Below the Garden
~ Maureen Brucker

Over these last eighteen months, the garden

has flourished. It is now twice the size it once

was. We are setting up a potting shed in a

triangular fenced area along the side of the

garage.

The peach tree is now where two aspens died.

The bulbs from the fall are progressing nicely. Large pots are on the front patio and stoop awaiting flowers. We have been gifted a nice quantity of sage that will be planted in front of the house. With a bit of luck, we might get some mint from the same source.

We now have a plum tree in back near the 2 apple trees. With the loving care they have received, those apple trees are slowly getting stronger.

The land is thriving under the compassionate care it has received.

However, over the last six or seven years, this land has been threatened. It is within one of the most fracked counties in Colorado. We are on the western end of the Oglala aquafur, in a land decent for farming as long as the irrigation lasts. In the years since 1998, when I moved here for my job, the 'hidden treasures' under the soil have become increasingly important to some. First it was the threat of uranium mining in the tiny towns north of here. Then fracking became the important industry. Monthly there are people knocking at my door trying to get me to sell my mineral rights. The attempts are futile. I will not sell them.

For all the spoken care and concern on the front end, all I have to do is drive barely a mile up the hill to the local high school. There are five wells under that structure! Next door to the high school is a k-8 elementary school.

All this, in a very conservative, right to life town. A town that prides itself with well manicured green lawns and churches filled not only on Sunday morning but also evening and Wednesday evenings as well. It is a prosperous town with hard working people given to work rather than many leisure time pursuits.

As a city girl, I first encountered man's need to destroy the earth for material gain, in West Virginia during my college years. There, gorgeous mountain countryside was interspersed with horribly destroyed land that had been tunneled, then stripped then flattened all in the name of gathering up the last vestiges of mineral worth from the soil.

Upon moving to Colorado after college, I became acquainted with hard rock mining and the desperation in man called 'gold fever'. By the Seventies, when I was looking to purchase land, the words out of my mouth invariably included the question, 'Are mineral rights included?' I had learned certain lessons well enough to understand that those mineral rights gave you control of a certain portion of the conversation with those who wished to mine or extract resources from the earth. After walking the hills west of Boulder, I was well aware of the industrial leavings.

Thus, when I bought land and a house again years later in northeastern Colorado, I made sure that mineral rights were included.

And, so, today, as they do many days out of the month, the train of oil and gas people come to the doors in my neighborhood trying to get me to sell those rights so that they can drill. The answer is always a firm 'no'.

How could I even consider the sale of the flesh and blood of ina maka – Mother Earth.

On a more pleasant note, it is also the time of yard sales and lemonade stands and other out door activities to gather money for the EREZ Fund. Money gathered now will keep families and elders warm this winter. It is never too early to get an event organized. The elders are depending on each and every one of you.

When the event is finished, go to www.whispernthunder.org. Click on the donate button and make that vital contribution.