Mark Dowie On Conservation Refugees
I do think conservationists are starting to realize that any land worth conserving — because the biological diversity is high, the soil is fertile, and the original endemic species are still there — exists only because native human populations have been good stewards of it. The trick is to preserve the land and leave the stewards there.
Five minutes into the first therapy session of my life, and I’m already agitated that I won’t have time to tell this therapist what he needs to know about me — or, worse, that I will have time to tell him, and he still won’t get it. I explain again that I’m not looking for someone who’ll give me pep talks to build my self-esteem or offer behavior-modification exercises.
I remember clearly my grandmother’s eyes on the day she became trapped between a world of knowing and a world of confusion. She was sitting at the dining-room table in my mother’s house. My three children were poised above coloring books and other art supplies like tiny soldiers, following the orders of the day.
When I was sixteen, I worked at an all-you-can-eat buffet as the roast-beef carver. The restaurant manager taught me how to use a sharpening steel to give my carving knife a razor’s edge. I held the metal rod at an angle and then brought the knife down and across it. The blade sang as it came off. After a few strokes on one side, I would hone the other.
Early one morning several teachers and staffers at a Connecticut grade school were in a meeting. The meeting had been underway for about five minutes when they heard a chilling sound in the hallway. (We heard pop-pop-pop, said one of the staffers later.)
Her face registers that frightful blankness I’ve come to know too well during her slow descent into dementia. For her, is it winter? Is it yesterday? Is it now? “I was following these flowers,” she says. “Somebody’s planted them all along this road. See?”