One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothin’ can beat teamwork ~ Edward Abbey
Hey, people. A brief interruption to scheduled programming, and the ongoing/interminable Upstate Saga, so I can spit out a bit of rage before it burns a hole somewhere painful. I’ll have the next American chapter — a far happier affair — out in a couple of days. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to hug your favourite tree!
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A rash of environmental posters, cute and often hilarious, spread over the walls of one of the English rooms during the week — 2nd Years are doing Lesson 7, which bludgeons home the message that Global Warming is Bad in large part because “polar bears are losing their homes”:
But you don’t have to stroll too far — 10 minutes from my front door, 25 from school (closer to 90 for a student) — to observe that perhaps the message still has a way to go:
You’ll recall the double whammy of my getting back from America, already a tad down, jet-lagged and heat-struck and un-slept, to find that my beloved canine buddies had vanished and the hillside just up from their prison was undergoing some supercharged beautification.
Well, I’ve been back several times. This was another early view:
It was terrifying to see how fast a thickly wooded hillside could be transformed into an open wound.
I haven’t been back here long, but if there’s one thing the Men in Hardhats of Korea and their mighty saurian steeds are good at, it’s getting things done. I kept going back up the hill — just after dawn, just before dusk — this insane, panicky flood of hope in my chest as I neared the kennels.
No such luck. I kept on walking, a little slower. Each time it was unimaginably worse up there:
I wonder if those blokes in their Doosans and Hyundais made sweet, sincere little gems like this in their day too:
Or were they glober warming deniers like various other jackasses I could mention?
Yesterday I was back. It had been a few days. Every time I’ve been, there’s only been two machines parked on that increasingly Martian-looking slope. I predicted, apparently correctly, that a new road or bypass was going through, but it now looks like there’ll be some tunnelling involved as well:
I have to admit, it’s not without a guilty pang of admiration that I observe what a few men, appropriately equipped, can do in a few weeks to a few million years worth of rock and soil and vegetation. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but even after countless hours and many dozens of miles of tramping and trespassing on similar sites in the Jangyu area, I’m still blown away.
It’s impressive stuff, once the urge to puke or cry or get out the old monkeywrench wears off.
Nobody was around, no giant raptors in hardhats, no moving vehicles but the frequent cars flying up the road that would soon be taking a far more dramatic route up the valley.
I got out the cameras and began the best trespass in ages.
The freshly gouged earth made for uneasy walking. I soon slipped, face-planted and rose wiping red earth from the side of my long-suffering lens. Next time I’ll wear footwear with more traction.
A view down-valley towards my place. That multi–storey monstrosity with the arches is the local sauna (pronounced “sah-ooh-na”), or public baths. The creek is on the far side of the road. It’s been a dry Summer and it looks pitiful: blame global warming, the more articulate students often say:
They’ve been studying it in class:
Never seen a blue flag before. Red ones are preferred in this line of work:
Down below, the Tonka Toys waited for dawn and the return of the big kids to the sandpit:
But the big kids would be back earlier than expected. While I stood there, unsteadily, debating whether to climb higher to what remained of treeline, a flash of movement and someone was swinging up into one of the cabs. Uh-oh. Had I been seen? Surely. But being western gets you a long way sometimes.
I left my lookout post among the rubble…
..and scrambled down a gully that hadn’t been there a week ago, past a growing pile of great boulder marbles casually rolled into a neat pile, another of splintered trunks, roots and limbs, and onto the roadside.
Both machines had snarled back into consciousness, droning contentedly as they resumed what they loved best. I stood frozen, appalled and transfixed as they gnawed their way into the hill, the lower one dumping rubble higher up the slope for the other to swoop in and scoop out, swinging it over and into the gully I’d just come down.
It was an a seductive piece of choreography, a brontosaurian ballet. In their cabs, at once absorbed in their work and utterly relaxed, each driver held a cigarette between his lips while he worked his levers and those great steel jaws loomed and lunged, gouged and grabbed.
Behind me, across the road, a dumptruck came to life with a startling bark. It was probably best I got my arse outta there.
I was in grave danger of enjoying myself.
ALICE COOPER BAND: LONG WAY TO GO, LIVE, 1972:
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote