Sarah Bartz: Valuing the Intrinsic in an Instrumental Valued World

Sarah blog 2 photo B.jpgI sit on the shore of Lake Powell. My wristwatch reads 6:16 pm, the sun is creeping below the horizon, and the warmth of the day is still tickling my skin. I stare across the glassy blue water to the sandstone cliffs on the other side of the lake.

Below the peaceful surface lies a deep canyon, widely unknown to the many tourists that camp along the lake’s edge and speed across it in motor boats. But I, along with my groupmates, rest along its gritty, slickrock rim and imagine the vast canyon that once lay before us.

How deep did this submerged canyon once plummet? How much sediment now fills in the many cracks and alcoves the elements took such care and time creating?

Gentle ripples lapping at the water’s edge were once gentle gusts of wind. Fish swimming beneath the surface mimic birds soaring between canyon walls.

Gazing across the lake at a butte illuminated by the evening light, I wonder how it feels to spend your whole life dancing with the clouds, watching over the flora and fauna below, and suddenly being suffocated by the rising Colorado River, your oldest companion.

While the beauty of this refreshing water is undeniable, the underlying feeling of wrongness is unquestionable.

There was a time when the Colorado River flowed freely down the heart of Glen Canyon, whose wonders compare to that of the Grand Canyon. But that abruptly changed with the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. Completed in 1966, the dam drowned this relatively untouched wilderness with the powerful water of the Colorado River, transforming it into the Lake Powell of today. This traded the intrinsic values offered by Glen Canyon for the instrumental value offered by the Colorado River, utilized by the Glen Canyon Dam. This change appeals to some but is viewed as a tragedy in the eyes of many others.

A landscape, such as Glen Canyon, or a resource, such as the Colorado River, holds intrinsic value in the guidance it offers to humanity from its very existence and instrumental value in its measurable, useful benefits. In his essay In the Black Chamber, Paul Kingsnorth states that we need to believe and confidently state that “nature has some intrinsic, inherent value beyond the instrumental” to protect and leave it undefiled.

Instrumentally, the Colorado River, harnessed by the Glen Canyon Dam, now offers hydropower, flood control, tourism, recreation, and a large water reservoir in the water-scarce desert. But many would argue that the intrinsic benefits of Glen Canyon offered irreplaceable values and significance from its ancient indigenous history and glowing sandstone canyons, now altered forever.

I ponder this with the mind of a biophiliac, one who has a passion for loving, interacting, and protecting other forms of life and the natural world, ultimately supporting the lost intrinsic values found in Glen Canyon now lying deep beneath the rippling surface of Lake Powell. How do we stress the importance of intrinsic values while living in a world of biophobics, those with disregard and discomfort to the natural world, who are inclined to focus on quantifiable instrumental values?

The writings of Kathleen Dean Moore state that “there is worth in these products of time and rock and water far beyond their usefulness to human purposes.” Might there be a balance of intrinsic and instrumental values, biophilic and biophobic mindsets, that doesn’t compromise the future integrity of wonderous landscapes, and the ultimate connector of all living things, water?

I now sit and paddle down the Green River. Walls of varnish-painted sandstone stand proud on either side of me. Willow trees sway to the rhythm of the breeze on the banks. A Blue Heron, still as a statue, watches as I float by. The radiation of the sun from above and bubble of water below soothe my soul.

I cannot measure this moment or put a price on this place and the peace it brings.

I begin to understand the magnitude of loss felt by those who experienced a similar intrinsic value of floating down the Colorado River in Glen Canyon prior to its incarceration by the Glen Canyon Dam. Were the free-flowing Green River to suffer the same fate, the tragedy would be unfathomable and a special part of my heart would drown with it.

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Ryan Feidt: What I’ve learned from a Great Blue Heron

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As I awaken in the early morning, I look to the east; the sun just barely peaking over the horizon. The sky is lit with reds, pinks, oranges, and yellows. There is a sweet smell of coffee brewing in my stove. I look off into the distance and wonder about my day to come. What will I see as I canoe down the Green River? How many millions of years’ worth of rock layers will I travel through? What animals will I encounter? I ask these questions because I am practicing natural history. Thomas Fleischner, a professor at Prescott College, defines natural history as “a practice of intentional focused attentiveness and receptivity to the more-then-human world, guided by honesty and accuracy.”

“The fact that we have to make an intentional effort to practice natural history says a lot about the disconnect of our species” (WRFI instructor James Mauch, 2018). The average worker must make time to explore nature. But, do they make the time? Do you? Do you take the time to be observant enough to wonder about what is happening around you? If you don’t, you should; it’s worth every second you put into it. Sometimes you can discover something magical like I did.

A long day has passed as we paddle into camp. A brand-new camp, not only to us students, but to the instructors as well. Nobody has been at this camp in a very long time. This is evident because the footsteps in the sand are covered in rain drop impressions, it hasn’t rained in a month. There are two cottonwood trees just close enough together where I put up my hammock to sleep for the night. I take a seat and admire the evening light reflecting off the west-facing Navajo sandstone canyon wall. Never will a canyon wall look so beautiful as it does in the light of a setting sun. As I sit in my hammock drinking hot cocoa and finish my readings, the sun has fully set to reveal the blanket of stars shining in the dark sky. I gaze at the sky for a few minuets then snuggle into my sleeping bag and lay for the night. I have nothing but the sound of silence as I finally start to fall asleep. Then there is a noise. I am awoken with the sound of heavy wings flapping no more then perhaps a few feet away. I can tell this bird is large; is it going to land on me? It lets out a cry so loud and so edgy, that I can only think a pterodactyl is about to land on me. It’s time to investigate. I emerge from my slumber and look around. I don’t see anything. Another cry, this time louder and scarier. I look up and see the shadow of a Great Blue Heron. This is a bird I’m familiar with in the Midwest, but the desert? In a nest?

To think if I didn’t take the time to observe what was happening around me, I wouldn’t have known that Great Blue Herons lived in the desert. Herons are dependent of aquatic ecosystems, so I figured a desert, where there is limited water, wouldn’t house a bird like the Great Blue Heron. I now know that riparian areas, like the narrow strip along the Green River, are the exception. It is experiences like this that encourage me to practice natural history. Because the practice of natural history helps us connect with the environment around us, everyone should take the time to observe their surroundings. So, I encourage you to eat your lunch outside, go for a walk in the park, or just take a minute to stand outside your front door and use all your senses to cultivate your sense of wonder.

Keagan McCully: Reorientation

P1040260-X2A couple nights ago I awoke with a pounding in my head. My throat was uncomfortably dry, I was damp with sweat and my face felt like it was being pressed into the sand. I had somehow managed to position myself deep inside my sleeping bag, and I couldn’t see anything. I wanted to get out. I twisted myself around, extending my arms as I searched for the zipper that could set me free. My fingers grasped the warm metal. As I unzipped it, I felt the cool night air seeping into me. I pulled myself out, emerging from the capsule that entombed me. Gazing upward, I almost felt reborn. Thousands of stars were scattered in the sky above me. There was no moon, but I could still see the silhouettes of the canyon cliff faces that surrounded me. I could make out the croaks of woodhouse toads amongst the trickling of the nearby spring. I let out a long sigh. The wind seemed to agree with me.

Since entering Dark Canyon, I’ve been struggling to cope with my emotions. A certain part of me has been feeling apart from me. My mind isn’t fully present. Traversing through the winding slopes of the Woodenshoe Trail, I’m burdened with distracting thoughts which feel as though they are eating at me, taking away from my experience. They cause me to zone out in moments where I should be more attentive. Maybe it’s because I’m tired, potentially burning out, maybe I’m not getting enough time alone with myself. I feel disconnected. I long for moments where I can stand amongst the towering pines, breathing in the cleansing air, graceful and content in my own being and embracing what surrounds me. Is that too much to ask?

“What are you hoping to gain from this experience in the desert?” I am taken back to a conversation from several months ago with a friend of mine. “I don’t know,” I responded. In his eyes I saw the look of disappointment, causing me to add a little. “Hopefully I’ll strengthen my connection with the Earth.”

I chose to participate in WRFI because I longed for a stronger connection with the Earth. Knowing that it would be a profound experience, I walked into the wild with an open mind. Little did I know that I was also heading into the uncharted wilderness of my mind. Here there is no limit to where my thoughts can fester. With each step that I take down the trails of the canyon, my feet colliding with the dry earth, I step further into the reaches of my often chaotic mind. There are times where I just want to embrace what my sight brings me, study the sounds that make their way into my ears or let sensations permeate through my skin, but oftentimes my conscience has been louder that the landscape surrounding me. It yanks me from the slickrock beneath my feet and returns me home for split-seconds. There are people I want to see. Conversations that I’ve been yearning to have. Relationships I want to rekindle. Am I homesick? No, not necessarily… All I can do is exhale, attempt to release these thoughts from my mind, and return to where I am. Dave’s voice echoes through my mind. “Don’t leave the canyon before you leave the canyon.” I’m sorry, Dave. 

Despite my inner conflicts, there are moments when I am blessed with clarity, moments where peace upwells from deep within me and relaxes my mind. A few days ago, I stumbled into camp after a soul-testing 12-mile trek in search for water. Our camp was positioned in between towering sandstone cliffs which loomed above us like mountains. It was nearly evening; the sunlight had shifted to a golden hue and was desperately trying to work its way through the partly cloudy sky. I lay, exhausted beneath a towering ponderosa pine. My shoulders were aching, and my hips felt numb. I closed my eyes for a minute in attempt to let my mind become at ease.   

A soft breeze caused my eyelids to flutter. A solitary birdsong brought me back to reality. I let my eyes open, and almost immediately felt overcome by beauty. Above me, the ponderosa branches accepted the embrace of the wind. Their needles were shimmering, dancing in the evening glow. Behind them, the clouds had opened and brought forth an array of golden beams of sunlight, magnificent in their entirety, dancing in and out of the clouded darkness like ripples on water. For a moment, all in me was still. I felt held by the ground, and embraced by the wind, appreciated by the sun. I felt present, unoccupied by anything else, except the gifts that the Earth was allowing me to witness. 

There must be reason behind my mental wandering. Maybe I need to recognize it as a gift that the wilderness is providing to me. Where else can I witness the most stripped down, truest side of myself? Navigating through this unfamiliar landscape gives me the space and time in which I can navigate through my own head, meditating, contemplating, and even worrying. I can connect to myself and recognize my thoughts in a place where nothing is holding me back. The Earth can provide comfort which reminds me who I am and where I’ve come from. Surely this is the reorientation that I have been seeking.

Once again, I’m walking through an unfamiliar landscape. The path that I follow rises along a slope, winding through a grove of beautiful, young aspens. For a moment I stop, and listen to the whistling of the wind fluttering through the golden green, shimmering leaves. It’s truly magnificent to behold. Suddenly, a thought pops into my head. “I wish you could be here to see this.” I am swept back, paralyzed by this idea. A robin flies from behind me, landing on the trail several feet before my eyes. It looks at me, cocks its head, curious to see me. The bird returns to the sky. Smiling, I return to my thought, changing my outlook. “I can’t wait to tell you about this.” In this moment, I am here. Present in a place of such beauty and tranquility. The Earth has reoriented me, and given me the opportunity to listen to the songs that it sings. What a gift.  

 

Renne Baldwin: Everything We Do is for Rain

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Rain in the desert is magical. The sky turns dark and fog settles into the canyons. Moments after the first raindrop, the sagebrush alerts our noses to the water by releasing a pungent odor. The pitter-patter of rain hitting the soil creates little dimples that give way to rivulets and then streams. The cacti grow roots, as quickly as the lightning flashes across the sky, to absorb the precious resource, and mosses turn green, photosynthesizing once again. Several minutes later, the rocks are iridescent, and our boots are encased in colorful layers of mud.

But rain in the desert is rare. In the past five weeks, it has rained three times, and we’ve been told that snowpack is 65% lower than average in some areas. This already dry region is facing another year of the 20-and-counting-year drought. During our past two weeks on the Hopi and Navajo Nations, we have learned that the indigenous people who live in this area rely on water from rain, melting snow, and springs to support wild plants, provide drinking water, and provide moisture for their crops. The recurring statement from our hosts has been, “Everything we do is for rain.”

One morning in the Hopi Nation, we met a Hopi runner named Bucky. Sitting on his blanket-covered couch, we listened to Bucky recount his days as a young child, running age-old trails between his village, his family’s fields, and the shrines and springs in the area. This running held cultural significance; the paths the Hopi ran were seen by the Cloud People, and “when the Cloud People see you on the trails, they’ll bring rain.” When Bucky returned to the Hopi Nation after boarding school, he found many of the old paths gone or forgotten. The tradition of running for rain was being lost. Bucky began running the trails again and began an annual “Water is Life” ultra-marathon across the Hopi Nation. “It’s not a race. It’s about prayer” and keeping the Hopi tradition of running for water alive, explains Bucky. As Westerners, we may not see running as a religious activity, but for the Hopi, running brings rain, a necessity for life.

Later that afternoon, we drove west from the Hopi Nation to the Navajo Nation, where our hosts invited us to participate in the rituals associated with upkeeping their sweat lodge, which were also focused on rain. After cleaning the inside and building a platform at the entrance, we began to mix water and soil to replaster the exterior. As we finished the task, a small amount of mud remained in the wheelbarrow. Our host grasped a handful with his already-muddy hands and encouraged us to mold the mud into figurines while praying for rain. The frog I made sits atop a slab of slickrock near the sweat lodge, waiting for rain to fall on the valley below. It will remain as a call to water until it is washed back into the earth.

The final rain ritual for the sweat lodge involved covering the top with water. The ten of us held our water bottles and surround the earthen structure. We took a drink and sprayed the water from our mouths onto the newly finished sweat lodge. Then we emptied the remaining water in our bottles onto the structure and walked a full circle around it, again praying for rain. The labor we put into improving and maintaining the sweat lodge was more than labor; it was a call for rain.

From these two experiences, as well as other stories and experiences of singing, dancing, praying, and watching the skies while on the Hopi and Navajo Nations, I have come to appreciate the importance of rain for the indigenous people on the Colorado Plateau. The first times I saw it rain on this landscape, I found it beautiful, but inconvenient. I had to don my raingear and suffer heavy, muddy boots. But after seeing how rain is the livelihood of the people who live here, next time it rains in the desert, I’ll appreciate its value and beauty over the inconvenience. When it starts to sprinkle, I’ll raise my hands to the sky and sing and dance. I will draw in the clouds and ask the skies to continue to bring this landscape to life.

Madison Pettersen-Bradford: Paradox

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We all live in paradox. That’s what our instructor Joe said at the beginning of this section as we rode all together in the van to Escalante, Utah. That statement confused and saddened me. It left me wondering about why we live this way and how I might live like this in my life. So, as this section went on, the meaning and role of paradox in my life became more clear. Starting with our journey to Glen Canyon Dam and then to the Hopi Reservation, paradoxes were illuminated in our studies of these places. I explore this topic as a way to deal with that conflicting feeling in my gut, and discuss possible solutions based on some of the topics explored throughout this section.

In the dictionary, paradox is described as a person or thing displaying contradictory qualities.

Glen Canyon Dam was our first stop on our search for knowledge in our front country section. This dam is widely appreciated and respected for its clean energy production. During the production of hydropower there are no CO2 emissions. However, there is important information missing in this clean energy assumption. Building the dam was extremely energy intensive and has had unfortunate ecological effects. For example, it prevents species of fish which rely on migration upstream to spawn, and it changes the fundamental processes of the river, like flooding, which requires energy intensive management downstream. So, standing there looking at what I once would’ve viewed as a great structure, I felt that paradox feeling. Something that is supposed to be beneficial to the environment has many costs that may or may not be worth it.

Similar arguments could be made for other “clean” energy sources like uranium. Extraction and enrichment of uranium is damaging to ecological systems above the ground and is also very energy intensive. Additionally, the radioactive waste resulting from the production of electricity from uranium poses a risk for the health of humans and other species. It’s paradoxical that in our search for better resources we end up using a lot of energy. And despite the proven problems that arise from overconsumption, we continue our search for resources instead of reducing our consumption.

So much of our American culture is based on material wealth which we can only get by using resources. Barry Lopez hits the nail on the head when he says, “There is not the raw material in the woods, or beyond, to make all of us rich. And in striving for it, we will only make ourselves, all of us, poor,” (15). That’s a paradox in itself. In this search for wealth, we realize it’s not sustainable so we turn to “clean” resources. But this isn’t helping the problem, only postponing it.

The next part of our journey led us to the Hopi reservation where we studied the culture of the Hopi people. Dorothy Denet, our host, and Bucky Preston, another community member, gave us some insight on their way of life and thinking. They both emphasized the value of treating the land with respect and humanity as well as local community being vital in holding up their values. During these discussions I found myself with another one of those gut wrenching feelings that I couldn’t figure out what to do with. Isn’t it funny how I traveled so far away from my home to hear about the importance of community in holding up the environmental values I possess? In addition, all of this traveling I have done, flying from Minnesota, and using a van to travel in the Four Corners area in order to learn how other people interact with the Earth has added an extensive amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. Isn’t using all of this fuel for travel going against my very goal of reducing my footprint on this Earth?

It is hard to navigate these paradoxes that are apparent in my life, especially as I have been immersed in a culture that directly contradicts some of the values I possess. How does one deal with these feelings, this duality, that we face everyday? I’d like to do my best to treat the Earth with respect but I find myself acting in ways that don’t align with my beliefs. I suppose the way I deal with this is trying to counteract the things I have done, that I may not have been able to avoid, with more environmentally friendly choices in the other aspects of my life. Here is where I turn to a concept introduced to me by Donella Meadows in her article “Dancing with Systems.” She emphasizes the expansion of time horizons. This idea encourages me to think beyond the short time frames we focus in on as a society, most commonly a couple of years or a generation. Therefore, it becomes important to look both further into the future and in the short-term. So then, my emissions now will never be counteracted unless I take the same amount out of the atmosphere. But using the tools I have learned on the course I have the ability to add to the “good side” of my paradox, working with another system in the future. In this way of thinking, every little bit counts until large scale change can be made and potentially reduces the paradoxes I face in our society.

Sierra Deimling: Feeding Spiritual Hunger

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If there are two things that have my heart, it’s quality food and sustainability. Industrial agriculture is riddled with such a vast array of environmental and social justice problems I could combust simply typing about it. Issues include, but are not limited to, inexcusably low labor wages, storms of pesticides and herbicides on the loose, monocultured land that diminishes any chance of biodiversity, monstrous overuse of fossil fuels, and desertification of already arid land. Though America is dominated by these nemesis farms, I have found salvation in unsuspecting corners of the desert. My agricultural heroes of the Colorado Plateau include a 66 year-old organic farmer with the vibrant energy of a small child and a 76 year-old Hopi woman with a garden rooted in ancestral spirituality. These two have taught me that a spiritual approach to farming inevitably leads to sustainable farming.

If you ever find yourself on the outskirts of Hanksville, Utah, do yourself a favor and stop by the Mesa Farm Market. Within the market dwells owner Randy Ramsley, sporting a gray ponytail as he creates culinary masterpieces. “Food is important to spiritual development,” he explains as I feast on the salad he picked a few minutes prior. Randy’s philosophy on farming goes as such: by putting his love and energy into the crops, the crops will grow full of high-quality energy, which gives the consumer high-quality energy, who can then return that love and high-quality energy into the “collective consciousness” of the universe. Randy is asked if he thinks his farm adds to the resiliency of the land, to which he responds yes, because when birds fly by the farm, they say “Look!  Randy doesn’t spray crap! We can hang out here!” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Randy’s farm is about so much more than making money. I ask about his financial situation, and he answers “I barely make enough to stay afloat, and I’ve never been happier.” For Randy, the satisfaction of growing and cooking food that nourishes the land, the body, and the spirit is all the reward he could ask for. I walk away from Mesa Farm Market feeling physically and spiritually full from the fresh-baked bread, salad still flecked with soil, and yoghurt made from the goats I see happily munching on invasive cheatgrass in the backyard.

After our visit with Randy, we travel to the Hopi reservation to meet with Dorothy Denet of the Butterfly Clan. “We Hopi are two things. We are peaceful, and we are farmers,” she tells us. I scan the plateau and see no sign of farms or land that could have enough water to sustain a crop. Dorothy disproves my assumptions at her desert oasis of a garden, tucked back in the juniper scrub hills away from the village. “It’s simple, and it’s complicated.  It’s complicated, and it’s simple,” is her answer to nearly everything, particularly on how she can sustain a garden full of life amidst a drought-stricken desert. The simple answer is that there is a spring which provides irrigation for the garden, a rare luxury in this country. This spring has provided water for Hopi farmers ever since the 1400’s, leaving Dorothy’s crops to grow in culturally significant soil. Terraces of ancient gardens crumble down the side of the hill, allowing the imagination to run through what it might have looked like when it wasn’t just Dorothy’s garden, but the gardens of a whole village. For Dorothy, gardening is about keeping cultural traditions alive. “You must care for the seed as you would care for your child.” It is about love, and it is about faith.  In the valley below where springs are absent, Hopi farmers rely on nothing but faith in rain to irrigate corn and bean crops. Singing and dancing to encourage storms replace the task of hauling in water.

I don’t run an organic farm.  I am not Hopi. I do not have access to land that has been cultivated by my ancestors for centuries. I do, however, deeply resonate with Randy and Dorothy’s spiritual approach to farming. I am not religious, but have found spirituality in connecting to land. For me, spirituality is acknowledging my place in the world. It is seeing the inseparable connection between myself and the Earth. Growing food is a powerful tool in finding that spirituality, a tool I discovered from working on an organic farm in Montana. Eating the food I grow with love nourishes my body and spirit – a feeling that is impossible to achieve from eating an apple off the shelf in the grocery store.

The connection between spirituality and sustainability is clear when looking at Randy and Dorothy. “We can’t find a proper, sustainable relationship to nature, each other, or the institutions we create, if we try to do it from role of omniscient conqueror,” writes Donella Meadows in her essay Dancing with Systems.  Randy and Dorothy embody Meadows’ point.  The low price of industrial produce has blinded many of us from the reality of the system we are a part of. Land, food, and people are within the same system – you cannot separate one from another. To diminish the quality of one is to diminish the quality of all.  My heart is warm knowing that people like Randy and Dorothy are honoring these relationships with gardens and farms that protect our land, and in turn, our bodies.

Brianna Rykken: A Day Behind Glazed Eyes

Bri blog 2 photoWith this piece I am portraying two of the values of the wilderness; accessing the concrete, physical attributes that surround you and the reflective thought that they provoke. Some choose to see value in what is before their eyes whereas others find value in the opportunity to explore what goes on behind them. I have found the two to be more connected than one may think. Here is a day in the two intertwined realities that wilderness inspires.

                The day began heading down into Woodenshoe Canyon. The crisp morning chill was still in the air but the hot desert sun was making its way into our skin. This canyon is immediately different than the previous trips. There is a cleared, single-file trail for one! Also, a new rock layer is present, the Cedar Mesa Sandstone. It switches back and fourth from a deep red to a muddy white. It is home to many more tree than we have seen before. There are so many trees! Ponderosa, Pinons, Junipers. Everything is so green. It feels so alive.

Everything is green. It feels so alive.
I haven’t thought that since I was back home in Minnesota.
I wonder how everything is back home. I haven’t had much thought
of my family, we have been so busy. How are my parents? My sister
graduates soon. I am so excited to see them again.
Everything is green. It feels so alive.

                Camp is finally in vision. Hips are red from where packs rested all day. The wash near our site is dry but walking upstream, a vibrate swamp comes into vision. There are scattered pools throughout. The water is covered in a fine layer of pollen, but for tonight it will have to do. There are little flowers everywhere. The Naturalist Guide says they are Carpet Phlox. Nearing camp, there are tracks in the mud. There are bear prints! They have five short toes. This one must have been huge! It is so nice to be back in the wilderness.

It is so nice to be back in the wilderness.
What exactly is wilderness? Thomas Fleischner think it is where we
fall in love with the world. Wallace Stegner thinks it is simply an idea that
keeps him going. Funny how he sits at a desk and thinks about the
wilderness whereas I sit in the wilderness and think about him.
Its so nice to be back in the wilderness.

                Class begins in the late afternoon. The canyon walls rise high above us, forming the boundaries of the Dark Canyon Wilderness. The reading for today was The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature by William Cronon. “Wilderness, in short, was a place to which one came only against one’s will, and always in fear and trembling.” Why did they see things so differently?

Why did they see things so differently?
It’s a fair excuse, they didn’t know any better. I wonder who it is in
todays world who is so unable to see. Is it the miners? Or the environmentalists?
Or is it me?
Why did they see things so differently?

                The buttes around us glow under the setting sun, signaling that the day is coming to an end. A chill is creeping back into the air. Its smells of fresh pine. It is time to start tonight’s reading. Land management of Bears Ears National Monument is the focus. The administration justified this change by stating that the Monument was not “confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected…” as the Antiquities Act states, although this matter is still in litigation. It also stated that “Public lands will again be for public use.”

Public land will again be for public use.
Does this mean the workers who want the land for its resources?
What about the Native Americans who revere the land for its
sacredness? Or simply the hikers who love the land for its beauty? Is it
crazy to imagine that one day we could all see eye to eye?
Public land will again be for public use.

                The night has gone cold. One by one, the illuminating lights of headlamps are turned into darkness. The silence is only occasionally broken by the wind blowing through the trees and the deep breathes of the slumbering creatures who fill Woodenshoe Canyon tonight. The world is lit by a sliver of light brought by the infinite number of stars.