Friday, May 30, 2008
Sometimes you don't know how much you love something, until you see it threatened.
Last night I stopped an ATV, and a dirt bike, and the riders of such, with my bare hands. I just stood in the path as they came bombing down the hill. I didn't think, I didn't plan. I'm sure if I had, I would have wisely stepped aside. But this was my beloved Hollidge Tract under attack and I couldn't stand to let it go. I've seen what these things can do to wildlife habitat in a local field. They tear the earth apart in a single pass, and the scars they leave on the landscape take years, if not decades, to heal. They destroy habitat in a single afternoon, they travel in packs, they are loud and they smell bad. Once they establish themselves in an area, they are impossible to extirpate, as they are relentless in their pursuit of banal pleasure.
Hollidge Tract is conservation land and motorized vehicles of any kind are forbidden. Even as we heard them, we had the dogs running loose, and my husband sent a frisbee sailing through the trees thinking they were passing down a nearby road. It was only when I saw them, coming down the hill, that I realized their trespass was upon us. And then I acted, without thinking, blocking the path with my body, miming 'slow down' and my husband was right beside me. Wordless, we acted in tandem. Nothing needed discussion, we acted as one; the product of a twenty year (almost) marriage.
I'd love to tell you that they turned tail and left, but that is not the truth. We told them, loudly (it's impossible to argue quietly in the presence of these machines) "Stop! Go back. Leave now!" They argued back. They refused to turn about. Tempers flared, we argued more, stubborn in our posturing, while the machines growled gasoline and their riders faces turned hard and red. The ending was pure Hollywood (and you think they make this stuff up!). A shirtless dude came sauntering down the same hill, complete with Eastwood swagger, cell-phone in hand. "Hey, get out of here. You can't ride here." Finally, sufficiently out-numbered, they turned tail and ran, but not without digging up donuts of earth with their tires.
It was only later that I had the time to think about what had happened. That I'd been goaded to action without conscious control. I hadn't thought it through, and if I had, I surely would have stepped aside. So I don't know if I was brave or stupid, just pure reaction while my brain went on holiday.
Today, the scars of their passing remain. Evidence left behind as slashes of black earth, torn up grasses and broken flowers. This makes me sad.
Image: green, brown & white paper, with coloured pencil & graphite, collage, paper cut-out, photographed and digitally coloured