Sunday, May 06, 2012

Talking to your picture


My neighbor is cutting trees: beech and birch and cedar, spruce and tamarack and ash. It's decimated back there. At first I believed in the sustainability of Maine's forestry initiatives, that the state didn't allow clear-cutting on the scale I've seen in Alabama. But as it wears on, day by day, the endless drone of the chainsaw, a crunch like bone as another tree collapses, the whine of the skitter sullying my Aroostook County quiet, I feel like I'm about to collapse, too.

I'm aware of my hypocrisy. I burn cedar all winter in the wood stove, for heat, and I feel especially hypocritical about it now when it's a bare forty degrees outside and there's a full moon—and still I burn the wood. I don't want to burn diesel in the furnace, I don't want to smell petroleum roasting in my house. I also don't want to start a big fire for little ole me.

But I'm cold. I'm still a hothouse flower, a cutting of jasmine from tropical shores. So I burn the wood that my neighbor next door cuts, if only in a figurative sense—I burn the cast-off wood from the lumber mill the next road over. I don't know where he's taking the trees he's cut that border my road, what he's doing with their carcasses, but there's a good chance I'll end up burning their cast-off ends, too.

I believe in well-managed forests, in biomass energy as one of the few solutions to the carbon crisis, but when it's happening right next to me, when the trees that are feet away from my walking path, are turning into nothing but barren, shuddering corpses... I find it difficult to stomach. Not to be melodramatic or anything. My desk is made from wood. My house, table, chairs. It's just the view of it up close that's so painful, that makes me want to swear off the stuff altogether.


Anonymous said...


i don't know if you got my other comment or not. bloggers' comment system is frustrating. maybe turn on name/url if you want to get more comments, though i understand if you don't:)

anyway, i relate so much to you. i'm an mk too, cannot sit still, love simplicity and risk, hampered by guilt, unable to find peace within myself, finding it hard to make myself write, even though it frees me.

i'm dying to talk more with you. i'm trying to figure out what to do next. i was thinking boat, but i'm really not all that great of a swimmer and have never sailed before. i've already gone the van-dwelling route and while i love it, the cost of fuel is too prohibitive. done the AT. right now i'm in a tiny high rise in chicago, reading all these blogs and getting frustrated.

anyway. write more! that's all i really have to say. and here is my blog, not because i'm trying to pimp it, could not care less about that, but because i'd really like to stay in touch.

Anonymous said...

oh! and have you heard of l'abri? francis schaeffer's brainchild? there is one in southborough, MA. amazing place to be if you are wanting inspiration ever, with its sunken garden and labyrinthian tunnels and clothes lines and tea time and a huge library heated by a wood burning stove.

Melissa said...

Thanks for the comment and the advice on commenting--it's been a long time since I've messed around with that feature. I'm so glad that you connected to some things I've written--some days I believe it's only MKs who can understand our peculiar blend of wanderlust, faith, dissatisfaction, anti-consumerism, and drive. It's not true, though. There are boat kids and immigrants and exiles. Did you do the AT last year? Have you done the PCT? I see bunches of PCT locales (and gorgeous photography) on your site.

A boat would be awesome. I miss my boat. But it's a difficult thing to do alone never having sailed before. You could find a spot as crew to practice, or pay money to be taught to singlehand (or just go hang out at a Chicago boatyard, which I find is generally the best methodology). Sailors generally want companions.

Or you can come to Maine and farm--I know many farms looking for hands, also... I may have a decade on you, but the best I can say is keep wandering, keep creating.

dandelionfleur said...

We're working to reduce our footprint, but I suppose I may be ignorant regarding our wood use. There's always stuff to learn.

Melissa said...

The problem is--I think wood use in Maine is probably one of the better, in terms of reducing footprint. It just still sucks to be next to trees being slaughtered. I do worry about that carbon not being put back into the ground if trees aren't replanted.