Artful Land Care

To Remember and Honor

In Peace & Justice on May 30, 2021 at 9:07 am

Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  As National Holidays go, you cannot argue against remembering those who died while serving in the United States Armed Services.  And we should not.

However, if we are going to honor the dead due to military service, then for those of us who live within US borders, we cannot and should not stop there.

Memorial Day was first birthed as Decoration Day.  Some say Decoration Day started from folk decorating the graves of people who served in the US Civil War.  This led General John A. Logan on May 5, 1868 to call for a national day of remembrance called “Decoration Day.”  In time, the name Memorial Day came into use and one hundred years after Logan’s call for Decoration Day, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (June 28, 1968) formally calling the last Monday of May Memorial Day.  All good and well.  Except when we allow another 1868 agreement to challenge us to remember all who die due to military service.

Only six days before Logan’s call for Decoration Day, the US signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie (April 29, 1868) in Dakota Territory with the Sioux bands: Brule, Ogallala, Minneconjou, Yanctonais (Spellings are as written in the Treaty), and the Arapahoes.  Establishing the Great Sioux Reservation.  A few events prior to the signing of the Treaty:  One week prior to signing the Emancipation Proclamation (December 26, `1862) President Lincoln orders the hanging of thirty-eight Dakota men in what is now Mankato, Minnesota—the largest mass execution in US history; Colonel John M. Chivington massacres more than 200 peaceful Cheyenne’s at Sand Creek, Colorado Territory.  

Redemptive Normal

In Reflections on March 28, 2021 at 9:20 am

“I can’t wait to get back to normal.”  Earnestly said.  We’ve all said it in one way or another this last year.  

Four of us stood in the pasture.  A late winter breeze caused each of us to raise our coat collar.  We’d gathered to talk about landscape practices, the need of land care, and our struggle to maintain sustainable space in a place surrounded by commodity-based farmers and ranchers.  The cold slid our hands into coat pockets and hunched us over a bit.

As the phrase blew past us in the mask breeze of six-feet, she said, “I have little interest in getting back to normal.”  With stocking caps and hoods pulled over our ears we searched the gray grass at our feet for “normal.”  We all knew what he meant: maskless gatherings; holiday dinners with family; sitting beside the bed of our sick and dying; laughing in community; crying in community, and we all knew what she meant: too much had happened in the last year; not enough had happened in the last year; yesterday’s normal bounds of inequity.

Twelfth Day

In Reflections on January 5, 2021 at 8:17 am

White breath emerged from our masks.  On the fifth morning of Christmas a friend stopped by to load a ton of hay for his horses and cattle.  As sunlight filtered through the overcast sky we warmed to the work.

Backed to the haystack, the pickup’s tailgate left just enough space to load the lower bales when the time came.  I pulled bales from the top of the stack while he restacked them in the trucks bed.  The hay stack lowered and the truck stack rose. From atop the truck stack he pulled bales as I lifted them up.  A breath cloud surrounded his face and shoulders as he heaved back.

We experience the world differently, him and I.  Socially and theologically our frameworks wrangle and sometime clash.  However, we agree maintaining conversation is important.  One place we differ is in the use of masks.  Though he thinks masks are a bit foolish in the country—a quarter mile from the next neighbor—he wears one because I wear one.

Over the years we’ve settled into dialogues once the truck is loaded.  Some, turn into ongoing conversations.  We’ve found than in our opposite ways of thinking, once in a while the other comes up with an idea, thought, or comment that would seem impossible to arrive at from our own way of experiencing the world.  Certainly, there are times when we endure the others viewpoint, but, more often than not, our banter is amusingly thought provoking.