Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Seems Like Such a Shame

On an earlier post (the Human Volcano) about the usual topic at Wit's End - trees dying from air pollution - Anonymous left a link to a youtube video, with the comment:
...every single time I read your blog, this song, especially these words, plays in my head

I still recall the taste of your tears...
This thing is slowly taking me apart.
Grey would be the color if I had a heart.

I liked the song so much - although I had never heard of Nine Inch Nails before - that I was wondering how to use it in a post.
The very next day, I heard about a wildlife refuge in Pennsylvania, where many waterfowl - wood ducks and trumpet swans - and especially a huge flock of snow geese stop every spring on their northward migration.
I decided to try to film them, even though I'm, shall we say, challenged by the technical details of shooting, downloading, and editing.  But, I was craving some abundant life, for a change, so yesterday I set off on an expedition.
Of  course I could easily have stopped and photographed masses of dying trees along the way there, and back...but there are just so many I didn't dare to begin, because I wouldn't have known when to quit.  I was also tempted to stop and photograph the tattered signs on back country roads pointing out places like Uncle Joe's Gun Shop and imploring travelers to Embrace the Lord.  Things haven't changed much, in the land of the Bitterz where folks cling to their guns and Bibles, as Obama described it last election cycle.  I may have to go back sometime, for the signs and the marvelously dilapidated barns, and the poor trees, but yesterday I only pulled over for this one, because I was afraid it might be removed before I can return.
This may be the biggest stump I've ever seen.  That's a large-size blue garbage container behind it.  In full-blown white trash glory the yard is strewn with plastic debris, including a fake Christmas tree.  There is a pen in the rear, only about six feet across and deep, with five frantic dogs howling viciously and scrabbling on top of each other to escape, so I didn't stay long.  Their racket brought a woman out of the house.  She had not the slightest idea what kind of tree it was, and remarked acidly that it almost killed everybody when a tornado took it down last summer.  Of course, the fact that it was completely rotten in the center had nothing to do with it.  I can't imagine living under the shadow of a tree that must be well over 300 years old, perhaps considerably more, and never having any curiosity as to what species it is.
The trees around the lake, which is over 400 acres, are rotting too, whether old or young.
The preserve itself is over 6,000 acres, much of it made inaccessible for habitat - but of course there's still a substantial area reserved for "controlled harvest" of wildlife.
There were a couple of dozen other people besides me, who had come to watch the snow geese.
One of them, a man who lives nearby and has been hiking to the lake to see them for many years, confirmed what the wildlife management office had told me when I called them on the phone - there are far fewer this year.
He seemed as puzzled as they were, and they all believe that for some reason the geese must have gone somewhere else.  The number of tundra swans is low too - in the dozens instead of hundreds.
His estimate as to the numbers of snow geese this season was ~50,000.  The size of this flock at its peak in years past?  Up to 200,000.

The lyrics are printed beneath the video.

I still recall the taste of your tears 
Echoing your voice just like the ringing in my ears 
My favorite dreams of you still wash ashore 
Scraping through my head 'till I don't want to sleep 

You make this all go away 
You make this all go away 
I'm down to just one thing 
And I'm starting to scare myself 
You make this all go away 
You make this all go way 
I just want something 
I just want something I can never have 

You always were the one to show me how 
Back then I couldn't do the things that I can do now 
This thing is slowly taking me apart 
Gray would be the colour if I had a heart 
Come on, tell me 
You make this all go away 
You make this all go away 
I'm down to just one thing 
And I'm starting to scare myself 
You make this all go away 
You make this all go away 
I just want something 
I just want something I can never have 

In this place it seems like such a shame 
Though it all looks different now 
I know it's still the same 
Everywhere I look you're all I see 
Just a fading fucking reminder of who I used to be 
Come on, tell me! 

You make this all go away 
You make this all go away 
I'm down to just one thing 
And i'm starting to scare myself 
You make this all go away 
You make it all go way 
I just want something 
I just want something I can never have 
I just want something I can never have


  1. It's surprising how often Nine Inch Nails music makes a appropriate soundtrack for what is happening to our world. Johnny Cash knew it, which was probably why he covered this NIN song at the very end of his life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIbepKZC7Po

  2. I'd enjoy seeing the snow geese live and in person some day. I loved the movie you took, Gail. Must have stirred the heart to witness such natural beauty.

  3. It was pretty cool, Dion. The snow geese are only there for a few days, around the end of February, early March. You should check with the visitors center before you make the trip! Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area


  4. Bill Hicks is correct. To deal with my son's multiple surgeries for a birth defect (it's not just the trees being affected by pollution,) I got turned onto NIN via Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt, especially when I had to hold down a screaming boy for the hospital lab vampires to draw seemingly millions of blood samples with those needles.

    I hurt myself today
    To see if I still feel
    I focus on the pain
    The only thing that's real
    The needle tears a hole
    The old familiar sting
    Try to kill it all away
    But I remember everything

    What have I become?
    My sweetest friend
    Everyone I know
    Goes away in the end
    You could have it all
    My empire of dirt
    I will let you down
    I will make you hurt

    So when grandpa died of cancer, mom gave me his old guitar and Hurt is the first song I learned to play.

    NIN can sometimes be industrially harsh, all anger, but here are some other gentle gems that you could include in another video:

    Trent has never played Leaving Hope in concert.

    We all seek A Warm Place sometimes.

    I like The Frail so much I tried to play it myself, using my thumb like a boss.

    Anyway, I'm glad you liked Something I Can Never Have.

  5. Thanks for the links, I did really like the Johnny Cash version, and yours! - and I'll listen to the others.

    Having a child directly suffer certainly changes the perspective, forever, I know.

  6. No more Monarch Butterflies, no more geese migrating overhead. A sea of orange fluttering its way back to Mexico no more. A sky of whooshing, honking back to Canada no more. What will be our legacy? Death? Destruction? Caring and learning are no more. What will take this to be no more? Gone are dreams of love and living. No more.


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