Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Why We Tamed the Wilderness

Adult_deer_tick.jpgAs I was walking our dog down a country road in Western Massachusetts this morning, I was thinking about how taming the wilderness is such a natural human impulse.
I’ve been unsettled by the disease-carrying deer ticks our dog keeps bringing into the country house, and I was longing for the seeming civility of Brooklyn again where the kids and I will return in 10 days. But at home, we’ve had sugar ants in the kitchen, mice fleetingly in the pantry, and a recent confined case of bed bugs (which I introduced by buying an antique mahogany bed off Craigslist). Quite a year for a chattering mom who loves Feng Shui, peace, and tranquility!
Why all the pests? I’ve been asking myself that. There seems to be no co-existing with these menaces.
So this morning, as I walked in the country, I pretended to be an early settler in the wilds of East Coast America, and I tuned in to how desperately the pilgrims must have desired to dominate and civilize the wild earth.
Who wouldn’t? In those days, if you didn’t try to contain nature, you ran the risk of seeing it kill you. Who wouldn’t quickly build four walls, good roads, reliable vehicles to carry you to faraway places? Who wouldn’t rape the planet, develop harsh chemicals, do whatever you’ve got to do over a series of generations, to keep your family healthy and safe?
Today, we’re being asked to get conscious of our relationship to nature. We are not superior to the earth, we are part of it, made of “the same hydrogen atoms,” says Sister Miriam McGillis, a nun and environmentalist who lives and teaches at Genesis Farm. In our well-intended effort to tame nature and capitalize on its goodness, we’ve corrupted it, done serious damage, taxed it in a way that will make it turn on us if we don’t stop.
In couples counseling, people often realize that they’ve turned what they initially loved about their partner into a character flaw they can’t abide anymore. You might fall in love with someone who seems optimistic and lighthearted, and then you realize you resent how carefree they are in stressful times, that they are, in fact, avoiding something.
So as I digressed from being a pilgrim, to having my own counseling session with Mother Nature on my walk this morning, I realized that what I most love about the country is ITS WILDNESS. I just adore it. But here I am battling against it, engaged in ongoing nontoxic combat with the black flies and deer ticks, putting a lot of energy into hating all pests, resisting the wildness of nature! Oh, this is too much, I was thinking today, I should just bring out the fricking DEET and be done with it. They should shoot all the deer out here to get rid of the deer ticks.
But it’s not in me to ever bring out the DEET, leaving it in my imagination as a last nuclear war resort. And of course, how awful the world would be without deer!
So now, I’m just sitting with all of this.
I guess, bigger than just a treatise on pests, this blog post is a modest lesson in one chattering mind’s suffering. Events, illness, change descend; they all invade our peace, but perhaps we can learn to preserve our wellbeing in spite of it all. Relation to spirit, a motivation to contemplate hidden meanings, an ability to find small spots of peace within, these practices might help us contend with life’s randomness and all the pests that come as part of the program.
Any thoughts, anyone? Pests (metaphoric or actual) got you down?

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posted July 6, 2007 at 3:52 pm

1:45 pm, Friday, July 6, 2007
All is good. I wish you peace from pests. I myself am at peace and I am content, as a direct result of discerning that there is a God in Heaven and only He can direct peace from chaos, and I am grateful.

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Janet Doty

posted July 7, 2007 at 11:11 am

What we think are pests have a job to do in the world of nature. I never kill bugs if they are outside. That is their world. However if they are inside, in the house they are not welcome. If I can pick them up safely and toss them outside I do. Spiders are not my favorite. I usually get the spray if they are bigger than a dot.

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Linda M Bemis

posted July 7, 2007 at 2:03 pm

We are part of the ecological system no matter what is done to the area. Some trees are saved. When the birds, plants and natural animals start disappearing, then wonder where they are supposed to be. No one seems to care about the deer and moose that travel at night here in Maine until a disaster with a car hits the news. There has to be a balance for everything. Survival was difficult for the pilgrims. Winter caused many to starve. There is only one difference. Machines and the stores make it easier.

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posted July 7, 2007 at 5:48 pm

a short story with a bit of info…..
When I was young, in North central Texas, and in Girl Scouts, we went on some camping excursions in the woods – mingling with the mosquitos,ticks, and snakes. We would put sulfur in powdered form (was a fine,yellow powder)in an old sock, tie up the neck really well while, at the same time, not packing the powder in too tightly. Holding the sock by the neck, hit it against our ankles, shoes, and socks – using it like a powder puff. We were told it would repell fleas and ticks, and must have worked because I never found one on me.
I believe powdered sulfur can be bought in feed stores, or maybe pet supplies – not sure since it’s been such a LONG time ago!

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posted July 8, 2007 at 11:59 pm

This is one of your finest posts. I love your vulnerability through out. Oh I don’t like the clothing moths that have been with me for 3 years no matter how hard I try to mske them disappear. But alas, they may have flown away for good.
I just hate mosquitos!

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Audry Hawkins

posted July 9, 2007 at 9:42 am

I have been living in S. Korea for the past year and the only bugs that are really annoying are the “mogis”. Mogis are mosquitoes. When they bite, the itch only last a few moments, but it is the buzzing in the ear that bugs me so. It makes me think about life. Usually the bite isn’t so bad, it is the buzzing of the drama that makes things worse than they are.

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Michael Flynn

posted July 23, 2007 at 4:56 pm

I like your story, My rules for nature I ask not to be bothered, a fine example of this there was a group of 65 Human Beings at a Peace Drumming next to a Stream and Wet Lands in South Bend Indiana, all those asked not to be bothered and during the 3 hrs not a BUG in sight, I let all others(insects, spiders, bees, etc} live in Peace and they do I. Michael

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