Two turkey vultures circle silently overhead. Ominous. One raindrop falls from a cloudless sky and hits the corner of my eye. Is the sky grieving too? I have been grieving for the planet these last few months, and today that grief is focused on the place I have called home for 36 years.
Newcomers to Crestone/Baca may think they have found an escape here, at the end of the road. Perhaps a temporary respite from the intensity “out there”, but there is no escape. We are all suffering the effects of our culture’s unsustainable and ungrateful plunder of mother earth’s gifts.
Crestone may have seemed special. People seemed to care about one another and the earth more than elsewhere. They make offerings to a life before they take it for their own benefit. Now, however, a visitor to downtown Crestone on the weekends is deprived of the silence, the peace and quiet that was our trademark whether they enjoy techno rock or not. What have they offered in return? And new home buyers are making money off the town’s charm and access to wilderness by making B&Bs instead of affordable rentals for local workers. Is their profit coming back into the community?
Dozens of new homes are being built. Do we really need to site new construction in a place that destroys dozens of trees? Newcomers have no idea how difficult it is to establish new “replacement” trees here. They require a lot of attention and water on a regular basis. And besides, carbon sequestration experts tell us that older trees are much more effective than reforestation projects.
The effects of climate change already influence our local bird, insect and animal populations. Gardeners are missing the birds and pollinators that used to be plentiful. Are we ignoring more drastic effects all over the planet just because we have not yet had a devastating wildfire here? And this is just the tip of the iceberg of the mega drought predicted for the western United States for the foreseeable future.
As we gather together at the end of the road, let’s expand our human-centric vision to include animals and insects, trees, and birds. Can we forgive the silence-addicted old timers who don’t like loud music? I apologize for driving a car that requires so much carbon fuel and living in a community that created miles of roads. One gallon of gas produces 20 pounds of CO2. I vow to protect trees and drive less. Perhaps we can all think of ways to make life a bit better for the planet as well as for everyone at the end of the road!