Wednesday, January 30, 2013


“To those who followed Columbus and Cortez, the New World truly seemed incredible because of the natural endowments. The land often announced itself with a heavy scent miles out into the ocean. Giovanni di Verazanno in 1524 smelled the cedars of the East Coast a hundred leagues out. The men of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon were temporarily disarmed by the fragrance of the Jersey Shore, whiles ships running further up the coast occasionally swam through large beds of floating flowers. Wherever they came inland they found a rich riot of color and sound, of game and luxuriant vegetation. Had they been other than they were they might have written a new mythology here. As it was, they took inventory.” Frederick Turner. Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness.

I’ve never been to sea, so I’m not sure what we can smell now when we’re a hundred miles or so off shore. Diesel fumes. Gas fumes, hot asphalt, and industrial pollution? I’m betting the Jersey Shore has a much difference fragrance nearly five centuries after di Verazanno made his run up the coast. And the beds of floating flowers are a forgotten memory. Unless you want to count plastic bags, discarded bottles and cargo lost from containers as “flowers.” Well, there’s a riot of color and sound all right. We spend a great deal of time and energy trying to escape it. And, it looks like we finally did write that new mythology. Of the virtue and necessity of conquest and exploitation. Now, we find ourselves in a trap of our own making.

One industry develops low wattage LED’s and touts them a replacement for home light use while another industry finds a totally new use for light bulbs. Soon every corner bank and drugstore hosts a mini bill board advertising services. In firesale red. Electrical useage stays the same or goes up and visual pollution increases. Plant based bio fuels replace petroleum, at least in theory but it still takes more energy to produce the fuel than we’ll ever see in our fuel tanks.

Each appliance may take less energy but the number and SIZE of the appliances increases. Remember the TV’s with nineteen inch screens? Can you even get one of those these days? I may really like Tom Selleck, but I have no desire to count the number of hairs in his moustache.

And any suggestion that we might simplify our lives a little, just a little is met with that you’re a Marxist, Socialist, Fascist, nihilist trying to destroy the American nightmare. Whoops, pardon me, dream.

Which led me back to this little prayer in one of mom’s workbooks from her Methodist women’s group.

I am your mother: do not neglect me!
Children protect me-I need your trust;
my breath is your breath, my death is your death,
ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

I am your nurture; do not destroy me!
Love and enjoy me, savor my fruit;
my good is your good, my food is your food,
water and flower, branches and root.

I am your lodging: do not abuse me!
Tenderly use me, soothing my scars;
my health is your health, my wealth is your wealth,
shining with promise, set among stars.

The Creator is our maker, do not deny,
challenge, defy or, threaten this place;
life is to cherish, care, or we perish!
I am your mother, tears on my face.

Adapted from a prayer by Shirley Erena Murray 1996


Lisa :-] said...

Beautiful little prayer!

JACKIE said...

I wish I could draw worth a damn. I'd redo Michelangelo's Pieta (the one in Saint Peter's) with the earth as Mary and all the beautiful things we've wasted in her lap. Well, I can't DRAW it but I can SEE it.