Saturday, October 9, 2010

Golfing in the Desert

The earth owns itself.

What a strange concept, eh? It's very similar to the notion that An animal owns itself (the idea that PETA tries, in its regrettably bullheaded way, to get across--and an idea that is so logically, morally, and intellectually unimpeachable that the greatest difficulty I have now in life may well be trying to wrap my brain around how a single human, much less most of us, can hold beliefs like "animals are ours to wear" or "animals are ours to torture to death with chemicals" or "animals are ours to cage so we can look at them").

Add now to the list, though a bit farther down in immediacy, the difficulty in comprehending what's up with building golf courses, not to mention spas, luxury condos, and vast retirement communities, in the desert.

That bizarre concept--the voiceless earth has a right to speak--came into my mind as I was driving north in the Arizona desert recently (yes, in a car, with my closest relatives in it with me, only weeks after I had been in Arizona on a motorcycle, gloriously free of the compunction to order a Bellini at poolside). We were driving back to lie down and nurse the aftereffects of a grand dinner that included a bottle of champagne, and lobster--the latter not ordered by me, I'll have you know, since I also have a tough time getting the logic of putting a living creature into boiling water. It was the most lavish meal I'd had in years, in honor of my mother's eightieth birthday, and we were en route to the most lavish resort I've ever been in, an almost sickening spread of lush villas and a spa and, of course, the grotesque indulgence of golf greens made to grow from desert sand amid the saguaros.

Yet there are javelinas out there still, in the night . . .

(I longed to see one, but restrained myself from leaving tortilla chips out on the back patio so I might have a sighting. A fed wild animal is a dead wild animal. And I'm really, really sorry for feeding that chipmunk at the Grand Canyon, but he raised his hands in supplication and told me he was starving. Truly.)

"Someone bought this land, when it was boulders and space," my sister wonderingly said.

"Bought it from whom? Who 'owned' it?" I asked. Stolen from the Indians, who never dreamed of a thing called ownership. Strange concept, made up from whole cloth, I am beginning to suspect.

And that's when I thought it. The earth owns itself already, so it can't be owned by us. How then did the idea get flipped over on its back, so now it waves its four legs helplessly, scrabbling at the air? "We own it all." So that it, like all our animal brethren in the world, can be bought, sold, killed, or played golf upon.

Strange concepts indeed. I'm taking an aspirin and going to bed.


Kent said...

I don't watch much television (and I snobbishly squinted my eyes and arched my neck as I wrote that), but a really good show was the "Life After People" documentary. Once we aren't around to mess with it, the earth needs relatively little time to reclaim itself.

Good wrap-up, Melissa. Think about how much less we could accomplish in this world (and less is probably more, in many instances) if we would just all take an aspirin and go to bed.

Great read! So glad I found your blog!

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

It's a calming thought, isn't it, the idea that if we all "left town," as it were, the earth would reclaim itself. And I know it would: just wander the woods long enough to find the remnants of settlements, even relatively recent ones, and see how faint the traces. The trees grow more powerful by the day, the week.

But it's not calming to think what it would take for us all to pack up and go. Besides, I am not such a misanthrope as I seem. There are one or two people I really, really like.

Thank you, Kent, very much.

Pedro Jon├ęs said...

I saw two stay dogs yesterday. In saying that I'm begging the question you questioned; stray from what? One of them had an injured leg that he wouldn't let touch the ground. They were wary of me, changed their course, wouldn't let me get close.

They wandered away and I considered the ethics of me calling the dog man to have them arrested and incarcerated, and possibly put to death. My doing what would help them the most? I dunno.

How come wild animals have to be left alone but domesticated animals have to be held captive? Personally, I'd rather be a free injured dog than an imprisoned heathy one. In Kayenta, Arizona dogs who run free are not criminals for running free.

I saw two dogs running free yesterday. They were on an adventure. I cheer for them.

I hope one day to see a wild cow, a Jersey in splendid black and white. I'll spy her hiding in the forest, shielded by a blind of rhododendron, a big black eye watching me from behind the pink beds. I will cheer for her adventure.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Senor Jones, you too are on an adventure. You too have eluded the men with nets, the life in a cage.

Two things to do next time, however: get a degree as a veterinarian; and carry treats in your pockets always, so that you may crouch down, look away, and then extend your hand with the treat. That way you can capture the adventurer, fix his leg, and release him to continue his journey.

This is the right thing to do.