Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How can you Buy or Sell the Earth?

Some years ago when we were in Rocky Mountain National Park, we bought a poster called "How can you Buy or Sell the Earth". Here's the story:

In 1854, the United States Government offered to buy two million acres of Native American land in the Pacific Northwest. The following statement on behalf of the environment was supposed to have been made by Chief Sealth (Seattle) in reply to President Franklin Pierce in December, 1854. It has been described as the most beautiful and prophetic statement on the environment ever made.

Note: There is some controversy about whether or not these words were exactly what the Chief said, but the words still hold a lot of wisdom, so I'd like to think they are true.

The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and good will. This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in return. But we will consider your offer.

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing, and every humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man. So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us...

This we know: All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. But we will consider your offer to go to the reservation you have for my people. We will live apart, and in peace.

One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover - our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land: but you cannot.

He is the God of man; and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white. This earth is precious to Him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where in the eagle? Gone. And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival. So we will consider your offer to buy the land.

If we agree, it will be to secure the reservation you have promised. There, perhaps, we may live out our brief days as we wish. When the last red man has vanished from the earth, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, these shores and forests will still hold the spirits of my people. For they love this earth as a newborne loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell our land, love it as we've loved it. Care for it as we've cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you take it. And preserve it for your children, and love it ... as God loves us all. One thing we know. Our God is the same God. This earth is precious to Him. Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all.

We shall see...

The words are deep with wisdom, and I wanted to frame the poster in a simple way that matches the sentiments expressed in it. So I bought some hemp twine, dark handmade paper and wooden sticks.

I painted the sticks and tied the poster to the sticks with twine, the way I've seen some Native American art framed. Here is how it looks now:

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Avocado Story

I took a little time off from blogging to focus on some other things without distraction. I've missed reading many of my favourite blogs during this time too. It's time to catch up.

I'd posted earlier in February (see here) that I'd put a couple of avocado seeds in water to get them to grow into plants. Here is an update on them, four months later.

When I first put the seeds in water, I didn't have much hope that they would sprout. I'd done this many times before, with no results.

This time again, the seeds sat suspended in water by the windows, while I patiently watched their apparent inactive state, all the while hoping something was happening inside. They had the full benefit of morning sunlight, though they were sheltered from its intensity indoors.

Some time later, their bottoms cracked open and slowly split apart, allowing a root to peep through. These roots rapidly grew longer and I checked their progress daily.

Soon the entire seed cracked open from one side, allowing me a glimpse of the seed within, and the shoot that was beginning to emerge as well.

How was it that both my seeds sprouted this time, while I had failed on all previous attempts?? Probably because I had a secret helper, assisting me all this time in his own quiet way.

Shadow likes slimy rainwater - this we know. But it seems like he has a taste for avocado flavored water as well! He came in every day to take a few licks from this water, which might just have been my magic ingredient! Here he is - caught in the act.

After some time, I decided to move the seedlings to pots, and took them outside to plant them. Shadow watched me doing this, and came over for one final drink of avocado water.

And so it is that we now have two happy avocado plants (in the white pots) that are growing rapidly. They grow to be large trees, and I don't know what I will do with them when they grow larger. For now, this experiment has been very successful, thanks to my little helper.