I was sick of all the news saturated with senseless violence and political mayhem; I was feeling burned by the reality of drought and floods and frequently occurring “thousand year weather events” across the globe. I could not get used to the fact that the water levels of our regional trout streams had dropped precipitously while their temperatures rose to dangerous levels; I knew I had to get over it all, if only for a little while.
Our old kitchen was getting torn down and totally updated and renewed. Maybe I could take a hint and have my “soul kitchen” reinvented, so to speak, renewed with a visit to elsewhere. And where was that– Montana, Maine, or northern Michigan? Not yet. I headed for the evening woods in my front yard.
The forest climb and the meadow vistas were relaxing and serene. I could look into the forest gloom and see the brightness of a soul at peace with itself, at peace with the ringing carols of the hermit thrush; I could gaze across the hilltops and perceive the place where I languished when the blues afflicted the mind and heart. I could see that solitude can be a time when we are in the company of nature. I could put my place of life in perspective by absorbing the sunset and the quiet onset of the stars above; I could do these things but there was no escape.
What I had in mind for a series of evening walks was to do a natural inventory and to do it because the physical landscapes that surrounded me would soon be changing thanks to mankind and the need for increased energy consumption… The turbines were coming and would likely be installed within two years.
I’ve got nothing against wind power. We need to shift our use of dirty fossil fuels to cleaner, more sustainable energy alternatives. I’ve seen the giant turbines in numerous locations near and far and, frankly, prefer their use over coal extraction, hydro-electric and nuclear energy (25 years ago I fought tooth-and-nail against a federal and state proposal to dump nuclear waste here at the rivertops, but that’s another story). I like wind power and, for better or worse, I’ve been recognized as a wind generator myself, but that’s another story, as well.
I like it, but wind power has to be installed correctly and with all the best environmental studies incorporated. We need to use it in conjunction with an increased sense of social and global responsibility. I don’t want to see turbines set up on the bat fields or on the major migratory routes of songbirds and golden eagles; and I don’t want to see them from my back yard.
Okay, I’m a NIMBY. When it comes to the installment of 500-foot turbines, I say not-in-my-back-yard. And why not, you ask. A lot of people like them in the neighborhood. They look metallic, brilliant, futuristic. They make us look richer, more middle class, aspiring toward the upper crust of society. And they’re helping us save the Earth. Oh, really?
Unless we lessen our consumptive habits, our increasing use of… dare I say it… computers and electrical gadgetry and such, we’re only increasing our ability to consume more and more of what’s left to be consumed. So, the turbines are here. I won’t wax Quixotic and go tilting at those giant blades; there are easier ways to get scalped these days.
I’m a NIMBY on this issue because I moved here 35 years ago to get away from such industrial reminders. I moved here to find some rural peace, to be near trout streams and hermit thrushes, as far from the madding crowd and the “ignoble strife” as I could afford to be. And it’s been good so far. We dodged the spectacle of a nuclear waste dump in Allegany County; we dodged the bullet from hydro-fracking of Marcellus shale in New York State (though not, unfortunately, in Pennsylvania).
The turbines aren’t so bad, comparatively speaking. But they’ll change the land and skyscape that I’ve loved; they’ll always bring to mind the world of mass murder and political mayhem that’s around the bend. They’ll have yet another major impact on the hills and valleys (and no, this out-of-state industry won’t be putting many of our local guys to work).
I’m doing some inventory for the head and heart. My camera is ready, too. I’m enjoying the summer woods and meadows, seeing them in ways that give me peace. To paraphrase a biblical sentiment, I could say that here the grey coyote dwells with the spotted fawn; here the black bear of the body lies down with the singing thrush of the soul; the kitchen of the spirit is renewed, for now.