Tag Archives: ecology

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 23)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure – part 23

They started quietly running back to camp, but within seconds, Uncle Weed was tackling them into the sand.

“You maniacs,” he said, out of breath, “You scared me half way to death.” He turned around and started galloping back to the field as if nothing had happened. Then he turned around and told them to wait up.

“See that sign over there,” he said, “That’s why we’re doing this. That sign announces the building of a smooth new road that will wind right through here. The weird thing is, a strong, healthy gravel road goes the exact same places, it may take an hour longer, but it works just fine.”

“Some people feel that the land belongs to them only or to one group of people just because they have a piece of paper stamped by someone,” continued Uncle weed, searching for the best words, “This is alright sometimes, you need some sense of order, but often, people try to find personal gain by irresponsibly manipulating, damaging, or destroying the land when its not necessary.”

“Like stinky factories with thick orange stuff coming from the smokestacks, making it hard to breathe?” asked Bob.

“Or buildings big hotels in the middle of national parks?” Asked Otto, “Or dumping dangerous trash in the ocean?”

“Exactly!” said Uncle Weed, “Sometimes you have to help the rocks, plants and lizards out a bit, give the land back the Mother Nature. A lot of great women and men have been fighting for the planet for years and we can’t let their efforts die.”

He picked up a discarded survey stick, looking it over, “This is just a stick right? Or is it? To me this represents the beginning of the end. Once the people in some office somewhere decide on a project, the surveyors are the first ones to come in to measure and indicate what goes where. Where to cut, where to dig, what to pave and so on. The sticks themselves are not bad, and the surveyors are mostly well-intentioned, hardworking folks who just want to work in nature.”

“So why do you pull them up then?” The boys asked still a bit confused.

“You know, its hard to say. Part of me knows the project will probably get done at some point anyhow, but I also believe delaying the project is important. Maybe for a day, maybe for years – I know other people spend time calling their elected representatives, protesting with signs, maybe even running for office, but those activities don’t suit my temperament, so I just do my part to slow down the wheels of progress to let the suits in the offices know I’m paying attention to their decisions, and well… nature has allies too.”

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 22)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure - part 22

Uncle Weed’s song continued;

Some people say that we’re crazy
sick and all alone
we pull up your stakes
and roll on the ground
Ha ha hah ha…

Bob and Otto began tossing pebbles at the dancing man to startle him. But, all of a sudden, he vanished, completely disappeared in a flash.

“Where did he go? Dang, we must of spooked him,” said Bob.

“It was your idea you meathead! We better get back to camp before he discovers us,” said Otto.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 21)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure – part 21

“He looks like the lady in the Sound of Music,” laughed Bob and Otto perched up on a hill, watching as Uncle Weed danced around a field.

He was spinning and whirling and every few feet, he pulled a stick with orange tape on top out of the ground and tossed it far off into the darkness.

“What’s he doing?” the kids wondered. He looked goofy whatever he was doing so they laughed quietly some more.

As Uncle Weed came closer, the words became more clear:

Stealing survey stakes,
on a Friday night
stealing survey stakes,
by candlelight
you better not get caught
you’ll be thrown in an institution
they’ll give crazy shots
then a long conviction.
Someone’s got to do it
to prevent the mass destruction
of Earth’s private property
from wholesale degradation!

“Survey stakes! He’s yanking those wooden things, you know, the ones with the orange on top!” said Bob.

“What’s wrong with those? Are they dumb? Is this something to do with the concrete dam and waving neon cowboy ya think?” asked Otto.

“I guess, we should ask.” answered Bob curiously, “There must be an explanation.”

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 20)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure – part 20

Awhile later, a voice singing off in the distance woke Otto up. “Bob, Bob, hey wake up,” he said, nudging his pal.

Bob heard it too. They looked around and noticed Uncle Weed wasn’t in his sleeping bag or anywhere to be seen. “Should we go find him and see what he’s doing?” Bob wondered.

“No, he’s probably just throwing a whiz or something,” Otto answered.

“Not for that long, c’mon, let’s go find him. We’ll surprise him.”

They could barely make out the words of the song but it was loud enough to find him easily. Uncle Weed was just over a few slickrock hills and through a few dry stream washes.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 19)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure - part 19

It was one of those nights where the air is warm yet crisp. The moon was fat and full and made everything radiate. The prickly pears, scrub oak, pinyons, junipers, little flowers on hardy plants cast long, sharp shadows against the deep orange slickrock. The desert sounds of scurrying feet, rustling breeze, and creatures calling out bounced around the canyons. It made everything seem comfortable, alive, and content.

It was a good night, a good night for just about anything.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 18)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure - part 18

“Well that’s lame!” the boys exclaimed, “If they did that, why don’t we go down and torch the waving cowboy! Yeah! And throw rocks at the buildings and tear down the dam!” Bob and Otto were excited by the story if still a little bit confused.

“Well boys, direct action speaks louder than words!” shouted Uncle Weed.

“Like your bumper sticker says, ‘Talk minus action equals nothin’, Right?!” yelled Otto and Bob .

Then, all of a sudden, Uncle Weed hollered, “Who wants wedgies?” Bob and Otto ran for cover as the crazy, bearded man chased after them, “Come here you little revolutionaries, this is camping tradition.”

He yanked Bob from his sleeping bag and climbed up a tree after Otto. After pulling their underwear clear up by their neck, they groaned, laughed, wrestled and went to bed.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 17)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure - part 17

“I wish we could, but it’s closed. closed for renovations,” Uncle Weed answered slowly.

“How can they close a river? You’re teasing again,” the boys stuttered in confusion.

“Well, I’ll tell more of the story. Shortly after we finished our adventure, a bunch of government types came and said, ‘Wow, sure is nice out here but all canyons look the same and there’s plenty of them anyhow. This one would be ideal for our purposes. Barely anyone comes here anyhow, we could probably score us high-paying office jobs, heck maybe even some medals, for improving and developing this place.’”

Uncle Weed continued, “So they built a huge concrete plug of a hydro-electric dam, proudly proclaiming it ‘One of the biggest in the world’ without any acknowledgement of the nature and history they covered up, the evidence of ancient civilizations were just flooded over without so much as a eulogy.”

“They went on to build a matching visitor’s center, highways and byways, hotels, marinas, liquor stores, bridges, convenience stores, government offices, fast food chains, trailer parks, and eventually, a whole town. They called it a National Recreation Area and received their shiny medals and increases in their pay packets I suppose.”

He continued, rather excitedly, “But I call it a National Recreation Slum, a filthy, bathtub playground for the inconsiderate and wealthy to play with expensive, polluting toys.”

Standing up now, he continued, “These politicians felt it was more important to create electricity to light giant clowns and waving cowboys in Las Vegas and keep the malls in Phoenix air-conditioned then it is to preserve a natural wonder filled with life and history. All in the name of progress, ‘can’t let technology pass you by, it ain’t worth anything unless it shows a profit,’ they said, so they abused it until it did.

“Now, bus-loads of people go down and gaze with wonder at this glorious piece of cement and steel, buy postcards and motor on to their next stop. I don’t know about you guys, but I find it hard to love concrete.”

 

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 16)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure - part 16

“There I was, just a kid, out there digging the scenery, while all the other kids went to some silly amusement park. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I learned the importance of noticing every detail possible, to remember the majesty of the Earth, and respect all living things. There’s so much to see and experience, but people don’t notice or even take the time to look and, when they do, it’s going by through the window of a car.”

It almost looked like Uncle Weed was crying, not exactly, but sort of leaking around the eyes.

“Well, all the more space for us to roam ‘eh?’ He choked out in a whisper.

“Is that where we’re going tomorrow or something?” The boys figured anyplace that got Uncle Weed this emotional had to quite amazing.

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 15)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure - part 15

“Don’t say anything yet you two! This journey was amazing. Anyway, every night, whenever we felt like it, we pulled up to a sandy shore or rocky beach up a side canyon and threw our sleeping bags on the ground. My Dad would cook up a pot of grub, he used plants, roots, berries, whatever he could find around. Your Grandpa’s real good at that sort of thing you know—cooking and all.”

“Then,” Uncle Weed continued, “We would lie around the fire and tell about what we had seen, heard, touched, smelled, tasted and thought that day. Sort of like what we’re doing here. You might think that after a couple of weeks, you would run out of things to say, but you wouldn’t. Those two weeks could’ve been a thousand and you’d still want more.

Every time you would find a perfect view, you would turn around and find one twice as stunning. Then you would turn your head again and find something more breathtaking still.”

Uncle Weed’s Redrock Adventure – a storybook (part 14)

Uncle Weed's Redrock Adventure - part 14

“What, you didn’t like that one?” Uncle Weed teased. “Well, here’s a good one, an important one in fact.”

Uncle Weed sat up to tell the story better and collect his thoughts. “Back when I was about your age, I think I was eleven, I went with my Dad on a trip to a place not too far away from here. Our friend Ed and his daughter, who was about my age, came along as well.

Before we left the city, we bought an old rubber dinghy at an Army-Navy surplus store and took just a couple bags of gear and the clothes on our back then pushed off a sandy bank into a beautiful, vibrant river. We floated down this cascading river for about two weeks.”

“Two weeks in a boat with a girl and the same clothes! Gross!” The boys squealed.