Land in the Sky: Without Us

Early-EveningEarly evening, Catskill Mountains of New York. I sit on the front deck and sip from a glass of wine, enjoying a fine spell of June weather. The trees are robust and green. In one of them a dove is cooing. Chipmunks scamper along a nearby stone wall. It was built by a farmer who died long before I or my parents were born. The stones have lichens on them. Just down the hill, the collie puppy is digging up the eggplant seedlings I put in last week. He enjoys shaking off the earth from their roots. Then he chews on them. The seedlings weren’t doing well in that ground and wouldn’t have made it anyway.

I look again to the trees robust and green. Many of them are white ashes. For more than a decade, an invasive, emerald-hued pest has been making its way east from Michigan. It arrived there in a shipping container from Asia and has been killing ash trees by the millions ever since. It’s not far away now. It may even be here. These white ashes will be gone soon enough. The Catskill hemlocks are already succumbing to another pest.

This fine spell of June weather won’t last either. I take another sip of wine. Where would enjoyment be without us?