Song of the Paper Burner
It is the week before Thanksgiving, and the oak leaves are yellowing.
I am with others helping a friend pack up to move back to the Chicago area to live with her son. It is hard for her to leave, but she knows she must go.
I like her need for order, whether things are packed away or to be given away. She is like a mother bird, suggesting this and that needing to go here and there. Boxes are taped and marked. If paper is identified as trash, it is burned by the man who claims he is an expert at this burning thing.
I try to throw in a mixture of plastic and cardboard. He stops me, saying he’ll take those items to the recycle place in town.
The man is admittedly tired and knows we are in a hurry, but he cannot watch me throw plastic into the fire. I finally see. He is like a cedar tree—beautiful bark, evergreen, resistant to insects. I am like the insect messing with the environment.
Hours later, I am thankful for his love of the killdeer, the turtle, the clean air. He is determined to do all he can to protect the world from me trying to mess it up. He may stand alone like a Great Blue Heron, saint-like, but he is determined to stand and do his part.
This morning I am grateful to the paper burner. He is a protector of the land, and if the land is protected, perhaps the fate of man is, too.
Photo by Pat Durmon, on Hwy 201, Mountain Home, Arkansas. November 2016.