The Land and The Flame

Posted on Apr 15, 2023

Hi, this is half vent, half working out my thoughts. The tone is less than positive.
I’m going to write in general terms about some of the things I’ve observed. Please know I have no desire to speak ill of anyone in my life.

I love me a good camp fire. Something about the coziness of a warm flame and good company in the chill of the evening. There’s something primal in it, sometimes I find it hard to tear my eyes away from the flickering flames.

I’ve encountered something different from my new community.

I’ve noticed a desire for fire, not for the flames themselves, but as a means of disposal.

Got some sticks? Burn them. Logs? Burn them. Grass clippings? Burn them. Leaves? Burn them. Cardboard boxes? Burn them.

It almost seems like a compulsion. Bare dirt yards scoured of anything vaguely organic. Barrels filled with large branches, burning unattended while the owner goes about their business inside. The desire isn’t to connect, but to destroy material that is inconvenient.

I personally feel some responsibility to the land. If I’m forced to pretend that I have exclusive right to this patch of dirt, by the unknown god I’m going to take care of it. This patch of earth has been ravaged over the last century. It’s full of rubble, invasive plants, and generations of trash. The one thing it needs most is organic matter. As much of it as I can lay my hands on, so I can bootstrap an ecosystem sometime this decade.

My work over the rest of my life will hopefully sequester a few tons of carbon. I hope it will enable me to consume much less in general. I hope I can be an example for how others can do the same.

But in this moment, it’s disheartening. I feel radically disconnected from my neighbors because our values are so different. It feels like we’re always doing opposite things. They seem to love gasoline, pesticides, and flames. When I say I want a clover lawn they tell me not to because it’ll attract groundhogs and bees. When I talk about planting fruit trees they helpfully suggest I bulldoze the existing stand of trees that’s at least 50 years old.

I’m not sure what to do. I’m starting to connect with others online and nearby that share my values. But still, when I’m working outside, I feel out of place. Like an island in a sea of our grandparent’s mistakes.