Brain Dropping # 30

Brain Dropping #30

      A sense of place.  Wendell Berry, the poet and environmental activist, was asked what should a person do to counter the despoiliation of the environment.  Berry said: “Find a spot,and begin the thousand year process of knowing it.”  He was talking about rootedness – the commitment to place and community which has all but disappeared in our restless, mobile culture.  Watching travelers on the interstate in their RVs, towing the family car behind, motoring to some vacation spot at six miles per gallon, I wonder if they have looked in their own backyard for a place of repose. 
The computer has expanded our individual universe beyond our sensory ability to grasp or comprehend it.  The macro-electronic pulsation is in tension with the micro aspects of our daily lives..  Virtual reality has become our reality.  I’ve become more aware of this tension since I retired from teaching art in the public schools and had too much time to kill.  There’s nothing more seductive than surfing the internet when time weighs heavily on your hands.  Just sitting and doing nothing and watching clouds scudding by overhead is a difficult option when you know that Bill Maher or Amy Goodman is at your finger tips.

    Yesterday, after spending a couple of hours weeding the garden, I plunked down in a lawn chair under an apple tree to rest my back.  Two or three Phoebes, who have nested on beams in my garage, were hunting insects.  Being too lazy to move despite the occasional attack of a deer fly,  I watched these remarkable flyers with the twitchy tails, in an acrobatic predatory campaign against black flies, mosquitoes and even cabbage white butterflies.  Using the stakes of the anti-deer electric fence circling my garden as observation posts, the Phoebes would swoop down in an elegant parabola and,at its nadir,capture the bug and carry it off to an apple tree limb above my head.  Step 0ne of the “thousand year process.”

Al Salzman



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