...Over the years, I have watched eroded land become productive again by trees. First, there came the locusts and pines. Then after years of growth and foliage waste from those trees, the land became fertile enough to sustain hardwoods. Then, came the oaks and maples. The evolutionary process was repeated. Nature heals manmade sores.
We rode down New River to observe the new construction of the Parkway and the ancient engineering of the river. We saw a kingfisher and a huge bald eagles' nest on an island. He marveled at the "antiseptic green" of winter water crashing over Brooks and Sandstone Falls. Austere flatrock plant communities edged and enormous oaks overlooked the cascades.
I read once that lumbermen felled a white oak in Pickaway, Monroe County, which was six feet in diameter at the stump and from it came 3,000 board feet of lumber and seven cords of wood. I grieved a bit over this. The thought of such a tree being cut seemed a sin. And it seems to me a sin that, of the thousands of such trees once here, there is scarcely one that has escaped the ax and the saw. Will there come a time when a boy cannot find a spot in the woods that he knows in his genes is the place for him to plan and play?
To Perry Mann, the felling of that specimen is only symbolic of our near-universal short-sightedness:
The fierce urgency of now is to recognize that humanity is on the Titanic. The iceberg is the mindless procreation of more people, the prodigal use of the earth's resources, the creation and frenetic consumption of stuff, the maldistribution of wealth, the daily indignity of dumping tons of trash and the maintenance of an economic system of whose dogmas build a bigger iceberg day by day.
He survives to bear witness and sound alarm.
Chanlett, of Hinton, is a small farmer, landscaper and friend of occasional Sunday Gazette-Mail contributor Perry Mann.