Genius Loci

The spirit of the land is calling out, I think, as the reports keep coming in from different corners and devotees. The ancestors reach forward, hold us in an ancient embrace, and whisper of the paths we could travel to survive the tangled webs, threads sticky and dewy with corrupt ideology. The sinews of the snake draped over the canvas of our modern society, perhaps, just as dangerous as its fanged venom.

Florida is calling to its people. Flocks of birds and insects spell out dire portents and welcome messages to those paying attention. Those reading the signs with the naked eye and open mind after exhaustive measurements of ecological metrics. The danger is there, sure, but who isn’t thrilled by the promise of rebirth–the possibility of reincarnating a new vision of man+nature sans greed.

We look out at our landscapes and see parched grasses in the winter heat, slash pines bristling, live oaks carrying a full load of leaves and bitter fruit. We might spot the wildlife, too, beyond the cars rushing by, the electric wires. It tells a story, we tell another, then twist in night sweats over impending doom and ecological collapse. The grass remembers better than us, wilting under the scorching sunlight, the sprinkle of soothing rain rushing toward the sea, lashed by high pressure winds like drivers to a chariot. The grass says, “We weave the basket-dream together, we each become a thread in complex tapestries.”

We call it democracy, but forget the demos- has always been populated by others. Plant people and tigers and cranes, insect people dying invisibly in the underbrush–mosquito pesticides save lives!

Perhaps we lost the logos, then, that wrote the spirit of nature into the book of civilization. We packaged it with demonic imps, consigned to our deepest fears and worst desires, and prayed the Devil away along with every ounce of empathy. Now the stark cross lies empty ’bout the neck, gleaming lifeless metal, demanding our blood in sacrifice while it binges on the rest.

Perhaps “In God We Trust” but it is greenbacks we pray to–an new ecology independent of the nature-dreams that swarm the world. A market driven by human impulse and free of logic, compulsively stripping away valuable soul food in favor of its material comfort. A horde of big men thumping their big sticks to the rhythm of their gentle songs, broadcast on the airwaves. They weave a dream, as well, and it is backed by restless momentum.

I know this: Ourkind is fruitful so long as its thirst is quenched, but brutal when it perceives scarcity ahead. While we lead our dreams of bounty, while the cloth is pulled over our eyes and we’re stumbling blind through a graveyard planet, we will be pacified. But every garden ends–in spring or winter–and one day we will hit the walls at perilous speed. After the shock wears off, we’ll see the world again and the law of nature will drip like bloody teeth and claws.

The spirit of the land is calling, I think, and the ancestors reach out for one more comforting embrace. We honor them by listening, learning, and reaching back to them. Then spring forward, boundless, and secure the future!

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