I drove north and east from Thunder Bay, across the rest of Ontario, 500 miles, before stopping for the night just short of the Quebec border. It was a long road; the cat and I were tired. Driving from Winnipeg the other day he sat in my lap and in the back watching things go by but today he hid and, by the end, we were both desperate for a little more space and to stop the motion – 10 hours was enough.
I pulled onto a logging road with a sign that said “24 Hour log haul in progress”. Though I don’t see what progress there is in clear cutting. I tucked in next to a skidder with the intent of staying out of the way, popped up, and moved in for the night. The high for the day: -14ºF (-26ºC).
The sky was dark and the stars were fabulous. There was a little bit of moon, not the intense, dark-sky stars but still a beautiful showing. The snow was crunchy underfoot and the hairs in my nose froze. That always tells me how cold it is.
I awoke at 2am, suddenly and for no apparent reason. I went out into the night to pee, enjoy the stars, and appreciate the cozy nest of my camper, heater, and bed. It took me a while to settle again. I had the blankets over my head, the tip of my nose sticking out just enough to breathe the cold air, when I heard this loud, rumbling, Whoooosh. Then silence. It confused me. My head was awake enough to know this was not a sound I had heard before; it raced to compartmentalize it. Plane? No. Truck? No. UFO? Yeah, right. Then I realized the 24-hour log haul had begun. The deep snow and the thick forest surrounding me engulfed the sound of the trucks until they were just even with me and then swallowed them and their noise whole again as they sped past. For the rest of the night every 20-30 minutes another truck went by.
Coming across Ontario is a study in lakes and spruce bogs. The Canadian Shield that is the bedrock of the province does not allow much to pass through or grow up. The towns are discreet with a start and an end and a few random houses and gas stations scattered throughout. Slowly as you move east the forest becomes more dense and more determined in its growth. With this, of course, comes an increase in logging activity and the clear cuts become more noticeable along the road.
In my mind, we are slowly dismantling the earth. We consume resources far beyond their capacity to regenerate – and not all resources can or do regenerate. Even those of us who regularly ground ourselves in the wild are not always connected to our actions.
Is buying organic and remembering your reusable grocery bag enough? Is buying a more gas efficient car enough? How many devices are plugged in? How many plugs are plugged in but not actually connected to anything? What materials do we choose for our clothing? Is there lawn to mow?
This disconnect is not new. We have willful blindness toward the things that we want even if they don’t fit our idea of what is sound. I drive across the country with my home on my truck and my gas mileage dipping into the range of a 1970s F250. Still, I drive on.
What will change this consumption? An increasing number of endangered and extinct species has not convinced us. Super storms, drought, and record heat have not convinced us.
The 24-hour log haul continues. For how long?
Last one out please turn off the lights.