Let's Hope
Off the Wall, May 4
, 2012

The following little story is fictitious in “nature.” I have written about my friends in the great outdoors before, but never introduced them as I am doing here. I guess you could say, the following is a little bit out of the ordinary, but in this case a story told by animals.

Some of you who have been reading my columns for sometime may remember my “deer” friend named Delbert. I first met him in the woods and after a bit of coaxing we became friends so much that he took me through the woods in Latrobe and Unity Township and introduced me to the other animals and fowl life that live among us.
Today’s story will be told by them, for I feel that learning something first hand is better than “through the grape line,” as the saying goes. Here soes…

I happened to be doing a little scouting to go fishing one day when Delbert eyed me and came running over and greeted me. I could see he was deeply troubled about something, so I proceeded to ask just what was wrong.

“Paul,” all my friends in the field, small wooded areas and forests are coming to me and telling me that they are losing their homes. It seems big machinery is coming in and clearing away our trees, cutting into our space where we have lived for years. We are being forced to move someplace else, but is it hard, for many of us can’t move as fast and our lives are being threatened.”

“Where exactly is this taking place, Delbert,” I said.

“At first it was in one field where many of us bedded down. But then after green cylindrical units were put in place and the ground smoothed off, we took for granted that there would be no more drilling, but boy were we wrong.”

“Yes, Delbert, I am aware that Marsellus Shale drilling is taking place all over the place. When it started, I gave little thought to it, because I failed to dig into the facts immediately, but now, I worry about you and the others you introduced me to last year. How are they holding up?

“Paul, they are confused. Each of them had a pattern of life upon which they could rely. Now, they are in question just where they can get food, water and move about just like they did in former years. I know I am worried about them as well as my brothers and sisters that also find themselves shoved into areas where our roaming about is limited.”

“So how are you coping?” I said with concern.

“You know, Paul, I didn’t think it was any bid deal when those machines came into what I considered my area and took a chunk out of my roaming space. After all, I could go and graze someplace else. But, now I learn that the wooded area where I used to bed down for the night is getting a facelift and I no longer can chew the grasses there, I feel forced to have go to places that may be unsafe for my kin and our young.”

Stopping briefly and looking around, he must have detected the sounds of engines off in the distance. I can only surmise they must have been the bulldozers some distance away. Here again, they may have been clearing land for more drilling or making room for the housing plans that are going up so quickly throughout the area.

“Paul, I’m scared. We have so many threats against us now. I don’t think these people have any respect for what is rightfully ours. We have lived in these woods and eaten from the fields for decades. All of a sudden, we are losing our land. I don’t think that’s fair.”

“Delbert,” I said, “you will learn even at your age as a full-grown buck, that life isn’t all you would want it to be. God has blessed you with the ability to move up into the hills and where there are forests. In the thick of things, you will be safer, at least until hunting season, of course. But you won’t feel the threat as much as your little friends who have occupied the area with you. We must pray that they, too, will find ways to find new homes despite the onslaught of more mining and housing developments that have flourished just in the last year. It must be so hard for all of you.”

Before he rejoined his family, I had to tell him my thoughts.

“Delbert, my friend, I want you to know that you can always come to me and tell me what’s going on. Some people may call me an environmental wacko, but I sense what you the rest of our wildlife friends are experiencing. It can’t be easy. Let’s just hope that our waters will never be poisoned, minimal amount of land will be used, and you will convey to the others that I will be praying for them that all will be well in the near future.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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