Over the past six years, my opposition to the pipeline has been clear.
Public testimony, letters to the powers that be, defense of alternate routes, questioning the need, outrage at the spillage and government subsidies paid to Enbridge, delving into page after page of Environmental Impact documents. Sometimes anger, amazement at the clear audacity of a corporation, and moments of elation at victories. So much goes unsaid, as I ponder other heartfelt reasons. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul,” said John Muir.
The early morning mist enfolds the lake as the canoe slides gently from the shore. It is autumn and the only sound is that of the paddle as the canoe glides forward. Moving east through the mist, no birds trilling, perfect silence. Suddenly the mist dissipates, the lake glistens in the morning sun and distant golden tamaracks grace the bog, interspersed with lovely black spruce. An eagle approaches, momentarily swooping downward then lifting majestically toward the north. I sit quietly and reflect upon the beauty of this land.
Aldo Leopold had written about the “sense of place,” a powerful force. The north country of Minnesota is special. There is no place like it. Once you have known it, it lives within. The dark forests, life filtering wetlands, pristine lakes, rivers, abundant wildlife and bone-chilling winters. A place of space and beauty, the wildness is still here.
It was late summer, the lake calm, reflecting a magnificent sunset glow of violet, red, gold and pink. Isaac Walton, the guru of fly fishermen, wrote “Study to be Quiet.” As we cast, the only sounds were that of a plug hitting the water and gentle whine of the reel. The lake was deserted except for a pair of loons having taken ownership of the bay. There was the hush of a perfect evening on a northern lake. Suddenly the call of a single loon reverberated across the water, answered by a hauntingly lonely response. In an instant, the area came alive with loons calling from every direction, from nearby lakes a cacophony of sounds going on and on. It seemed primordial. Suddenly the “symphony” stopped as the sun sank low over the horizon. A hush, then silence. I recall the sense of awe I felt at the time, recapturing the wonder and mystery of lake country.
I have no doubt that you, dear reader, have had similar experiences. A slowing of life’s frantic pace, a sense of balance and well being. That is the immeasurable gift of this special place.
A pipeline through this pristine water-rich environment is too risky. The business of Enbridge is profit, nothing less. Remember that.
I think of those yet unborn and remain hopeful. The “sense of place” is within us all. Let us be vigilant and on the right side of history. Let us all consider what can be lost.