Paper Towels Don’t Just Kill Trees

Paper towels don’t just kill trees.

They kill the family of baby birds nesting in the tree, leaving bird parents lost and wondering what happened to their children.

They kill the raccoon and opossum babies who were sleeping in a warm nest with their mothers.

They kill the insects and spiders that live on and around the tree.

They kill the plants around the tree, the sorrel, the ferns, the rhododendrons.

Giant tires from the machines that rip the tree from the ground smash the homes of mice and salamanders, killing them too.

Those same tires leave mud that drains into nearby streams, harming the lives that live there.

Paper towels don’t just kill trees; they destroy the lives of everything living nearby. Is it really worth it to destroy an entire community just so your hands can be dry?

Shake off your hands and let them air dry.
Death of an Ecosystem
More Death of an Old Growth ForestThe deaths of these trees mean the deaths of many others whose bodies we don’t see, left to rot in the forest. The forest “managers,” the corporations who profit from this death may have piled some of the destruction into mounds and set fire. All this death and destruction for what?

Rumble

The forests need to be managed, they say. The brush and plants growing at the bottom of trees, the “understory” has to be cut out because it causes forest fires, they say. Cutting down the trees is best, they say. Rumble.

They say what the public wants to hear so that the public won’t question them. In fact they create the “science” to back up what really is just meant to make cutting down the trees easier for them to do. If there isn’t brush in the way they can more easily back up their machines to kill and destroy the trees, hook on the chains, rip off their branches, drag them down and out, lay them on a truck.

Rumble.

One after another after another after another after another. The trucks rumble by. Every five minutes a truck full of logs drives by my house. Every five minutes another 20 or 30 trees carried out of the ruined forest.

Rumble.

How many walls are built out of the dead bodies on that log truck? How many shitty pieces of quarter round sold at the Home Depot? Rumble.

They love the big trees. The bigger the tree, the more “board feet of lumber.” Forests aren’t even discussed in terms of the ecosystems they represent. They’re seen as a “resource.” They are seen as siding, or fencing, or roofing, or a new office because the one that works just fine but isn’t pretty enough needs a “facelift” so the humans inside can keep their blinders on and pretend the world isn’t falling apart around them.

Rumble.

Once the trees are cut and taken, what is left is piled up and burned or left to rot. Detritus. Nothing here worth anything, at least to us.

Rumble.

Last year after the massive fires on Mt. Hood caused by a fool with a firework the husband of a friend posted on social media about how it was best to “manage” the forests. Humans needed to go in and cut the trees. He had learned this in school in forest management, taught by professors schooled by the timber companies. Because he had learned this at university, it had to be true, and he was passing his wisdom on to his friends.

Rumble.

Forest science. Forest engineering. Forest fucking manipulation to lead to Forest Products. That’s the point of the “science.” That’s the point of the “engineering.” The foxes teach the students how to catch the hens. The students become more foxes. The foxes tell the people that the hens need to be managed. They tell the people that the hens will become dangerous, that their homes will burn, that the hens can’t possibly live their own lives without fox intervention. The foxes need to remove the hens.

Rumble.

The universities with their Forest Science, and Forest Engineering, and Forest Products are all designed to create more willing cutters to remove the trees from the forests for human use alone. No matter that humans can’t BREATHE without trees. No matter that deer, and raccoons, and bears, and birds, and mountain lions, and salmon, and wolves, and fungi, and Rhododendrons, and Snowberry bushes, and beetles, and bees, and flies, and every other creature that lives in the forest needs the forest to exist as it has for thousands and thousands of years without human intervention.

Rumble.

They’ll bring in the stories about how native Americans used controlled burns to manage forests as platitude to keep everyone comfortable and justify their continued destruction. Nothing to see here, folks. Keep moving on. Oh, look! Tom Cruise is getting married. Did you know that?

Rumble.

I drove to Portland yesterday. On the way I saw at least six trucks filled with logs two and half and more feet thick. Those trees had been here before the Wetiko virus bearing humans came along and killed them. Now they’re dead. Now they’ll be in someone’s kitchen or on the side of an ugly McMansion.

Rumble.

The trucks don’t stop.

Rumble.

The Split Begins Early

The Eagle Creek fire is destroying forests all around Mt. Hood in Oregon and across the river in Washington. There are many fires raging, but this one is particularly wretched because it is known that it was begun by a teenager playing with fireworks. The woman who reported his action and the actions of the other teens with him described them as non-reactive to the likelihood they had started a fire in a very dry forest (see the story here). She said the girls were giggling and that they all were encouraging his behavior. They filmed it, like it was something fun to put on SnapChat or something. The woman’s description of these kids sounded like children who are very disconnected from their actions and the consequences for those actions.

In My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization, Chellis Glendinning describes the split, the dissociation from the self, that occurs in humans when they become “civilized.” Civilization is built on abuse and destruction. We began by destroying the land in order to grow things according to our own will. This led to abuse upon abuse upon abuse, to the point where abuse is the norm. Derrick Jensen, in The Myth of Human Supremacy, describes how in western civilization, we are indoctrinated from the moment of birth into a belief system whereby humans rule everything and that all the world is at their disposal. To my mind, the original sin was that of humans leaving the earth to “tame” and control it, bending it to their will, first through agriculture and on to the world we have today, where every aspect of the world is under human control. The Garden of Eden was the world before humans decided that they were “special” and that everything should be as humans decree. Thus, the split was born. Humans disconnect first from their selves, then from others, and finally from the world around them. Humans are the most invasive species, and the world is suffering because of it.

Today, that indoctrination begins practically before a child is born. It is not uncommon in this country for doctors and parents to schedule births induced by chemicals. That such births often result in the death of the fetus or the mother, or in an invasive surgical Caesarean section is no matter; it is a given that in most western births, induction of some sort will be the norm. Those of us who choose to have children at home with no drugs or medical intervention are considered bizarre and dangerous, as if the control of the hospital and the intervention of drugs is the more safe, and therefore, more sane route to childbirth. We are the wild west parents, putting ourselves and our delicate children in danger rather than having a birth controlled by chemicals and machines (or a doctor’s golf schedule).

Once the child is born, it is immediately placed into a system designed to disconnect it from anything remotely resembling connection to the self or its parents. The split is encouraged early. A “good” baby is one that sleeps all night as young as possible, without interrupting its parent’s lifestyle. One of the most common early questions of new parents is whether their child is sleeping through the night (because a baby who isn’t sleeping through the night makes it impossible for parents to sleep through the night, and discomfort of any kind is to be avoided at all costs in civilization).

Thousands of books have been written on the subject of getting children to sleep through the night alone. Doctors create systems such as that of Dr. Richard Ferber, whereby parents let their tiny infants scream and cry until they learn that their cries bring nothing and they finally give up and shut up. It is the ultimate in teaching children from a very early age not to trust that the world around them will be safe and welcoming. The parents hover outside, periodically going in and patting the child, then retreating to let it cry even further, viewing the action from a monitor in another room. It is pure insanity.

Children cannot tolerate sleeping away from their parents, and small babies need to be fed more frequently than once every eight hours, but never mind this. Parents still do it in western culture. Children are placed in cages in separate rooms away from their parents to sleep alone within days of birth. The parents hover over electronic monitors and cameras, rather than have their children in the same room or indeed, even in the same bed as them. In western civilization, a child who sleeps with its parents is considered to be “spoiled,” like a piece of meat gone bad. I have often wondered how bizarre it would be if wolves and bears laid their cubs in separate caves far from their mothers. What if mice placed each bare infant in multiple holes far from their warm breasts? Mammals have breasts for feeding infants. Only human mammals place their children in cages far from their breasts forcing them to ignore their own needs and call it normal (it’s an entire other subject and outside the scope of this rant how our language encourages all this crazy nonsense).

In addition to putting children in cages and ignoring their basic needs, parents feed them fake milk from plastic nipples rather than from their own breasts. In spite of multiple studies showing that this is bad for babies, bad for mothers, and even bad for the economy (which I could care less about, but which is a major force in this culture), breastfeeding children as long as nature intended remains a rare thing indeed among western mothers.

By the time children are two or three years old, they are already completely desensitized from what they were meant to be biologically. With the advent of iPads and other screen devices that further entertain and rewire the brain (see here, and here, and here), screens as babysitters are the norm. It’s no wonder that by the time some children are teenagers, they can toss firecrackers into a dry ravine and giggle as a fire begins to rage.

I could go on and on. This culture is crazy. Civilization is not how life is meant to be on this planet. We are the Earth. The Earth is us. Yet we continue to pretend we are separate and above it even as the obvious fact that we are not and that our attempts to control everything do not work. Mama Nature knows what is best. Sadly, we seem unable to see what is right in front of our faces and senseless destruction is the result.

Humans are Ewww

I joined this online group for “sustainable farming and homesteading.” Today I left the group. All anyone ever asked about was how to kill things they didn’t like. Today it was slugs. “I have slugs outside and they’re slimy. How can I kill large numbers of them?” Then the responders post in glee about global annihilation of these creatures that are just living their lives. The other day it was: “I have five acres with gophers on it. How do I kill them?” One of the responses was: “Gophers are stupid. Just get them to pop their heads up then bash them in.” It was always something. Some plant some human didn’t like. Some animal some human didn’t like. Then post after post about how to destroy whatever it was. It made me sick.

Goddamn I hate humans. We are the most destructive things on this planet. Who the hell are we to decide that this planet is ours to kill? Our sense of superiority is so embedded we can’t even see it. No other creature destroys something just because it can all of the time. Only humans. We tell ourselves the lie that we are superior to justify our continued destruction.

Fifty years from now when there is virtually nothing left alive on the planet will there be anything left to notice just how stupid we were? I doubt it.

Stuff and Things

It occurs to me that most people in our culture have lost sight of the fact that in chasing money, we are essentially chasing things. Someone wants a thing, and their desire for more money is the desire to have as many things as they want, when they want them. That’s what having more money brings. I’m not talking about the people at the very bottom of our capitalist triangle who have to struggle just to survive, those for whom a few dollars would mean the ability to stay very basically comfortable. I’m talking about any level above having what one needs to survive easily: a safe place to sleep, food, and health well-being. “Security” as it has been sold to us, is theoretically having enough money in the bank to ensure the safe place to sleep, food, and health. Yet for most it goes beyond that into wanting to have things. Ask anyone with dreams of riches and it is the lying on the beach or yacht anytime that they want, the clothes, the jewelry, the gadgets, the cars, and on and on, that fill their dreams. Pinterest is filled with photos of all the things that humans want. People will spend hours creating these online photo albums of all the stuff they desire. (In the meantime, while posting these things and dreaming about them, the interactions with humans and other non-human animals around them are limited.)

Yesterday I dropped off some stuff at the donation center. We are moving so we are getting rid of stuff. I have felt this immense urge to purge. What is all this stuff? The line at the place was cars deep, everyone ridding themselves of things, some of which had to have been wanted at some point. Either that or or they were ridding themselves of stuff someone gave them either out of a sense of duty to give, some obligation, or some other self-serving necessity. Perhaps for some the thing was given in love and received as such, but at this point, the thing is now being discarded, filling a warehouse, filling a landfill, being sold into places where the abundance of things is not as profuse as it is in the good, ol’ USA. Stuff, stuff, everywhere. In the meantime, we destroy the earth to build enormous buildings to house the things. We rape and pillage the land to carve roads and fill the land with things, things that will rot in piles long after we are gone.

Holiday Sonnet

Turgid turkeys, strained into rickety
wooden coffins, exit four-by-four from
a ten-ton hearse. Into the turkey mill:
mutilation, holocaust.

Perspiring hormones, Tom Turkey stares with
one sad eye at a crumbling chimney tower
belching death in putrid smoke, blackening
holiday skies. Annihilating light.

Bodies, bones. None remain unfrozen. With
elaborate precision he’s taken apart;
neck, gizzards tied in a bag between his
ribs, head ground neatly into pink hot dog slabs.

Holiday skies are crowded with turkey souls,
ascending to heaven like deflated balloons.

Population Reduction

I read another article today about how humans need to change their eating habits if we are going to survive. In it, the author presumed a human population of 10 billion by 2050.

What I would like to know is why the population numbers are taken as a given and considering reducing population numbers is never even explored. If humans really want to make a meaningful impact, we are going to have to do more than change our eating habits. We are going to have to reduce our populations to much smaller numbers. We are going to have to accept that some of us cannot have children. That is the price we all have to pay in order to have any possibility of survival (which is slim anyway, considering our many destructive impacts on this planet).

Of course, any time anyone brings up the possibility of reducing population everyone starts screaming and jumping up and down that we are going to infringe on rights or force poorer populations to stop having families, but overreacting and assuming the worst-case scenario doesn’t alter the current trajectory and distracts from the reality that if we don’t do it, nature is going to do it for us, and it’s going to do it in a much crueler manner than we could. Death by starvation is not pretty. Humans cannot continue living as they have. Humans with greater resources cannot continue living like their needs are the only needs, and ignoring the entire planet in the process.

It’s a fact–the planet is not limitless and living like it is will ensure its destruction.

Smoke and Fire

Love wins today. Love always wins. In this moment, there is love. The fear I feel from these fires is filled with love for this earth. The earth is us and we have eaten her like a cancer, eaten ourselves.

Our city was covered in smoke today blown in from wildfires in eastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. The entire Willamette Valley was covered in smoke. This fills me with sadness and dismay. I awakened because I needed to go to the bathroom. My room was stuffy because during the day Saturday the girls closed out the smoke. When I went to bed I didn’t reopen the window. When I awakened, the room felt stuffy so I opened the window to let in some fresh air. The breeze blowing in was crisp and smelled fresh. No smoke. But it got me thinking about the smoke and fires, awakened me. I looked on the internets and read stories about the smoke and fires and wept.

We are killing our planet, humans. We have to face reality. These fires. This water shortage. This changed summer that is like nothing we have ever experienced. These heat waves over and over and over. 2 degrees Celsius average increase means temperatures of 130 degrees. Can you live with that?

We are taking something so beautiful and killing it for our convenience. What have we gained? What has industrialization gained us? We have less time to spend together than ever before. We live in boxes separated from one another and stare at screens in our hands and on our desks instead of looking at one another and what do we get from it? Our planet burns. It sweeps water from the oceans across the land. We are destroying species at rates unheard of for millions of years. Yes, it is us. For convenience. What will it take to wake people up? Will it be our own extinction?

I hold my small daughter in my arms and feel such love for her and also such real grief and fear of what she will grow up into.

Nature does bat last, but really, who wins this if the planet is burned and gone?

January showers bring…February flowers?

Today I drilled holes in pots to make olla pots for my garden to water more efficiently. My greenhouse is THIS close to being done, but there is still a hole on one wall up top and today was windy and stormy, so I climbed up and tacked up a piece of plastic to stop the rain from blowing in. While I was perched precariously on the edge of the fence, small nails held between my lips, a hammer balanced in one hand as I held on and attached the plastic there, I saw a honeybee. It was quivering on top of the greenhouse, doing that weird honeybee dance they do, wiggling its back end. I wasn’t sure what it was doing sitting on top of my greenhouse in the wind and periodic rain drips. No other bees were in sight. There were no flowers near it. It looked fragile, there in the wind in the wrong time of year. It was too warm outside for the time of year. Balmy and weird.

My raspberries are coming up. The tulips and daffodils are fully bloomed. The cherry trees in my yard are bloomed. My lilies are popping little points up through the soil. Usually in February I spray my fruit trees with dormant spray, but you’re supposed to do it when they’re dormant, and little buds were already present, so no dormant spray. They’re young and I’m sure they’ll be fine, but there aren’t many pollinators out in this bizarre weather, which means likely little fruit this year. This is not normal and not a pattern from the past. Humans have caused this and humans want to ignore it in favor of the latest football scores or whatever else that helps us to ignore the obvious right in front of our faces. It’s like we have a tumor on the side of our head and want to just look around it and pretend it’s not there. The spring rhyme goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” It’s not January showers bring February flowers, and these flowers that are here in March were here in February. We don’t give Valentine’s lilies, we give Easter lilies. At Easter. In actual spring. It isn’t spring in the northern hemisphere where I live. We haven’t had the equinox yet. It is still winter here. So many seem to forget this while infatuated with the sunny weather. This isn’t normal.

If your children were in harm’s way, you would try to help them regardless of the outcome because you love them. Shouldn’t it be the same for the Earth, which is us? We are the Earth. We should help her instead of committing slow suicide (though not so slow anymore, it seems).

I’m writing this sitting in warm covers in a snuggly bed. I washed all of my bedding today and it smells fresh and clean, and it’s soft and cozy. I’m so grateful to have a warm bed in a warm house, my dogs snoring softly near me as I write. I’m lucky, and I’m grateful for what I have.

Would You Change?

Tell me: If you knew for absolute certain that your way of life today was guaranteed to cause the end of life on this planet within a few decades, if it meant this situation could be reversed if you did so, would you stop completely and live an agrarian lifestyle, or would you say To hell with it. I’m here and there are no guarantees, then continue living as you have been?

I truly want to know.

It’s a pretty safe bet based on the science that our demise (and that of all life) is just around the corner. (For excellent scientific citations, see the article here at Nature Bats Last.) So keep ignoring all the evidence and pretend the wannabe “evidence” is better so no changes must be made? Gotta have those plastic easter eggs after all, right? So I want to know, what level of proof would it take to make you change? Would it have to be “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Or “more likely than not”? What level of evidence would it take to make this change, or would you just keep going as you are even if there was absolute certitude of the world’s demise unless we stop living as we have been.

Again, I want to know. Take this poll and tell me:

When Ice is Fire

Humans, humans. Going about their business. Living their lives. Making their sounds. Taking up more than their share of space everywhere. Assuming they are the center of everything. Ignoring the meteor heading right toward Earth.

Ah, there she goes again, getting all caught up in that climate change hype again.

Yeah, that’s me. Certain our future at this point is a ball of fire headed in a trajectory straight toward the center of the planet. I keep leaning toward the possibility of something else, then turn my face toward the sky and see that meteor hell bound for us and feel that reality forcing me to acknowledge its existence. I feel that meteor’s heat upon my skin. I see the path it is burning and it is impossible not to feel a little frightened, not to feel overwhelmed by the probability of it all, not to feel ashamed for my race, not to feel desperate to do something, anything besides sit back and let it happen.

A huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a glacially slow, unstoppable collapse. Alarmed scientists say this means even more sea level rise than previously expected.

Genius, humanity. Good for you.

Every Day is Earth Day, or Should Be

On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, children wonder why there isn’t a Children’s Day. Their parents tell them Every day is Children’s Day. Perhaps this is true. What isn’t true, but should be, is that every day is Earth Day, and having a small number of people trying to get the rest of the world to focus on it for one small day is not enough, not even close. Earth Day is like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and all the other holidays rolled into one. The Earth is our life giver. We should be celebrating her because she is us and we are her.

Yet as has been the case since humans decided they should be at the top of a triangle instead of flowing in a circle with the rest of the Earth, we have taken steps to dissociate from that connection and now here we are, in a place where we believe the planet revolves around us and the result is that the planet and everything on it is dying. Many respected climatologists believe we can turn this around. I’m a bit more pessimistic, but I certainly don’t believe we should not try. Earth isn’t Earth anymore. As Bill McKibben so eloquently stated in his book by the same name, Earth is now Eaarth, a different place than any of us were raised. We’ve interfered and taken it beyond recognition. Yet, this doesn’t mean we should not take care of what is left. We are Eaarth and Eaarth is us. We owe it to everything, not just ourselves and our children, to wake up and turn things around.

Every day is Eaarth Day, or it should be. Wake up humanity, or it will be too late.

We’re Killing our Planet

We are killing our planet, and while it might be the tiny fragment who benefit in the short term monetarily, it is anyone who refuses to acknowledge or stop the problem who is equally complicit. I start to list all of the things we are doing to this earth, most of which is done in the name of increasing short-term wealth for a very few, but much of which increases conveniences for a lot of us, and the list grows too big to write out in a blog post. There are books listing all we are doing and what could and should be done (Eaarth by Bill McKibben is a favorite), so I don’t really need to list out all of it anyway. Sometimes it is just hearing about a couple of these things within the same two hours that gets my stomach rolling. Today in Master Gardener class we discussed the multiple assaults that are decimating the bee populations. This was followed closely by the big money, big oil bullshit report by the USDA on the Keystone XL pipeline. Most Americans aren’t following this, and of those who are, many don’t realize that those who wrote the report were hand-picked by big oil interests. Gads, when are people going to realize that we are being railroaded on every front? How bad does it have to get?

Herein lies another part of why I rarely write here anymore is because it all just seems too big and too insurmountable. I am simply one tiny voice not being heard. This is not sour grapes; it is reality. I have thought and analyzed and considered and wondered, and then thought about it all again, what is the purpose in my writing here? The conclusion I continually draw is that if I’m trying to get some message out about what we are doing to this earth, this blog adds very little to the conversation, and so I don’t write, not much anyway, because it is so overwhelming.

We have to save our planet. People have got to start caring and doing more than separating their trash into piles that can be recycled versus those that can’t. It is going to take something bigger from each and every one of us. In the meantime, the planet will never be the same. It can’t. We can only hope to make it a place that we can live on for more than a few more decades. We have got to see past this minute and understand our long term actions. We have got to be mindful in every single thing that we do, because it has an impact. We ALL have an impact. Go buy some plastic contrivance for your child’s birthday? Recognize that the plastic contrivance has a long-term impact, then ask whether it is worth the trade off. I cannot imagine anyone who really understands this ever believing that whatever they gain from the plastic contrivance will outweigh the life of our earth. Because it is that important. Every tiny decision adds to the mass that makes everything a very, big deal. It does overwhelm me because it really is that big and because we have chosen not to pay attention, now we will be forced to take action as we are bombarded by climate event after climate event, and lose species after species after species.

I really believe if we are to survive, and honestly I’m not sure I would want to be a part of an earth populated only with humans, we have got to change. We have to stop participating in a system that doesn’t work. We have got to stop polarizing and warring. It will only happen through peace and love, if we can actually get there. I see glimmers of hope, interspersed with stories about the bees and the Keystone XL, but sometimes it is really difficult to maintain equanimity.

I Just Can’t Stand It

I’m so frustrated with this country.  I wish I had never heard the results of the Massachusetts election.  I can’t stand the stupid, short-sightedness in this country.  If anyone thinks Republicans are going to do anything to fix anything, they are fucking crazy.  This country would not be in this mess if it weren’t for decades of conservative thinking.  It never works.  People think the middle of the road Democrats need to fix things immediately or they will just vote in the bastards who created the mess in the first place, and things only get worse.  Problems take years to accumulate and they want changes to happen in minutes.

Conservative thinking has made a concerted effort to make Americans believe government is the problem, then they set out to gut government in order to back up their goals, getting people to believe that laissez-faire, market-driven capitalism is in their interests.  After their jobs have been sent overseas, their homes taken from them, no healthcare, no food, gutted schools, and no social programs to speak of, Americans blame government for the problem, rather than blaming the tiny elite who manipulated them in the first place using issues like abortion and same-sex marriage to get people to vote against their economic interests.  It’s terrifying.  In reality, governments work well in many countries, countries that let governments run effectively and don’t let big money run loose to do as it pleases.

I find it ironic that the same people who lament the giant banks and their big bonuses and corrupt business practices vote in the same people who ensure these policies stay in place and their actions will become even more blatant.  It makes me crazy.  People listen to uneducated fools like Sarah Palin, think she’s “like them,” in spite of the fact her bank account is nothing like theirs and she makes our nation look like a country of fools.  They get caught up in the hateful ire of Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, without considering the motivations of these very wealthy, very hateful men.  They blame Obama for the bailouts, and he wasn’t even president when it happened!  I’m so sick of the ignorance, I can barely manage to follow politics in this country anymore.

I know the people I admire urge me to continue to try and make the world a better place, that in giving up hope, those hateful bastards win.  But seriously, how is one supposed to cope knowing things are only going to get worse and knowing I have two children for whom I want the world to be a better place, and for whom I want a planet for them to live on and prosper?  It almost makes me ashamed for having brought them into this place.  I love them more than life itself.  I only hope there is a planet for them to live on that isn’t as bleak and horrible as it seems doomed to be.

So Unbelievable

 

My daughter likes box elder bugs. They are these harmless beetle things that only live for about a week. They have red stripes on their back and they fly, their wings little red capes whirring behind them in flight, kind of like little insectian super heroes.  They enjoy warmth, so they hang out in windows and places with heat. They do not bite. They do not sting. The do not emit smelly odors. They do not eat houseplants. They do not do anything whatsoever that harms humans or their dwellings. The biggest complaint about box elder bugs is that they like to come in the house where it is warm, and who can blame them? box-elder.jpg

I did a google search on box elder bugs for my daughter. She loves the things. They are fairly prolific around here in the fall and spring while it’s still warm but not terribly hot. She fills her pockets with them. I told her I was writing about her and box elder bugs and she said, “Oh, I haven’t played with them in a while, cute little things.” That should give you some idea of Milla’s persuasion towards box elder bugs.

Imagine my surprise then to learn that most sites about box elder bugs deal with how to kill them. They are called pests for wanting to come inside. One site listed some nasty poisons a person can use for box elder elimination, including bifenthrin (possible human carcinogen), cyfluthrin (moderate acute toxicity and suspected endocrine disruptor), deltamethrin (a neurotoxin that attacks the nervous system), lambda cyhalothrin (moderate acute toxicity and suspected endocrine disruptor), permethrin (highly toxic to fish and cats), and tralomethrin (effects include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, fatigue, and in severe cases, seizures may develop).  All of these insecticides are toxic poisons and can harm humans, sometimes even in smaller quantities. Many of them are quite harmful to the animals we share our lives with, as well as those we would rather avoid. What I find so unbelievable is that people would bring toxic chemicals into their homes, spray them, spread them, breathe them, rather than share their space with a harmless insect that does nothing except try to get warm and dies in under a week anyway.  Where is the sense in that?

When I was in law school, Milla’s father and I were still together. We wanted to buy our own house.  We took the advice of a well-meaning, but misguided friend who assisted us in making this purchase. She owned a wealthy home-building company whose clients consisted mainly of older, usually conservative people with lots of money. We did not take our lifestyle into account whatsoever when we took her advice to build our own house as far as possible from the center of town in a suburb.

What a mistake.  We ended up in this country suburb.  As is often the case in these developments, it was named for what it had been:  Big Meadow. The meadow was gone and in its place were stepford houses in limited shapes and sizes, with perfectly manicured lawns and neutral paint, as required by the unrelenting neighborhood regulations. We did not last long there. I quickly realized I was not suited for this. I needed a house to fix up, and since ours was brand new, there wasn’t a lot to do to it. I needed plants to love. We gave the house our love, built a fence and a dog run, but we simply did not fit in. The neighbors brought us proselytizing literature on a weekly basis.  Every visit to the store provided an invitation to our auto windshield to attend a local church play. We were one of only a handful of families who recycled.  Basically, we were major sore thumbs.

Our immediate next door neighbors were especially different from us. The main thing about them that I remember is that on periodic afternoons the woman of the house had her teenage sons out in the yard and driveway with square-nosed shovels to search for garter snakes to kill. She did not want them anywhere near her home. Since her house backed up to the edge of what had been the big meadow the neighborhood obliterated, garter snakes were frequently in evidence. After her sons killed a sufficient number of garter snakes, she would spread poison all over her yard to kill insects. She would kill the harmless garter snakes that would have eaten the insects and chose instead to cover her yard in toxic chemicals.  Insane.

I am constantly amazed at the irrationality of human beings. I am certain that irrational behaviors are likely part of my makeup simply because I am human. I would like to think though, that most of my ridiculousness isn’t destroying the planet.  I hope not. I can hear it now how someone just doesn’t like the legs on bugs. Spiders give them the creeps. They don’t like the “idea” of something coming into their bed. So they’ll spread toxic chemicals all over their house and lawn to rid themselves of “pests.” At least the chemicals aren’t creepy and crawly.

I find it ironic that acts of compassion and kindness are considered humane, as if placing the name of homo sapiens on such behavior distinguishes us from other creatures on earth. Yet the only thing that really distinguishes humanity is our ability to systematically annihillate ourselves and our planet because of silly things like insect legs or the possibility that another creature might come into our beds. I just don’t get it. Perhaps a better definition for humane would be anything except compassion and kindness since our race seems hell bent on destroying this place we call home. At least we can say that while we were on our way out we didn’t have to share our lives with the box elder bugs.