In the physical world, many of us look to nature for peace. Ocean waves’ predictable ebb and flow, eagle cries calling us to look up, deer prints in the mud. For me, even hearing the black bears’ ponderous shuffling through the brush helps me know that all is right in my corner of the world. Better there than on my porch.
We are fortunate to live on acreage that backs up to forest land. Trees surround me, as they have most of my life. I feel safe in them, and in awe. They inspire stories and possibilities. From my kitchen window, a glance up at the woods instantly summons bits of stories: Native American spirits, distressed damsels in filmy white, Sasquatch, a Nancy Drew mystery. I move from scrubbing dirty pots to story weaving seamlessly, as if lifting my eyes slips me into an alternate reality. Slosh, blink, bask in the story. That’s what trees do for me.
The way our land is situated, our back property line lies only a hundred and fifty feet past my windows. That may seem like a lot, and I always thought it was. But here’s the thing: that forest land behind us is owned by someone else. While some of the trees that inspire me daily are mine, the dense forest of hemlock, maple, and cedar that lie beyond belong to someone else. And right this moment as I type, that someone else is legally and rightfully logging off every tree on his property. One hundred and fifteen acres, harvested.
Bad things happen in the world. Accidents, tragedies, natural disasters, and just plain meanness. Nothing about a property owner clearing his land for profit fits in the category of bad things. I know that. And still, this change is causing me such anxiety.
I wake up in the early morning hours hearing buzz saws and massive truck engines. Headlights shine in our bedroom windows from where vehicles could have never ventured before. More than one morning I’ve woken up thinking I’m in the Lord of the Rings movie where Saruman is having the orcs kill and burn the Ents (living tree folk), digging a massive pit in the ground where they somehow form an extra hateful new race of orcs. Just when I forget for a moment that the trucks are out there destroying my forest (not my forest), I hear the machinery again and adrenalin shoots through me. I remind myself that cutting trees on forestland is inevitable, and that people are happy to have the work these jobs provide.
While the noise frazzled my nerves yesterday morning, an idea hit me. Why should I be the only one feeling discombobulated? Without complaining, I wondered if there was a way to let these loggers know how I felt.
No, that’s not honest. What I really wondered was if there might be a legal, not-too-cruel way to get even with them. I know it’s not very nice, so please stop looking at me that way. You try living with this bone-crunching noise and destruction for weeks on end.
If you check the date of this post, you’ll see we’re on the homestretch for Halloween. That means costumes, candy, and decorations. Scarecrows top the list of my favorite fall decorations, and that gave me an idea. I moseyed on over to the Wal-Mart yesterday, and picked up a child-sized scarecrow for $6.88. While all the scarecrows smiled, I chose one with just dots for eyes. I didn’t want one with cheery, friendly eyes. No, that wouldn’t do. Just a blank-eyed look over a simple smile. Then, last night, after the loggers were finished for the day, I crept out through the woods. It took awhile, because while I whine about losing trees (that aren’t mine), we still have trees back there.
Anyway, I crept into the woods, just in case some of the workers remained on site. Then I posted my little scarecrow in the bushes a few feet back from our property line. It’s close enough, the workers should still see it. I hope it freaks them out.
Then, as they clear eastward along the rest of our property line, guess what? I’m going to move the scarecrow, so they see it again. And then, again. I’ll keep doing it, then on maybe the third or fourth move, I’ll prop up one of the straw arms so it looks like it’s pointing at them. That was my son’s idea, and I think it’s genius. I might even go get another scarecrow (heck, $6.88 is a steal considering the emotional release this is giving me) and put it where they’ll pass when they’re driving away with their loads of trees. Make them think there are more scarecrows, and yes, that the scarecrows are watching. Heeheehee.
When my sister reads this, she’ll grunt and say something about my passive aggressive tendencies. She’ll be right, but I don’t care. It’s not like I can chain myself to all the trees in the destruction zone.
Although I could chain scarecrows to some. That would be fun.