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October 30, 2009

Hawthorn Hill: Try conservation over consumption

It would be nice to forget about the world while walking back country roads.

Some days it is more possible than others. Today was a particularly beautiful day. There is a bank of oak trees set against a nearby hillside whose burnt orange leaves remind me of these opening lines in John Keats's poem Endymion: ``A thing of beauty is a joy fore ever:/Its loveliness increases; it will never/ Pass into nothingness.’’ Of course, the leaves will eventually fall to the ground, leaving the branches bare until next spring.

But I think what Keats means is that the tree’s loss is our gain. The image remains in memory and can never be erased. In fact, it gains in beauty and significance over time. It will be helped by the few acorns that I picked up, slipped into my jacket pocket, and which now sit atop my study windowsill.

As I sauntered down the road a red-tailed hawk soared in ever widening concentric circles above me and I was reminded again of the infinite array of wonders this beautiful earth offers up to us, no questions asked.

Unfortunately, an insistent voice inside that I could not quell started listing some of the more unpleasant indignities against the planet that our species has managed to commit. The worst part of it is that we seem hell bent on doing these things despite incontrovertible evidence that clearly points out the inescapable consequences of our actions. But that should not be much of a surprise, since consequences have never seemed to matter much when it comes to sating our thirst for more and more things.

The debate over natural gas drilling is a case in point. Most of the discussion surrounding this volatile issue focuses on the process. How can it be done safely? How can we protect our wells, aquifers, lakes, and streams from chemical pollution? What safeguards can be put in place to safeguard the public’s health and well being?

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