The grass is yellow. It is spring and there have been no rains. The endless vista washes up against the bare Sangre de Cristo mountains. Normally this time of year, they would be sprinkled with snow like powdered sugar on a cake.
Ahead of me are the great sand dunes formed over eons from the breath of god. Separating the mountains and the dunes is Medano Creek and a lush little valley. As I cross the creek, a murder of crows greets me. There are signs of wild things everywhere. The tracks of coyote, rabbit, mouse and reptile. There are deer and elk signs as well. A western magpie croaks nearby.
The mid-day sun reveals a harsh and stark beauty. The dunes are like a drug that slowly seduces me. What is over the next rise? How close can I walk this cornice? Can I go a little further?
Now I can see nothing but an ocean of undulating sand.
The wind picks up, and as I look back, my tracks are erased. Have I ever been here? Does it matter? These wild places renew my soul. Perhaps it is nature asking if we exist?
To some, this place is just a desert. It has no value, unless there is oil under it. Unfortunately, the Department of Interior and the BLM want to lease the land for drilling not five miles from this sacred spot. When did drilling and mining and lumbering in our national parks become a thing? How numbed are we?
Much of our oil is exported now. I can think of only a couple reasons why we would drill in our precious national parks. The first is that there is no oil left anywhere else. Though we have growing clean and renewable energy sources, we continue to extract our natural resources like vampires. The second reason is simple greed. We, the people, own these lands. Yet we have very little control over them. Our governments are bought and corrupt. Good men fail to speak. We are held hostage to jobs. They tell us we “need” the oil. That it will be a good thing, but it never is.
We are learning the lessons of the first nations when we let those in government give away the land for nothing. We pay the price in pollution and a changing climate. But we still have time to act.
Our first act should be to embrace the men who have lost touch with the earth. I invite them to walk into the desert with me. To see the world.
We are all connected. Savor the earth.
L. Hobart Stocking