The other day, someone decapitated my hosta plants with the
weed eater. My husband pointed the
finger at Squints; Squints blamed my husband.
Today, in order to save what remained of the plants, I decide to expand
the flowerbed in which they were planted, digging out six inches or so to allow
the mower to pass by and leave my plants unscathed. I go to my compost pile, full of worms and
broken down fruits and vegetables, and incorporate a few gallons into the soil.
Squints comes out and begins mowing the lawn. I stand back and admire my work and move on to
my tiny vegetable garden, sowing seeds into the soil: lettuce, cucumbers and Trail of Tears black beans, so-named because
the seed line was carried on the trail by the Cherokee. I pause for a moment thinking of the memories
contained within those seeds.
The air cools. I head
inside. I have another project.
I’ve had a set of old sheets hanging around. And in my effort to be kinder to the
environment, I’ve begun converting these sheets to cloth napkins. This is a good project for me, a poor
seamstress: It requires no measuring. My
seams need not be straight. There are no
pins. There are no pattern pieces to
match. In fact, every napkin comes up
unique, with its own jaunty personality.
My husband comes home.
I give him a tour of the gardens, pointing out the hosta, the black
beans, the strawberries blossoming.
Inside, I hold up a napkin. I am
proud of my efforts.
This morning, I turn on my computer and am reminded that a
former high-level Monsanto employee now works for the FDA. I learned about it a few years ago.
I did nothing.
In 2005, fracking was exempted from the Clean Water
I did nothing.
Millions of gallons of Pennsylvania fracking wastewater have
been shipped to Ohio, to be pumped underground.
I did nothing.
And in a battle over rights and power and money, the state
of Pennsylvania recently put Act 13 into law, giving the state—not its local
communities—the final say regarding fracking.
Not only do the local municipalities lose power under Act 13, so may physicians,
some of whom are treating patients whose illnesses they suspect are related to
fracking. While Act 13 does allow
physicians access to the list of chemicals used in the fracking process, those
doctors must first sign a confidentiality agreement, possibly preventing them from
sharing information with fellow doctors, patients and researchers. Also included in Act 13 is an impact fee,
which is estimated to generate over 200 million dollars in this year
alone. Where will that money go?
I do not know.
Business and government have cozied up together for far too
long. And for too long I have been
comfortable in my belief that once I’ve cast my vote, once I’ve got that
sticker: I voted today, my job is
done. But voting is no longer enough.
It never was.
This month, the implementation of Act 13 was temporarily
suspended by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, giving local communities
120 days to challenge it.
Suddenly, my cloth napkins; my backyard compost; my Trail of
Tears black beans seem silly. They seem not
enough; a token gesture where something much larger is needed.
Because water has memory, too.
Labels: Creative non-fiction, Environmentalism, Fracking