In waning light of dusk
And unrelenting tide
I saw a sparkling coin
Tossed from side to side.
Embraced within the frosty foam
It glittered with delight
As though in endless struggle there
Found its golden light.
Through countless trials, though weary,
Will we wake each day,
With open minds and clearly,
Grow in loving ways?
Knowing that in giving,
We forestall the cold of night
And take joy in the living,
Thriving in the light.
The Earth weeps in silent tears
And torrents coursing through,
Flowing into pools and streams
Tumbling into blue
Through mountains mined and drawn,
Through verdant forests tread,
Pools, lakes and eddies fouled
Spring from the watershed.
As Earth weeps, rivers flow
Through wetlands, hills and cranny,
Through rock and clay, soot and sand
Cascading to the sea.
Distilled within, unspoken,
Mankind’s final, deadly game
To reach the summit’s Holy Grail,
Lucre, by any name;
Deaf to nature’s songs and moods,
Heedless to beauty’s lore,
Intemperance in its surly grasp,
Callous to the core,
And so, in tides, Earth’s tears abide
On beaches born and bled
From rivers running ever
Rising from the watershed,
In dreams drawn and silenced
From torrents coursing through,
Flowing into pools and streams
Tumbling into blue.
Anita Suzanne Tillemans, October 2014
In regard to Stonehenge, it is important for a bigger picture to consider the effect of farming cultures moving in to the British Isles, the sacrifices found at Stonehenge (one of an archer) the charred remains of people and animals, the correlation of these sites with burial grounds and the placement of these stone monoliths as a way of depicting seasons, when Stonehenge in its final stage coexisted with older wood henges.
Were these stone monuments, in lieu of the wooden structures, simply an advancement in construction; and/or rather, construction as statement, a statement of progress and a progression from indigenous, hunter-gatherer culture into the agribusiness and a more stratified culture, a culture where more and more depended upon the commerce of a few.
All cultures have been fascinated by the heavens, by the sun, stars and moon … and would, therefore, favor the foretelling of seasons; this is nothing new, but it is not much of a leap, either, to understand how farming became a way for those few, who had the foresight and the will, to gather more land for the production of food and therefore more wealth. Stonehenge, it seems, would be a perfect way to gather and dispel information that all wanted and needed, and change the perspective of many in their gatherings at the site.
We are familiar, as well, how the beliefs of indigenous cultures can be used to inculcate a system that supports the agendas of powerful people … time and time again. The hunter-gatherers were more or less nomads, moving with the wild and benefiting from the forests. Some would train wolves to guard and herd a few domesticated animals; but, on the whole, this did not take on the scale of farming methods brought in by the Europeans. It might have been a benefit, therefore, to use pagan rituals to create a system that would support the farming culture, and thus Stonehenge in its final stage, created not only to predict the changing seasons but to promote the change to farming in society through ritual and sacrifice.
Farming brought increased populations to the area because of the greater abundance of food, which then produced and required more tilled soil and less forest. So many studies make no distinction between the indigenous populations that created earlier versions of the henge in wood to the final Stonehenge created from stone. It is also interesting that attribution is not only made to the pagans, who had thrived off forests for thousands of years, but also to the “druids”,with little evidence of their existence before 200 BC; when, in fact, construction of the “stone” henge built by 2500BC, the one we see today, was a practice brought by those European farmers who immigrated to the isles during that time. It seems most likely that it was under this particular influence that the stone monuments and burial mounds were built.
By 2500 BC, metals were brought to England and by 2000 BC most of the forests that covered the British Isles were a memory. So much of what man calls progress ends up destroying parts of the natural world and I wonder, is it possible to change and broaden our perspective?
This painting is my vision of Stonehenge as a monument to the new culture of farming with the ghosts of a forest in the background as the land is cleared.
Unaware of the History of Nipigon/Black Sands, we visited this beautiful area in the early 1980’s and observed from afar in orange haze-filled skies the burning of forested wetlands in the BWCA and northern climes of Minnesota. Apparently ignited from the embers of a camper’s fire, it burned most the week of our stay.
One of the experiences that remains of that time, forever etched, was the quiet, as they say, a quiet that could be “cut with a knife”. My two children were 6 and 7 as they explored the forest with us and built their “dock” on the shore, hiked and swam all that week. It was an experience I am sure that I will never have again.
There were “no see ’ems” that left their bloody mark, biting flies and wildflowers, a cougar running on the road with tail up before it disappeared into the woods. I saw my first wild rose there, and took my first make-shift shower under a tree. We existed without radio … because there was no reception. We sat around a campfire with toads singing to the light and told scary stories … one of them, the Black Cat, by Edgar Allen Poe.
Those first few days were beautiful and vibrant, full of life everywhere, songs of birds and animals … and then, the air stilled, except for the rustle of some large animal outside our camper door in the pitch black of that Ontario night. We thought it might have been a bear. By the next day, we could sense the change.
When my family went into the nearest town to get supplies, I stayed. With no reception on the radio, there was a profound silence. All I had known, all my life, was sound … noise from cars, from television, radio, lawnmowers, the hum of appliances, the assault of noise, constant and enduring. The silence was at once deafening and an awakening.
In those hours before the children returned with their father, it was all so apparent that the forest inhabitants knew something we did not. The sound of the car and the voices of my family reassured me that I was not alone, that this was not my imagination and something was definitely amiss. As the sun developed a haze and the blue sky clouded with a veil of smoke, it became clear what the little creatures around us had known for more than a day already.
We found information from venturing into town for the news and stayed at the park for a little longer before our vacation had ended. In the week that we were there, it was a jewel. A jewel to know that places like this still existed. It was an honor to have been able to see, to sense the peace of that place, to leave a clean campsite and know now that those who cared for this beautiful place thousands of years, will have their home back. May the whole of society begin to do the same as these people did. May we leave this beautiful campsite, Earth, as we found it. As a wise old white man, once said:
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Sun descending, purple haze,
Dragon wings into the wind.
The moonlit water.
Living mother, lord of all
Evening earth and tides,
Garden of our ancestors,
In loving care abides.
A curious child, unwitting,
Stands at the stormy gate,
Prods, provokes and challenges;
But understands too late,
That time, oh precious time,
Will beat no last retreat
As earthly mother, lord of all,
Rumbles at his feet.
A visit to the Union Depot in St Paul brought to mind the Great Northern Depot built in 1913 on Hennepin Avenue, which was demolished in 1978, along with the Berman Buckskin building and the Chicago Great Western railway freight warehouse, to make room for development in Minneapolis, where the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis stands today.
Amtrak began running out of the Great Northern Depot in 1971 after I moved to Minneapolis in the late 1960’s; and this was the station from which I took one of Amtrak’s last trips to Duluth from this location. The Great Northern Depot was a huge, stately building built on the designs of architect, Charles Frost, who went on to design St Paul’s Union Depot, which is a wonder to see.
A picture taken on my trip to the Depot in St Paul yielded material for my latest painting.
Things do not seem to be getting any better for the environment since my first trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula in 2003. The night before that trip, snowfall set leaves changing in the Porcupines morphing from a few muted colors to the most beautiful hues of reds and yellow; and as we ventured to Lake of the Clouds for what was to be one of my most memorable trips to Lake Superior, I believed that beauties like these would surely remain protected for as long as there were people to see. With the upcoming tax bill, I wonder.
In the morning of our trip to Pictured Rocks out of Munising all was clear and calm on Lake Superior. It was not until we were almost half way into our boat tour of the shore that the lake turned from a glassy surface to a churning tub of foamy water as my friend and I continued to take photos of the shore. Sensibly, the rest of the passengers sat below with the captain and his crew. It may not have been wise, but we were lost in the moment and the beauty.
Tonight, the Senate will vote on a tax bill that will transfer dollars in the trillions from the poorest of us to the richest of us. It will also open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploitation, endanger the support we have in this country for mothers, children, the working middle class and especially those with children and who are too poor to itemize.
They say that when the rich people and corporations, who will benefit most, get their tax breaks, this will cause them to become the most charitable of sorts. They say that these corporations will throw caution to the wind and let their money trickle down out of their hands into better paying jobs and more of them, bigger benefits for the poor and more and better opportunities for all in essence. These poor over-taxed corporations will now have extra money to do good it seems.
Not too surprisingly, most of us won’t be waiting for this to happen. It seems, jaded from past tax breaks that never loosened the grip of these sorts before, we will probably be busy just trying to decide where to spend the few dollars that remain split between food, medical and various frivolous expenditures like transportation and child care, education and, if we are very lucky, a few trips to see such places as our National Parks, that is, before they too, belong to only the richest of us.
Looking into the cold waters of Lake Superior in an approaching gale did not elicit the same fear I have today on the eve of this impending disaster.
May we find wiser men and women to steer our course in the elections ahead.
Timber wolves have long shared the wilderness with mankind and so it is in Northern Minnesota. If Polymet builds a copper mine in the Arrowhead of Minnesota, and sets the precedent for other companies to do the same, it becomes obvious, then, why the removal of wolves and others from the “endangered species” list has been such a persistent issue. In order to mine, the taking of endangered species becomes an added cost, since a permit must be issued for the taking.
Among the animals that have been taken from “endangered” to “threatened” are the gray wolf and the Canada lynx. I include just one link below.
Our water will be more than “threatened” by a mine in this wilderness, and so will the lives of all species in the area, whether “endangered”, “threatened” or not. A rose by any other name is still a rose.
One can view this house on the way to Silver Lake by bus. The tree on its east, now gone, was a reminder of the elms that stood majestically along the boulevards in Minneapolis over 45 years ago. These trees have been taken down in great numbers … because, it seems, it was more cost effective to lumber them than to save them.
Trees are money of course. Never mind that they harbor and nourish wildlife, birds of all kinds and others, including humans, that require the shelter, the food, the shade, breadth and breath of an old tree.
Heart-sick watching these giants being harvested in the city of Minneapolis … to make room for more big box houses and parking lots, water parks, roads, sidewalks, and for pulp, mulch, or table tops and doors.
When will we, as a society, learn that old growth trees are essential … that we need clean air … clean water … and earth that is growing? In this regard, trees are vital. Money will not provide this. We will continue to see species extermination until this is learned in earnest throughout the whole of human society.
Do we own our technology, or does it own us? Do we own our possessions, or do they own us? Will we be happier with bigger houses and fancier cars, trips to somewhere else when we have no true investment in the places we live? Better not to grow any investment if it means destroying our base and, with it, the living legacy of our old trees.
I miss the canopy that stood over the boulevards in Minneapolis when I arrived almost 50 years ago … replaced by saplings, which are being trimmed regularly to optimize board feet when harvested. The arbor that arched over our streets cannot be replaced in an entire lifetime. What kind of world are we making on our way to making money?
We walked along the shore looking out over the Pacific Ocean, wandering around giant cedars that had drifted up along the shore … nature’s taking …. and yet mankind continues to take so much more – clearing mountaintops of ancient stands of cedars in the Olympic National Forest. Giants felled, and man the so-called “conqueror”.
Was this path intended all along? Civilizations have come and gone for much the same reasons; and we never seem to learn that these resources are finite.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Seems the only answer to this dilemma; and yet, where are we along that path?