This summer, I drove across North America from Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron, through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, then Kansas, and finally to Denver, Colorado. The morning we left the island there was this beautiful fog gently laying over the land. The rolled hay bales sitting quietly on the freshly mowed field felt so familiar and sad to leave. I was thinking about my my own connection to this land. Then I thought about the history of this island and how this was originally all First Nation’s land, it was even guaranteed by treaty in 1836. Like an echo all over North America, the familiar story of cultural genocide is woven through the dealings of the past, a treaty broken and land further fractured. It made me think, how different the land must look now…how the forests have been cut, glacial rocks removed, to make land available for ranching and growing the hay to feed the cattle for a small slice of our beef and dairy consumption. It occurred to me how the land is sculpted like a piece of clay depending on what we, as a society, demand.
My little family and I followed the roads, highways, and interstates that eventually took us west, yet another way that we have sculpted and fractured the land through infrastructure for transportation. Then, in Kansas I drove past the vast amounts of genetically modified cornfields and noticed the oil well planted right in the middle of all that corn, both the oil and corn requisites, again, for our beef demand. In the far distance there were flocks of windmills. If I step away from judgements about whether or not we should be eating meat, or how we should be getting our energy, or our use of plastics (derived from oil)...Just pause for a moment to look at the land, what kind of natural and wild beauty are we leaving for the coming generations? Is it possible to shift our demand for beef, for plastics, for oil? How would shifting our demand sculpt these spaces differently in the future? What would that mean for our everyday habits like grabbing a quick burger, using Ziploc bags, or driving across the country? What kinds of modifications could we be inspired to make that would create the spaces we dream of leaving to our children and their children and their children and their children and on and on..,