Saturday, July 1, 2017

Land of the "free"

Welcome to July. This is a long holiday weekend for many of us. I hope you enjoy all of it, whether it's your "free" time or not, may you soar like an eagle. By the way, do you think we would have any of our national symbols soaring if we hadn't had the Endangered Species Act?

Bald eagles soaring in Minnesota
Bald eagles soaring in Minnesota
Photo by J. Harrington

This morning, we successfully started pulling buckthorn, and something else with thorns on it, from the small grove immediately behind the garage and kitty-corner from the rear deck. Fortunately, the equipment, a subcompact tractor, and its operator sustained no serious injuries, only normal wear and tear. I'm please to say that several buckthorn plants suffered terminal injuries. Starting a "freedom from local buckthorn" initiative seemed appropriate this Independence Day weekend. We want to grow things in place of buckthorn that the buckthorn would only shade out. Nature, supposedly, abhors a vacuum, but it also abhors the alternative of overcrowding.

Overcrowding brings us to something I've noticed during the past week, hummingbirds at both the front and the back feeders. I was never sure if that meant there's more than one pair nesting nearby or not. This morning I watched several hummingbird equivalents of fighter plane "dog fights" around the back feeder. I'm presuming that means it wasn't just a disagreement between a formerly happy couple and that there actually are two or more pairs of hummingbirds. That may make me happier than it does the hummers.

do hummingbirds share well?
do hummingbirds share well?
Photo by J. Harrington

Since we are celebrating the United States Declaration of Independence this week, I'm going to suggest we also consider that, if each of the thirteen original colonies (Minnesota wasn't one) had tried to go it alone, the outcome would quite likely have been failure to secure independence from England. (Where would that have left the Minnesota to be?) To me, that suggests that a declaration of independence is always also a declaration of interdependence. We seem to still be in the process of learning how to forge a multitude of interests into one country, more a mosaic than a melting pot. I suspect it is an experiment that will never end, as long as each of us is at least slightly different, no matter how much we share in common. England lost thirteen colonies because it believed free men should be subservient to an authoritative ruler. Some lessons need to be repeated for the Hitlers, Stalins, Mussolinis, and those who would govern like them, to be reminded that many are willing to pay any price for freedom. This seems as true today as it did hundres or more years ago.

I suspect there is no one answer to the many issues that vex us these days, although I do firmly believe we have lost too much in the way of self-respect and respect for each other. We have come to give too much weight to material, economic and political values at the expense of moral considerations. It might seem realistic to think we actually can own, or at least control, the earth and perhaps someday, the rest of the universe. Then again, we might be fortunate enough to remember that We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. We can leave a scorched earth as a legacy, or it can be

The Gift Outright


By Robert Frost


The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.


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