With jumpers already thrown down as goal posts, a single Alder gets picked last when the trees play football; no Spring show; and no pool of gold at its feet. Awkward by itself, it comes and goes, with no fanfare. The maroon it wears in winter reinforces its isolation, but as a team they are a force of nature.
The ecology of an Alder wood, roots deep in primal ooze, shin deep in winter floods, is one of hope. Here, even in a mild winter Alder is the boss. At this time, when dusk hits in the middle of the afternoon spirits move. Picking through the cones on the outer most branches Siskins quietly giggle amongst themselves. Pointing at the earth bound man sinking deeper as he stands still, Siskin twinkle. Even when they sell their soul and feed from garden seed dispensers they bring with them the air of untamed wilderness.
Long before I saw my first Siskin I had listened to the words of Native Americans as they responded in 1855 to the advances of the ‘white Chief’ in Washington. How can one sell the air?. It contains the first strands of understanding of consumerism and some things that are beyond money. In this mud and ooze of youth there was a fertile place to bury a seed. To be followed by the cold rain, summer heat and patience, too much patience.
But money makes the world go round; get a good job with more pay and you’re OK; getting old way to early just to impress you with the money they make. Then suddenly something reminds you that, ‘ When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money‘. It is at this point, the seed hidden away for so long begins to grow.
The election in the US is the single biggest ecological disaster in my life time and it will unfold while we bash out a few characters on Twitter. In January 2016 the Domesday Clock remained at 3 minutes to midnight. It is a representation of the danger from threats like climate change, weapons technologies, and perhaps most importantly, the potential for nuclear war. The closest the clock has ever come to “midnight” was in 1953 when the Soviet Union conducted its own hydrogen bomb tests following tests by the United States. At that time the Doomsday Clock was two minutes to midnight. Don’t expect it to still be at three minutes in 2017.
How do I know? Look to North Dakota. Here Native Americans will be evicted from their land on the anniversary of General Custer’s Birthday -5th December. They are protecting their water supply from the pollution that will come from the oil access pipeline. The black snake of ancient mythology that signals the beginning of the end. This is a few days after Canada’s Trudeau approves pipelines to extract more oil from tar sands. At a time when we need to move away from oil based technologies and meet the Paris climate agreement. Remember the bad guy has not arrived in the White House yet.
So I return to my small piece of Alder woodland. In the growing darkness I watch a Woodcock pick along the edge of a small puddle. This is the only place I have been able to watch this secretive bird feed undisturbed. Crossing my fingers will not stop them ebbing away, as a tide never destined to return. Nor will it keep the water fresh or the trees in the ground, but we cannot just let the crime of the century unfold.