“CACTUS ED” ABBEY ON MY MIND

“The earth is not a mechanism, but an organism.”                   Ed Abbey, The Journey Home

[Being in the Southwest] “is a treasure best enjoyed through the body and the spirit…, not through commercial plunder.”                                                       Ed Abbey, The Journey Home

“Are we going to ration the wilderness experience?”                 Ed Abbey, The Journey Home                              delicate-arch-arches-national-park-utah

Delicate Arch, Canyonlands, from Internet

The more I experience of man’s inhumanity to the Planet, –especially in overpopulated, pipe-line-threatened New Jersey–, the more I need Ed Abbey at my side. 

Right now, horrified at the success of the multi-billion-dollar-funded Climate Change Deniers (see This Changes Everything – Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein), I’m reading Adventures with Ed by Jack Loeffler.  The  author hiked and ate and drank and discussed and even fought with Ed during his lifetime. 

The two made a solemn pact that neither would let the other die in a hospital.  A pledge Loeffler was barely able to keep, but did.  The secret burial site required by Ed was facilitated, honored and often visited by Loeffler.  He would bring beer, –one poured for Ed; one drunk by himself, whenever he made that pilgrimage.

Everything about which we have been warned by Naomi Klein and 350.org and James Hansen and and Elizabeth Kolbert and Bill McKibben and probably even Rachel Carson and even the Nobel Prize Committee and Al Gore, is described in chapter and verse of anything by and about Abbey. 

A professed non-naturalist and determined “desert rat”, — who claimed to want to turn into a vulture upon dying–, Ed showed us the Southwest as the Poster Child for military/industrial/Big Coal/Big Gas/Big Copper ruinations.

McKibben issued his clarion call when The End of Nature was published in 1989.  He is still calling.  Abbey’s pivotal Desert Solitaire brought us to attention to commercial despoilations of our planet, especially in the Southwest, in 1968   Is anybody listening?

My first attention to the plight of our pPlanet came through Ed’s articles, as  well as through his seminal non-fiction work, Desert Solitaire. 

My first protests began and accelerated with the proposal to dam the Grand Canyon (!yes!) and another to build an enormous coal-fired generating station on the Kaiparowits Plateau, fouling the Four Corners region sacred to countless Indian tribes.

In those enlightened days, popular magazines published words and memorable images of the beauties we seemed fated to lose, as we now stand to lose New Jersey’s last green spaces to Pipelines conspiracies.  That’s when I joined the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, and ‘adopted whales’ through a Provincetown non-profit, as my daughters’ main Christmas presents.

Ed, whom I did not yet ‘know’ from that one volume (still most successfully in print) said it first.  Working as I do for D&R Greenway Land Trust, though I am speaking here as my very private, very opinionated self, I see perils to nature at every turn.  Some of which incursions we can prevent, and in some cases turn around.  Every year of the benighted 21st Century, it becomes more and more clear to me that Ed was a remarkable prophet, as well as a stirring author.  (Read his novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, if you don’t believe me.)

Ed is carefully quoted by Jack Loeffler, –from a speech Abbey was asked to give to St. John’s College in Santa Fe, in his beloved New Mexico:  “WILDERNESS IS WORTH SAVING FOR ITS OWN SAKE.”  This was 1975.  “Not for human benefit or pleasure.  Wild things and wild places have a right to exist and to continue existing…  Bees. birds, animals, snakes, buzzards, bugs, whatever, have a legal and moral right to continue. Even rocks have the moral right to continue being rocks.”

Those of you who read my US 1 (Business) Newspaper Cover Story on Four Shady Walks this week [princetoninfo.com], have absorbed my passion for the towering boulders of the Sourlands trail off Hopewell’s Greenwood Avenue.  This haven taught me that not only trees and flowers, animals and insects,  –but the very rocks themselves–, exude spirit.  One is changed, –of course for the better–, in their midst.  One is stilled, inspired and strengthened merely walking among them.  Even more-so, sitting upon the most majestic rocks at the end of the blue trail, their ancient reality, their connection to creation, seeps  into and surrounds one.

You who read this blog, who did read NJ WILD all those years with the Packet, have seen images of those rocks.  They impact me like Chartres and Mt. St. Michel.  But you must go there in timelessness.  You must allow them to realize that you are open to their beings, and sometimes, even their messages.  You might apologize aloud for humans who ferried them away and pulverized their eminences into gravel and Belgian blocks.  To say nothing of the angry and misguided who defaced them with (now effaced, but never forgotten) wild graffiti last fall.  You might also make amends to noble beech trees along the trail, scarred by (to me, inexplicable) human need to carve their initials upon their sacred skin.

Ed insists, and I have always agreed, the Bible has it wrong.  “Man was NOT put here to have dominion over all things…  The earth was here first, and all these living things before us.”  Ed, also, –whose great joy was scrambling over rocks and boulders, mountains and peaks, preferably in sere desert landscapes–, goes on to tell the St. John’s students:  “Is it not possible that rocks, hills, and mountains, may enjoy a sentience, a form of consciousness, which we humans cannot perceive, because of vastly different time scales?”  His most outrageous proposition, which I find irresistible, is “…consider that we are thoughts in the minds of mountains, or that all humanity is a long, long thought.”

His (temporary, for Ed never gave UP on these themes) conclusion is, “As mind is to body, so is humanity to earth.  We cannot dishonor one without dishonoring and destroying ourselves.”

The Intrepids and I turn together to Eleanor Roosevelt and Georgia O’Keeffe, to stiffen our spines for the battles demanded in the 21st Century, to carry on to victories small and large upon which the Planet’s very survival depends.  Privately, every single year, I turn to Ed.

Ed ruminates on reverberations of research: “Science leads to technology…, and industry.  It’s what [science] can lead to that could be bad… Things go wrong, and scientists (and the Army Corps of Engineers, adds Carolyn-of-New-Jersey) are called in to think up remedies.  More and more, the system comes to rely upon remedial tinkering.  It becomes ever more centralized until utter collapse is inevitable.”  Outrageous Ed dares to say “the sooner, the better”, which quip I do not applaud.  But his conclusion is essential, “Then, maybe, we can stamp out this blight, this cancer of industrialization.”

When our beautiful –state, with its marvelous green preserves of forest and farmland–, is reduced to a “What Exit?” joke…  When everyone’s view of this entity formerly known as The Garden is a plethora of tanks and chimneys and wires and overpasses.  When our sacred Shore is eyed by Big Power as one long limitless oilfield — it’s time to pay attention to Ed.  Read him.  Write letters to editors.  Protest every pipeline suggestion/appropriation.  Support your local land trusts, who are trying to turn the tide of ruination decried by Ed Abbey, the Hemingway of preservation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Sarah Palin Says It’s All My Fault” and Other Political Poems

American Flag at Stern of the Twilight Steamboat on the Mississippi

American Flag at Stern of the Twilight Steamboat on the Mississippi

When friends and I were furiously fighting with Princeton University to preserve the hallowed Princeton Nursery Lands in Kingston, I lamented to one of them that night, “But I’m a poet!  What am I doing at the barricades?”

The friend brilliantly retorted, “But Carolyn, poets BELONG at the barricades.”

I returned, chastened, to the battle.  Ultimately, we saved a handful of acres, and the Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands was formed and thrives, leading informative trail walks, planting Flemer Nursery trees, sponsoring annual clean-ups, such as the very successful recent one on Martin Luther King Day.  FPNL aims to restore the classic nursery buildings, stalled now by insufficient fundings.  NJWILBEAUTY readers can assist by going onto the FPNL website and donating, and coming to their enriching events.

In the intervening years, in amongst nature poems, which I share with NJWILDBEAUTY readers, I have increasingly written political poems.

My fury over the indifference of politicians to the plight of the planet, results in my deciding to share some of the more radical political poems of recent years with my readers.

“Sarah Palin Says It’s All My Fault” won on-line publication at the time of the Gulf Oil Spill.  Now politicians, including the the President we thought knew better and would prevent profanation of the planet, want to drill for oil off-shore, in already imperiled New Jersey, and also puncture her north, south, east, west and especially the Pine Barrens for the spoils of Fracking!

Do what you can, readers, with your legislators, wherever you live, to arrest despoilation of the Planet.  

Pipeline! Along D&R Canal south of Princeton, Our Historic Bucolic Waterway, Our Water SUPPLY!

Pipeline! Along D&R Canal south of Princeton, Our Historic Bucolic Waterway, Our Water SUPPLY!

Here’s my Sarah Poem.

POETS FOR LIVING WATERS

Creating venues for poetry in support of healthy ocean communities

DEAR SARAH PALIN, by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Posted on June 21, 2010 by Heidi Lynn Staples

DEAR SARAH PALIN,

I understand it’s all my fault
–this Gulf oil disaster, I mean–
not only all that fire
bodies catapulted into air
then drowned
soon likely shark bait
but also this volcano of oil
spewing interminably
into our blue mantle

Sarah, you say
I did this
all of this and more
now some six weeks ago
with no end in sight
and no businessman
politician not even a general
let alone you, Sarah Palin,
knows how to stop
this tornado of oil

it’s also my fault, the oiled birds
Northern gannets
–pristine as Josephine
in her Empire gown
frail white silk
adorned with gold
though not quite bees
dark eyes snapping
as she becomes increasingly encased
in ‘my’ oil
more abruptly than all those mastodons
in La Brea’s tar pits

now slender cormorants
who, everyone is sure, are drowning
as they swim along
neck barely afloat
no one realizing
the genius of cormorants
who can fly/swim 30 miles an hour
underwater
when they are not oiled

about the mpg of my car
my old car
for the ownership of which
I am quite guilty
for the replacement of which
I have no means

cormorants
must wave both wings
after every dive
to dry them
so that they may
dive and dive again
–no wave strong enough
to shake off ceaseless poison weight
of oil

it’s my fault, the reddish egrets
you know his own epitaph
written by photographer Ted Cross
for his own recent death
describing his multi-faceted self
on the Other Side
“still searching for the perfect photograph
of the reddish egret”

Ted did not have in mind
this soiled oiled specimen
trying, unsuccessfully
to lift newly leaden
legs wings and feet
out of Gulf mud muck and oil

it’s all my fault
and not because I use the wrong lightbulbs
in a couple of fixtures
nor because I do turn on the heat.
inside, in winter, sometimes
although I’ve been doing without air
conditioning so far this troubled year

it’s my fault
because I am an “extreme environmentalist”
because I think there should never be any more
drilling for oil in our country
because I deplore petrotyrrany
the privatization of profits
socialization of poverty
because I think we should start with the auto companies

well, what do you expect, Sarah?
I grew up in Detroit

I’ve never seen a wolf in the wild
as you do and deplore
–these beings you condemn to bloody deaths
I would embrace

nor have I encountered
a single polar bear
let alone a starving female trying to find food
for her new brood
attempting to swim with them
toward vanishing ice floes

but that’s o.k. with you
Sarah
it makes the hunting
easier

it’s my fault, Sarah
for I am quite literally
a tree hugger

I believe that greed should end
America return to her original nobility
where people pledged lives
fortunes
sacred honor
remember sacred honor?
— ah, well, probably not, Sarah

I believe we are our Planet’s
Keepers

Sarah – who are you?

~~~~~~~~~~

STATEMENT
what everyone must remember, wherever anyone lives (not only those of us in New Jersey’s key migratory corridor, the only state with three coastlines) is that these are our birds, our waters.  Because of the Gulf Stream, this catastrophe is global.  We may have passed the tipping point.  We are all the oiled pelican.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

OK, that’s not the only political poem these days:

 

SHIP OF STATE

 

Roosevelt died again

— I can’t help it!

I keep reading histories/

biographies of WWII

 

and he’s there

at the helm

jaunty, sure

eyes all asparkle

despite Depression

war-on-two fronts

cigarette slanted

in that elegant holder

easy at the wheel

 

no circling shadows yet

dim those piercing eyes – nothing

forces the wide and reassuring grin

from that dashing face

— emblem of my childhood

 

he can sail forever

circumnavigate

this imperiled globe

that was so much less imperiled

in his hands

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

January 2015

 

Here may be my most radical ever.  I see Edward Snowden right up there with our Founding Fathers and Thomas Paine, yes, at the barricades, willing to give lives, fortunes and sacred honor so that our noble country can live, thrive, and persist.

 

Pole Farm, Lawrenceville NJ, America The Beautiful

Pole Farm, Lawrenceville NJ, America The Beautiful

 

REVOLUTIONARY HEROISM, 21ST CENTURY

 

I understand you, Edward Snowden

you find a country

notorious for terrorism

safer

than your own

 

you love your own

enough

to fight for its return

to sacred honor

blood-won rights

–privacy above all

 

you love your own

enough to give her up

hoping

that your sacrifice

will turn around

our country’s

despoilation / ruination

 

I understand you

praise your courage

 

wonder what it is that I can do

to turn the tide

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

January 2015

 

Preserved Farm, Essential America, Salem County NJ

Preserved Farm, Essential America, Salem County NJ