must be stopped, by any means necessary.

It must be dismantled, and its infrastructure crippled beyond repair. The logging infrastructure must go or be disabled. The mining infrastructure must go or be disabled. The water and irrigation infrastructure must go or be disabled. The agricultural infrastructure must go or be disabled. The social, economic, and political infrastructure of this culture—which drives and enables the destruction of this land—must go or be disabled.

And we all know that this culture won’t go willingly, that it won’t—can’t—take ‘no’ for an answer.

So it must be disabled & dismantled.

Bring it down. For the forests. For the mountains. For the rivers. For the bison and coyotes and sagebrush and prairie dogs and grosbeaks and beaver and elk and bears. For the trout and aspen and columbines and sunflowers and gamble oak.

Either this culture will be dismantled and destroyed, or this land will be. If you love this land, its beauty, its secrets, its wisdoms, its life, then it’s time to fight back for all you’re worth.

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