All Shall Be Well Again


Just one mutilated tree stump…


Destructive behavior seems to have become a socially accepted “American Way” for many people in this country. Up the road from me I have a retired neighbor who exemplifies this attitude. When the couple first moved here he built a bridge over my brook with trees that he cut from my land without my permission… and that was just the beginning. There were other misunderstandings that followed. Most occurred behind my back.


In 2012 I approached him hoping to make amends, offering peace if not friendship. I told him then that we shared a physical boundary and that it made sense to be civil to one another. According to him I had betrayed him “three times” – What? He sounded like he had been bewitched by a bad fairy tale. He rejected my offering, choosing outright hostility instead.


This winter while I was away this man and his wife used my property as their personal ski area, obviously, without my permission. This man also took the time to destroy a garden wall that sheltered a tree seedling. Fortunately, I caught these egregious actions on camera and am now in a position to press charges.


I am equally fortunate to have genuinely kind and helpful neighbors nearby. It has also been such a positive experience for me to spend winters in an area in New Mexico where next-door neighbors actually like each other! Here at home, I have come to accept the situation with unpleasant, untrustworthy neighbor as it is. And I have been educated by him…


This man taught me a lesson I wished I had learned much earlier in my life – namely that some people take great pleasure out of creating misery for others, particularly those they believe are vulnerable. It was hard for me to understand that these people need an enemy, someone they think they can torment. That their behavior had nothing to do with me personally and was all about them was not evident for many years because I kept trying to make peace.


Today I see this neighbor issue as a microcosm of a situation that has become rampant in this country and throughout the world. Human selfishness, dishonesty, and arrogance, the inability to form genuine relationships, the pervasive need for power over at any cost, the addictive need to exert that ‘bully’ power to deal with personal inadequacy, the need to have an enemy or create one that doesn’t exist has never been more apparent than it is today. It might be important to add that bullies are always cowards at heart.


The underbelly of the American Beast has been exposed and it is depressing to behold. It is not lost on me that like our pitiful excuse for a president it is people like my neighbor who get the attention…


A number of years ago this man began to take his powerlessness and pathological hatred out on trees. He owns what used to be a beautiful sloping mountain field bordered by evergreen woodlands. Initially, he allowed his white pines to flourish but eventually he began to destroy his trees from the top down, hacking off crowns, chopping side branches away until there was nothing left but bleeding stumps. Finally, he dragged the dying limbs to the road that also functions as my driveway (he continues this practice today). Then, bizarrely, he planted new “perfect” trees in more obvious places near the main road where they would be seen by the general public.


At first I was dumbstruck by this behavior; it seemed to make no sense. That it hurt and eventually (mercifully) killed the living beings we call trees was obvious. After witnessing such malevolent obliteration I reached the conclusion that this man’s mental health was in jeopardy. And, of course, to this day virtually anyone who drives down the driveway asks me what is going on with the “holocaust” next door. As if I had inside information. Now I simply reply, “the man is crazy” and let it go at that. If he only knew what people thought…


Long ago I made peace with the dying trees. They know that if I had the choice those magnificent Beings would have been left to live or chopped down mercifully… Today whenever I walk by the ugly stumps it brings to mind man’s inhumanity to man and the natural world as a whole and how weary Nature must be of man’s ongoing need to control and destroy the integrated living organism we call Earth. My revengeful neighbor is only one of those destroyers…It is always helpful to put a person’s actions in a larger context and I have done exactly that with this man.


I am filled with compassion for mutilated trees, animals, plants, and for people who are suffering or dying. I am also comforted because I know that Nature has begun the process of re-dressing the human induced imbalances with the first of her pandemics. S/he has been desperately attempting to get our attention as her trees are slaughtered and burned, her waters poisoned, her air and ground polluted, her animals and plants becoming extinct. Few have paid attention. We seem to have forgotten that Nature is reality. Life on this planet is 450 million years strong; humans have only been around for 200,000 years. Today our socially constructed “reality” is cracking and a great void looms above and below revealing that humans are more vulnerable than they ever imagined. It is a relief to know that in time Nature’s Way will prevail:


“All Shall Be Well Again.”