Bird Droppings December 31, 2014
Mountains offer a more clear view
“I have a pretty fair education, but I would hate to be turned loose in these mountains right now and be told to put food in my belly, clothing on my body, shelter over my head, and provide protection from my enemies, both two footed and four footed ad all that without having a beast of burden or the wheel and axle. And yet they did it for thousands of years. So I think they were pretty smart.” Dr. Tom Lumsden, M.D., Resident of the Nacoochee valley and author of Nacoochee Valley, It’s Times and Its Places
I was in Demorest Georgia about three years ago and up to Cleveland Georgia the following day at the foot of Mount Yonah. Demorest was a trip to get my youngest son enrolled in the Piedmont College Nursing program which went along great with a snafu here and there on getting classes at differing times. The Cleveland trip was to pick up food for the critters, frozen and live mice and rats at the largest mouse breeder in the US. It is always a fun trip and great scenery. While at Piedmont College I went to the book store and found a book, Distant Voices by Emory M. Jones, it is a history and collection of stories about the Nacoochee Indian Mounds located in the Nacoochee Valley of Georgia just a few miles from where I was yesterday. Dr. Tom Lumsden is a local physician and a historian by hobby of the Nacoochee Valley and is recognized by the author for his work in this regard.
But close home, we come under the influence
Of the Great Bear, Yonah Mountain,
Circumference as where creeks,
Branches, ground waters from their
Deep springs tumble to join.
So we were given two related manifestations.
One man-built artifact,
The other the longing nature of man.
A few lines from the poem, Confluences, by Mildred Greear, a renowned local poet and wife of Professor Emeritus at Shorter College Dr. Phillip F. C. Greear.
I always take pictures where ever I am be it at home of my granddaughter and family, my herb garden and sunrises and sunsets from my porch or back yard. I will drive around and find a stump from a clearing of power lines of an old cedar tree and then proceed to watch a male cardinal sit there waiting for me to take a photo of his brilliant red feathers and the deep red heart of the cedar tree. As I walked about the farm where we went to get mice yesterday and around Piedmont College on Wednesday I found images that were significant to me and who knows might impress someone down the line. Standing at the base of Yonah Mountain looking out over the Nacoochee Valley with great patches of clouds interspersed in the mountains surrounding the valley I was in awe of the beauty and took literally dozens of shots. I find it so hard to sympathize with people who simply want to tear down wilderness for profit. Once it is gone it can not be the way it was. My own philosophical meanderings to an Indian understanding of the world about us perhaps is leading me to this.
“A wakan (holy) man is one who is wise…. He can talk with animals and with trees and with stones. He can talk with everything on earth.” Little Wound, Oglala Sioux
I by no means claim the title of wakan but I have been known to talk while sitting meditating to the trees and animals that show up around me. Many the day, I will sit watching a sunrise whispering to the wind or breeze lifting a bit of smoke from some white sage or sweet grass through the pine needles.
“As a Nez Perce man passed through the forest the moving trees whispered to him and his heart swelled with the song of the swaying pine. He looked through the green branches and saw white clouds drifting across the blue dome, and felt the songs of the clouds. Each bird twittering in the branches, each water fowl among the reeds or on the surface of the lake, spoke his intelligible message to his heart; as he looked into the sky and saw the high flying birds of passage, he knew their flight was made strong by the uplifted voices of ten thousand birds of meadow, forest and lake, and his heart fairly in tune with all of this vibrated with the songs of its fullness.” Chief Joseph, Rolling Thunder, Nez Perce, from Indian Spirit edited by Michael and Judith Fitzgerald
In a recent article in the current National Geographic arguments for the pros and cons of mining gold in Alaska wilderness water shed and head waters for some major salmon spawning streams are made. Conservationists and indigenous peoples want to leave well enough alone. A consortium of mines wants to open pit mine an area and use impoundment ponds to contain water tainted by gold and copper mining processes. Both sides present numbers of people employed and income. The gold mine would add nearly two thousand jobs to the area which does need jobs. The gold mine would generate upwards of five hundred billion dollars over twenty five years. The salmon fishery supports eleven thousand jobs and over one hundred and fifty million dollars a year in income as well as subsistent fishing providing food for many tribes in the area.
There are what ifs in terms of gold mining. What happens if any of to the tainted water spills into or leaches into the spawning waters would it destroy the salmon fishery. The main area of mining would take place in the headwaters of many of the streams in this watershed which would potentially impact the entire area. Two thousand jobs would be created and some of that five hundred billion would stay locally how much since neither of mining companies involved is based in Canada is uncertain. However if the mine does go through and does destroy the fishing eleven thousand jobs are gone as well as a traditional way of life and food source for many more thousands. So do we go for profit or for listening to the trees and wildlife?
“The Lakota loved the earth and with all things of the earth, the attachment growing with age. The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.” Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux
It has been some time since gold mining was a mainstay in north Georgia. Now it is primarily a tourist attraction. I have seen pictures of the mining process back in the day. Huge water cannons would blast the dirt away from the sides of mountains causing severe erosion and pollution of streams and creeks. It was all for a profit. We do live in a time where it is hard to be self-sufficient and we do need to purchase food and services. Perhaps my concern is that point where we humans tend to get greedy and go beyond what we need and hoard and accumulate so we can have more than anyone else. I am bad in terms of books as I sit here looking at my nearly surrounding shelves of texts, articles, books, and magazines.
But I wonder if we could break away from that human desire to be more than and perhaps slow the process down if only for a while to be able to hear the trees again and listen to the streams and birds. It has been nearly twenty years since I first went to the grave of Geronimo located in Lawton Oklahoma on the Fort Sill Army Base. I was standing looking at Geronimo’s grave a pyramid of river rocks topped by a now cement eagle. The original eagle was gold covered and was stolen. Almost out of nowhere a breeze picked up and along the river a faint whisper of by gone days as I gazed across the prairie facing beyond Geronimo’s grave. I was mesmerized as I listened to the rustling of the cotton wood trees and rolling of the creek. I seemed to stand transfixed for hours till a car load of boy scouts jumped out hollering and running about and broke my silence. So I finish up my droppings and continue to ask to please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)