Nature Forced into Unnatural Acts.

Row of trees cut for powerlineIt’s such a common sight near power lines, but every time I see this, my heart aches for the beheaded tree.

It was growing there long before man ran his electricity in straight lines and chopped off anything that got in his way.

 

Driving across the Sacramento Valley to Woodland where my ancestors settled during  the Gold Rush, I took lots of photos.

Most were scenes of vibrant mustard flowers carpeting the ground of cloudy pink fruit orchards. But some Mustard in fruit orchardorchards were bereft of any ground vegetation.Furrowed field I thought the fields of dark earth all furrowed and ready for planting were stunning at first, until I noticed the absolute absence of weeds.        Hmmmm.

Man’s need supersedes that of  nature most times.  I’ve learned recently that oil companies are hovering like bees a bit south in the central valley in one of the richest deposits of oil in the United States called the Monterey Shale.  Get ready for the next Gold Rush made possible by hydraulic fracking.

Fracking creates fractures in rocks thousands of feet below the surface by injecting them with water laced with chemicals and sand, allowing oil or gas to flow out.  Fracking received a specific exception from the Clean Water Act in the 2005 Energy Bill, so oil companies don’t have to reveal what chemicals they use.

Again, with no regard to Mother Earth, some 30 chemicals including hydrochloric acid, are injected into her body to extract oil. Fracking and disposal of fracking waste has been linked to groundwater pollution, drinking water contamination and earthquakes.

How long until Earth fights back, like an abused woman who’s finally had enough?  In the meantime, as Dick always says, Go Gently.

Links to read more on the Monterey Shale:

http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/fracking-boom-looms-in-californias-monterey-shale/

http://www.newtimesslo.com/cover/6555/californias-silent-oil-rush/

Thanks Debra!

Even more stories . . .

 Used Books that Found Me

Used Books that Found Me

I love reading people’s stories of how used books magically found them.

Got one yourself?  Send it and I’ll add it to the collection!

First, one from Rochelle Bell.

“One of my favorite authors is Sylvia Boorstein, a Buddhist teacher and a faithful Jew. One day I decided to get the rest of the books she has written. I realized she was aging and probably would not be writing very much longer. I went to Amazon.com and began looking for her work. There were several, and I quickly hit the “buy” button and was done with it.

A few days later the books came and I realized I’d been too quick on the button. One of the books was written by another author and only the forward was written by Sylvia.

My partner, Rod grabbed that book titled “How to be Sick” – A Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers. Rod has been caring for his brother as of late, and he loves the book and the wisdom it imparts.

So, what seemed like a mistake for me turned into a gift for Rod.”

*   *  *

And now from her partner, Rod Bondurant.

An old National Geographic started it.

“I don’t recall the name….do you, Mabel?” Mabel shook her head and the Delhi librarian turned her steely gaze on me.  I just wanted a book, and I was being interrogated in the silent old library in upstate New York where old school New England culture was still present.

I really didn’t want to go into it all but I half-heartedly launched into the story of my parents living there, and now my reclusive brother living in their house.

No stranger was just going to walk in and get a book here.  I decided to get to the point.  “I’m looking for a copy of Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle.  Two pair of eyes were suddenly wide and fixed on me. Their thrill showed: This man wants a real book! He knows who Darwin is!  A flurry of eager activity located the book 200 miles away.  I had to explain more about how I didn’t expect to be around long enough to receive the copy.  I had returned to Delhi to help my brother deal with serious cancer and I was hoping to go home soon.

To salvage my library visit and honor the staff’s enthusiasm, I requested direction to the Travel section.  I took in the bleak half-filled shelf……A few old Fodor’s, a picture book or two, a few musty local history anthologies, and a shabby gray copy of The Peninsula by Louise Dickinson Rich.  A vaguely familiar name.

She was one of my mother’s favorite authors.  Mother always had dreams of “going back to the land”.  She would have been a good hippie.  We actually did vagabond around in a converted VW bus during my high school summers.

Louise Rich had chronicled her own depression-era adventure in the Maine woods where she and her husband operated a fishing lodge.  The difficulties and making do involved in eking out an existence in the 1930’s was well described in We Took To The Woods.  Louise was also something of a cultural anthropologist and studied and delightfully recorded the values and workings of small town life.  The memory of that book reminded me that my previous interrogation was a precious remnant of the peculiar intimacy of small towns.

I grabbed The Peninsula.  It had slumbered on the shelf. The old fashioned card with checkout dates showed it had been checked out only about once a year since 1963. I suspect one of the entries was my mother’s.  The Peninsula kept me spellbound.  Louise was now leading a different and solitary life in the early ‘50’s on the Maine coast.  She saw that “progress” was coming; the world she was surrounded with was going to disappear and she wanted to chronicle it.  She also shared her personal opening to the special natural beauty and heartwarming culture she found.

I haven’t yet read Darwin’s account about a now lost South American tribe, but the search had brought me the gift of another story closer to home.”

Seismic Shift in Access to Information

p_g10afjmr5gq0462_bThere’s been a seismic shift in access to information since I first did serious research on my Great Grandmother, Emily Hoppin, almost 25 years ago.  Back then (before Internet, mind you) I had to travel to Woodland to do on-site research in the Yolo County Archives – a small building in an industrial section of town.  When I found a newspaper article I wanted to copy of my gold-rush era ancestor, the kindly woman held a column-wide copier over the paper, and reproduced the article in that filmy fax-type paper (print is faded and useless today)

I’ve also relied on my Great-Grandmother’s scrapbook (patented in 1873 by Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain) that contains her pasted newspaper clippings of family deaths, her speeches, and the hot political contest for President of Federation of Women’s Clubs of California (which she won -1915).  Someday, I’ll make it part of Woodland’s historical archives.

I’ve found Ancestry.com helpful for locating records of births, deaths and census reports.  Interesting to see who else was living on the farm.

But recently Stephanie Korney, a friend and a founder of the Camptonville Historical Society, emailed me an article about my Great Grandmother from the 1915 Overland Journal. (Stephanie said after seeing my blog, she just couldn’t help digging around herself!)  I thought I’d seen most things printed on my ancestors, but here was an article filled with delicious details about this woman.  Wow!  Made Facebook look pale!

In the last 25 years, the Internet has  democratized access to information.  Google Books, a service from Google Inc. scans the full text of books and old magazines, converts text using optical character recognition, and stores it in its digital database. There’s been a lot of controversy over copyright issues and fair use.  That aside, I’m delighted to be able to search for Emily Hoppin, Yolo, California and find 30 sources of information on her.  I’ll put some on my website, and some of it will be incorporated into The Desk as a backdrop for Eliza, the fictionalized woman inspired by my Great-Grandmother’s life work for California, Women’s Suffrage, Temperance, Water, Farming and hopes for Universal Peace.