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home : insight & opinion : guest columns October 13, 2015

7/10/2014 1:33:00 PM
Even 'constant gardeners' can't fix everything
For the Daily News

As I write this, the week of the Fourth. it is a bright, clear, beautiful morning and I revel in its glory. The carnival is in town now, the grandchildren squeal from the pool and all is right with the world.

Well, almost all. I ponder whether it is worth worrying about that across town on a piece of yard I tend, there are new marks defacing what I once saw as a nicely green lawn. Moles have invaded. I don't know if they parachuted in under the cover of darkness or came in with other immigrants unnoticed, but they are there, doing their work, just beneath the surface.

It is irritating. I know it will be years now, if ever, before the dead trails that scar the landscape showing where their tunnels have been will fade. I don't know how long it takes for them to disappear altogether because I can still see old evidence, here and there, of where they used to be in seasons past.

Nature can have its irritations and its imperfections. Several seasons ago we had a very bad drought here, and in my woods it damaged the trees at their base. The bark split open on some, exposing them to insect damage, and the mystical magical processes that let 70 feet of sycamore suck water from its roots to its top branches was disturbed. A wound had been suffered that began to work its damage, and sometime since I last walked thorough that part of the wood, the massive tree went down. I really liked that tree and its mottled smooth white bark that wore a pattern of pinto splotches here and there.

As we live right next to the wood and I am home most of the time, I would have thought I would have heard the crash when it went down. It was a big loss. There is a hole in the canopy now that used to be a full cover of green from one side to the other. There were also a number of bystander casualties that were brought down by the dead weight of the falling giant.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there does it make a sound? I wasn't there to hear it, so I'll have to say no. Does it leave a mark? Yes, and a big one that foretells a change in things for the foreseeable future.

There are new terrorists in the Middle East now. We did not see them coming but we can see them now. They scar the land with their destruction and move blindly toward an uncertain future. They are real, even though we can't see them from here, and they are hard at work beneath the surface of what we and the Iraqis and our allies had made for them. We are not constant gardeners, however, we are meddlers in someone else's garden, and it has gone bad. We feel the urge to help them, not just for themselves but because we don't like the way it looks, even if we can't see it out or window. It makes us look bad.

This will leave a mark, we know that, and we sigh. On such a beautiful day, with the sun shining so brightly and the sky so blue and clear, is it necessary to have such things going on?

Since I began writing this, we have celebrated Independence Day and told ourselves we are a force for good in the world and want only peace for everyone. Is that possible? Or should I collect my grandchildren now that the pool is closing and the sun is setting and go and get some mole traps and cover all the trails with them and kill the little destroyers where they work until I get them all, every one, and do it so well and so thoroughly that they will never come back, no and none of their kind either? Is that even possible?

Happy birthday, America.

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