See below for the latest dispatch from the “monopod” sitter named “Nutty.” Her comments about nature, and mankind’s impact on the natural world, are both highly relevant and moving. Check out what she has to say!
Today marks the start of Week 6, and the monopod in the Hellbender Autonomous Zone is still standing.
For most of those weeks now, the Forest Service and Mountain Valley Pipeline personnel camped below me — now in their two pop up tents and large dome tent — have been my closest (human) neighbors. Every day I am grateful that they are not my only ones.
Atop the monopod, I have been able to watch (from a closer and more intimate standpoint than ever before) how tight brown buds produce supple green leaves of black birch, tulip poplar, red maple, red oak, and more. It’s hard to tell sometimes which trees fall within the blue and white limit-of-destruction stakes on either side of the road; I often wonder how many of them will live to see another spring.
In their branches, and calling out from the surrounding woods and sky, the birds are always here with me: chickadees, tufted titmice, blue jays, ovenbirds, red-eyed vireos, scarlet tanagers, downy woodpeckers, and black-throated green warblers, who often fly close enough for me to spot rather than just listen to. There are other species as well, which I hope I can ID as soon as I get a chance to listen to bird song CDs and look at a field guide.
There’s a whip-poor-will that sings so loud I can sometimes hear its call even over the noise of the generator the cops run all night to power the lights aimed towards the support camp.
Turkey vultures and bats frequently soar above me, and a pair of ravens (who we suspect nest higher on the mountain) come visit often.
I know the support camp has also spotted wild turkeys, a pileated woodpecker, hawks, and deer. I even heard a rumor of a bear cub sighting higher up the mountain.
These are only a very few of the beings impacted by the Mountain Valley Pipeline, by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and by all the processes of extraction and domination these pipelines are but a small part of.
We cannot escape the fact that we belong to a species that thoughtlessly slaughters others, that commits enormous massacres of global and local ecological scales as soon as profit or convenience justifies it.
Pipelines don’t only kill wild lives and damage remaining wild spaces, each fossil fuel infrastructure project is another step towards a future of vanishing nature. Another destructive obstacle to the forming of relationships with the other-than-human beings we share this planet with; another attack against the people and communities trying to protect them.
I am not only here because the pipeline threatens human lives, autonomy, and livelihoods — I’m here for them: the birds, the bushes and trees, the amphibians and arthropods.
I am here in memory of all who have already perished as a result of the corporate interests of this pipeline, at the hands of this devastating civilization, and for all the wild things who remain, still here!
Images: Bird species mentioned by Nutty; photos taken from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.
Listen to their songs!
• Black-throated green warbler: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/…/Black-throated_Green_Warbl…/
• Red-eyed vireo: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-eyed_Vireo/
• Whip-poor-will: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Whip-poor-will/
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