Tuesday, November 13, 2012

R.I.P. Jack Gilbert: Another Poet Crosses the Bar

A Brief for the Defense
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Short Term Pain, Long Term Gain

Today the Lomakatsi Restoration Project will begin an oak restoration project on our beloved piece of paradise at Two Creeks. Lomakatsi contacted us last spring with a proposal to thin out some of the smaller trees on the property. Their goal is to preserve the big oaks. Sudden oak death syndrome is wiping out the great oak forests of California and so the federal government has provided funding to support the remaining oak forests of the west.  Our property is in a transition zone between the oak forest and the conifer forest and is home to a remarkably diverse range of flora and fauna, including some large and beautiful oak trees. Lomakatsi toured the property with Sequoia, created a restoration plan, applied for and won the federal funding and will carry out the thinning project.  Their plan is to cut trees that are less than 16” in diameter and are under the drip line of the big oaks. 
As you can imagine, Sequoia has been deeply involved with every aspect of the planning process. On Monday, he went on one last tour with project manager to review the first set of cutting areas. He literally approved or denied permission to cut each individual tree.  That’s our man, the Large Lorax; he speaks for the trees.

If you visit next summer, you will definitely see evidence of the work.  Parts of the property may look a bit scalped for the next couple of years.  We planted many of those conifers ourselves and  it will break my heart to see them go.  It’s a leap of faith, but we believe the work will reduce overall fire hazard and encourage the long term health of the forest.  It’s the right thing to do.

On the upside, we are going to end up with ridiculous amounts of firewood, years worth of firewood, plus lots of fir poles, which we hope to use in a meadow rehab project.  James Dean scored a new platform during the OSF strike this year and we plan to demolish and replace the old platform this winter. (About time, right? It’s a miracle it lasted this long.) We also plan to eventually build a pole shelter over the kitchen.  One step at a time.
I’ll keep you posted on the progression of the forest restoration work. I’ll also send out an announcement and request for help when it’s time to demo and replace the platform.  I foresee a very large bonfire in our future.