As I flew over my native Iowa recently, I looked down at a brownish patchwork of perfect squares, a land divided by straight lines and 90 degree angles. When European pioneers first came to Iowa, there were 14-16 inches of rich topsoil. Only 6-8 inches remained by 2000, and if nothing is done to stop this erosion, it’s estimated that Iowa’s topsoil will be gone in the next 100 years. Prior to 1850, Iowa was 85 percent prairie land. Today, less then 1/10 of 1 percent still exists.
Today, I read this hopeful post from Jnana.
As a child, we could listen to the grandfathers and uncles talk about the good old days and their friends on the farms they left behind. Those conversations have been lost but remain a part of my heritage, my shaping — I have renounced those things, but return with a sense of ambivalence, that something more is lost — that there is no direction or depth in the changes.
The prairie was endless for the Amerindian, who lived securely within its radiance of circles, rippling harmonies, its ecologies — man, four-legged brothers, and spirits. Then the white man broke this, with straight lines: plows and axes. Like a bottle, the endless prairie was broken; its essence oozed away, like a bleeding wound. In breaking the tall grassed prairie, the white man created a new one — a desert of desolate spaces he could not understand, replenish, or be replenished by…
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