What we need is right here

Published 11:39 am Tuesday, April 21, 2020

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Conservation Corner

Betsy Burdett


It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and I’m having a lovely time reading a new book of short stories. In fact, I’d rather keep reading than stop to write this column. After all, most of us have been taught that Sunday is a day of rest and a rainy Sunday supports that belief perfectly. And, the “stay at home” directive has enabled us to have more quiet time to simply “be.” Time to reflect on what matters most to us and to our community, and what changes, and different choices, we might make in the future.

Life has definitely slowed down, and we are forced to look at how much ‘busy-ness’ has governed our choices and actions, yet not made us feel more ‘whole’. One hoped-for result of this pandemic catastrophe would be for us to take more responsibility for our own health, to eat more nutritious food and less junk food, to spend more time outside either gardening or simply walking in the woods, to teach our children and grandchildren about the wonders of nature, and to not be coerced by advertising to find fulfillment by purchasing the newest gadget. These past few weeks have shown us just how lucky we are to be able to share our greatest gift, which is the loving and generous community in which we live.

Now, let me get back to telling you about my new book. A Saluda author named Henry Mitchell has a new book called Early Dark. There was a short article in the Tryon Daily Bulletin several weeks ago telling us that Henry will donate royalties from the book to Saluda Community Land Trust. Since my book club no longer meets because of the stay at home edict, now I can actually choose what to read all by myself, and I decided to order Early Dark because I really like to read short stories much more than long novels.

I started to order it online, but then decided to do what my friend Wendy does: get it locally. So, I called the Bookshelf in Tryon and asked Penny ordered it for me.

A week later she called to say that the book was here, so I picked it up a couple of days later. Now that she’s not open, if you order a book, she’ll put the bill on your credit card and leave the book at a convenient place for you to pick it up, or meet you at her door.

As I was lying in bed, reading this book, I thought about just how many people had worked together on this one small transaction. Henry wrote the book, he’s donating his profits to his community land trust, Penny is able to make the transaction, and I have a wonderful book to read. Everyone in this process has contributed to a healthy, vibrant community that values everyone’s different talents and strengths. From now on I’ll remember to copy Wendy’s habit of always finding a way to buy things through local vendors, from the Mill Spring Farm Store, or Nature’s Storehouse, or the Tryon Bookstore, or the local picture frame maker, or Wards Grocery, or Pace’s, …..the list goes on and on. Sometimes I have to order something through Amazon, but it’s the last resort, not the first. The first choice is right here within 15 miles from home.

A look at history tells us how oil and steel industries came to dominate our national economy since the late 1800’s by controlling access to the new technology: the railroad. As just one example, John D Rockefeller of Standard Oil conspired with railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt to charge competing companies huge sums to ship their product by rail. Later, Standard Oil convinced Congress to enact expensive safety laws that drove smaller gas and oil producers out of business. My grandfather’s small gas company was one of those casualties.

Now, Amazon holds the new technology: the internet. Amazon sells nearly 50% of all printed books and more than 80% of the e-book market. Delivering books to metropolitan areas is profitable, but our postal service must deliver in rural areas like ours, because it is not profitable. It’s the same old theme: it’s money that matter. But we know that’s not true. Community Matters. And community includes not only our people and our businesses; it includes our trees, and streams and forest animals, and all our beautiful natural surroundings.

Remember the adage of the 70’s: “think globally and act locally”? When you want or need to buy something, look here first. It’s a great way to support both you and people of a community that feeds your soul. Then go take a walk on one of the trails or parks provided for you by members of our benevolent community.

P.S.: Four days later.

Today was not a good day, spent dealing with power and money hungry human beings. So I took a walk. Within five minute I found a small, pure white, broken eggshell on the trail in front of me. A baby bird is starting a new life, maybe one that will be singing outside our bedroom window in the mornings some day. For the gift of life, all life, we give thanks.