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Life as performance art

Life as performance art


By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

A letter to the editor in the Aug. 24 paper caught my attention. As I read about invasive plants and animals, I knew the writer was right.

My father was convinced anything he didn’t plant was a weed — to be eradicated by any and all means, chemical warfare not excluded.

I’d love to turn back the ecological clock a few decades to when a bit of crabgrass or an errant dandelion in the lawn was the proverbial big deal. Today, I take a quick look-see at the grounds and it is a full-bore invasion, encroachment and attack of a lot of green stuff that I know I didn’t plant.

There’s enough nightshade in some bushes to poison half the community: green vines knotting their way through the hydrangeas, thistles, assorted other grasses and things that are an absolute mystery to me.

A garden expert said I could either use herbicide now or just let God do the work for me in a few weeks when we have a killing frost. Madame, who isn’t keen on chemicals, would much prefer I help God out and do the work now.

As for the critters, a lot of the pricey seeds I put into the feeders are consumed by invaders. There are the English sparrows who are messy,  spilling out far more seeds than they eat, which just encourages the starlings to stalk across the lawn for a meal.

From what I have seen, everything else is more or less local, although I could do with fewer chipmunks and squirrels.

A century and a quarter ago The Commercial Record reported that no whitetail deer had been seen in the county for a decade; they should be considered extinct and never to be seen again.

Seriously? Deer haven’t invaded our gardens, but they are getting closer.

The other day when I was getting rid of some weeds I heard a small flock of Canada geese fly over. A century ago they were nearly extinct. Then a few pairs found a lake that was heated year-round by the water from the electric plant, and realized there were cornfields within a short flight away. They ate well, had a good place to live and multiplied.

That lake is still there, but no one goes swimming or onto the beach — not with some 60,000 geese leaving their calling cards everywhere. Let’s just say the lake has to be dredged often.

There aren’t easy answers to our efforts to live with nature. When the first pioneers moved into this area the skies were filled with billions of passenger pigeons. Their predecessors had probably been around for centuries, living quite well in old-growth oak trees. By 1914, the last of this huge flock was extinct.

Perhaps the best we can do to live and work with the ecological systems around us is do our best thinking and trust we’re not leaving too big a mess for the next generation to clean up.