|This Land is MY Land!
That song popped into my head yesterday while I was hiking in “my” backyard on the Turrett Trail in Browns Canyon National Monument. And I couldn't shake it out, because for the first time I really noticed how many signs there were nearby, all shouting “Mine! Mine! Mine!” like the seagulls in the movie “Finding Nemo”.* I also noticed that many more people were on “my” river and “my” trails, including a half-naked dude who was apparently unaware of how close he was to the trail. I think he must have been one of the riverside campers I spotted from the bridge. I thought he may have heard or seen me, so I stopped walking to give him some time to finish whatever it was he was doing. It's been a while since I have seen a dude's naked butt, and I couldn't help but notice it was a pretty damn nice one. But when he bent over I quickly turned around so he could pull up his pants with impunity, because that is the kind of polite person I am. A minute or two later when I turned back around (after grabbing my phone and resisting a strong urge to take a picture) he was still standing there sans pants, but now there was some hand involvement, butt-wise. That was enough for me to turn around and take a different route.
It was a lovely day with blue skies, fluffy clouds and lots of blooming cactus to enjoy. As I made my way up the hill I ran into Mort, one of my Chateau neighbors. I asked him if he had gone all the way to the top of Ruby Mountain, and he said yes, which was impressive considering he uses a cane. He said he used to do “the loop”, but now that there's new owners of the land just north of “ours”, (Chateau Chaparral's, that is), they are denying access to the portion of the trail that cuts across their property. We agreed they are within their rights but that it would be more neighborly if they would put up a sign saying, “Private Property. Please stay on trail.” Instead it has been a ongoing battle. They put up a wire fence, someone from Chateau cuts it down feeling they are justified because “we've always used that trail”. Then up goes a bigger wire fence and more signs, and someone cuts it down again, probably the same person who gets vehemently angry when someone who doesn't live here in Chateau drives up, casually walks into the lodge to use the bathroom and then snags some free ice for their cooler. When a hiker dares to cross our bridge, or a kayaker rests on our shoreline, or a group of river rafters stop to take a whiz on our beach (which is now totally underwater), people here get really ticked off. Mine, mine, mine!
It got me thinking about this concept of owning private land, sharing public land, and how we use our land, our water and our planet in general. It is not a pretty picture. I believe that when native people first inhabited the earth, they knew how to use the land wisely, they respected the earth and its resources and knew how to live in harmony with nature, if not with each other. I like to imagine a magical place where everyone respects the land and the other creatures who share it, where no one has to “own” it and everyone shares our earth's bounty. That would eliminate war which is always about “Mine!” whether it's oil, water, land, or religious beliefs. Yes, I know it will never happen, but wouldn't it be nice?
Meanwhile I better go get MY free ice from the machines before those greedy trespassers show up for the holiday. Happy Birthday, America!
*If you have not seen this movie, you are missing out. Even though it is an animated “kids” movie, it is very funny and sweet, has a great story line, and the animation is beautiful. It is one of my all-time favorite movies. But, if you were traumatized by the opening scene of Bambi or Dumbo, be prepared, because in true Disney fashion, the mother gets bumped off.