Borrowing this title from our friend Matthew Fluharty and his blog* on all things backcountry, folklore and hand-to-hand connection. Matthew was there from the beginning with my Hurricane Irene postings on the Birdhouse, and the subsequent events and serious trials with some neighbors and individuals and even town officials in our community. Nowhere is it ever automatic harmony — harmony takes work, honing, consideration, communication, sincerity and sweat. Not always doing what you want to to do, but learning what is best to do.
For those following us along the ups & downs the past few years I trust most understand this isn't solely a personal grievance or hardship on our end. We've had definite trouble with the abuse from some people, but the exposure via the Birdhouse has been to showcase how a community can fail, where it needn't. Where individuals, who are otherwise abiding, can become difficult, cruel and a threat. Where town officials, who often know better, can be led down a gnarled pathway by peer pressure and prejudice. All of this leading to dire consequences. Many may give up, turn to anger, fester a grudge and heighten hostility, even gear up a witch hunt mentality, spread lies and inaccuracies, and it all contributes to a backcountry lush & greenery, clear springs & brooks, becoming no more than deadwood & mudholes.
Exposure is good in the long run. Exposure is sunlight. It's a rooster crowing. It's birdsong, grain of the wood, moonlight after too much darkness. It's nothing to be afraid of.
After Hurricane Irene we had three separate incidents with neighbors who all acted with abuse onto our land and to ourselves as landowners. It was entirely wrong on their part and in fact so wrong it startled us that people could be this wrong and not admit to their mistake. I have written enough about how some neighbors can admit to their mistake and own up, and they have; we have. So it's possible. But I'm convinced the backcountry is now in serious trouble by the lack of proper stewardship and decency on a personal level one to another. You can have all the cleanup jamborees and concentration on the environment and protecting plant life you want, but if people lose touch with the good manners one to another, which is the genesis of a healthy environment, it's all lost.
How you treat yourself, your neighbor, your possessions, your homestead, your animals, your attitude, your mind, all contributes to what will happen to our earth. Global warming to the environment is secondary and a direct contribution from the global warming between ourselves.
Grandma was right — "One bad egg can spoil the lot."
So you have a few ugly-minded neighbors wanting to spoil, they will spoil, and peer pressure and prejudice is just itching to get activated. In our case some bad neighbors, gummy already with grudges, got the ball rolling and unfortunately for the town spoke to an unqualified employee who passed along ugly mistruths, which only stormed the wrath of the ugly ones ten-fold. Qualified town officials should have jumped onto this repair immediately, but they didn't. In the meantime the fire spread within the community. The unqualified one was fired but so what. He was actually a likable fellow, our son's age and we knew him through years at the local school, but he shared damaging misinformation that he later admitted wasn't even about us but another couple, and by then the snowball hurdling downhill is bigger & bigger. No one is taking responsibility. We try individually, we try through lawmakers, we try through the town, we try with open letters, and we garner deep support from a world community, and cops that have to address broken laws, but nothing comes as it should and must from the heart of the countryside, right where we live, right where the problem is, right who the problem is with. And this is the problem. It isn't complicated. It's right before us. It is us.
Stay disciplined, work at it, don't lose faith, bypass anger, and results start to show. In the long run good people will show forth inch by inch, they do come. The law is a mighty paradox and not always lawful, not even close, but within it there are decent folk at work. Town officials always have a few deadbeats, it's a town after all, not a commonwealth and not a trained elective branch, it's a hodgepodge organic twist of fate made up of many who love their town and their homes and families and they're trying their best up against others who may be a mess and within a structure that wants to retain its pride. I'm sharing a letter below which shows some of that pride. After a few years of my wife and I tolerating some bad eggs in our neighborhood and the lies they spread, gained from a town official that our town finally had to admit existed. We're thankful the town came to their senses.
A year before that a Sheriff's department and court system leveled a judgment against another abusive neighboring family. Again, this isn't about loud music being played, or fussing with a border dispute; it's about abuse to private property and a way of life that wishes to abide quietly and together with a backwoods environment. It's about knowing a river system and woodlands and solace are there to be shared, one with another. None of the land is posted, and everyone is welcome, but welcomed in the spirit of respecting a serenity of what is naturally there, long before we got here. That should only take understanding, and wishing to communicate.
It isn't lost on us that every single thorny person hasn't communicated and refuses to; while every single person who has communicated has also helped moved things along.
Grandpa said, "A rolling stone gathers no moss."