Ruminations With a View

Reg Darling, Clarion PA, May 1970

Reg Darling, Clarion PA, May 1970

Reg Darling, Manchester Center, Vermont, 4/7/14

Reg Darling, Manchester Center, Vermont, 4/7/14

Reg Darling, watercolor journal, 4/21/14

Reg Darling, watercolor journal, 4/21/14

Earth Day

Hartwell Shaffer (aka Hartie) died on Earth Day 2003 (another of the constant stream of coincidences that flowed through and around him). A passage from my memoir, Hartwell Road:
Without road access, the Arnot was one of those rare places you could claim without need of ownership. Hartie had claimed it as his own—a place where his heart lived and that lived in his heart; it was truly sacred to him. The little valley, logged nearly a century before, had healed into peace and wildness with dense, swampy thickets in the lower end of the valley near its confluence with the Tionesta and spaciously mature forest farther upstream. Cool, shaded waters teemed with native trout. Hartie spoke of the Arnot with a reverent affection usually reserved for Judy and their children.
Now the creek and valley were nearly dead. Oil drillers were slicing it to ribbons with a grid-work of access roads and poisoning it with chemicals and brine from the saltwater aquifer they drilled through to reach the oil. The valley lay stabbed deeply and bleeding hard. Witnessing the tragedy, it was easy to be cynical and easier still to be angry, but Hartie’s grief drowned out those lesser, louder voices in his brain. He was tired of debates, recitations of statistics, legalities, environmental impacts, and economic benefits. He was tired of arguing for the spirituality of land and place against the desire for dollars, with greedheads who couldn’t possibly comprehend the former and redneck fools who could understand neither. He was not a man who could appease himself by writing letters to the editor.
I stopped at The Garage one day after fishing Six Mile Run near its confluence with the North Fork. I had caught my limit of legal, edible trout—important, moneyless food in those penniless early days of our marriage. Hartie was painting a life-sized plaster statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ child in bright acrylic colors. Fixed in the Christ child’s hand was a fishing rod, from which dangled a quart motor oil can. Mary held a sign that said, “OIL OR WATER?”
He placed it along Route 6, in cover of darkness. It vanished by late afternoon the following day.

Reg Darling, watercolor journal, 4/20/14

Reg Darling, watercolor journal, 4/20/14

Reg Darling, Manchester Center, Vermont, 4/7/14

Reg Darling, Manchester Center, Vermont, 4/7/14

Reg Darling, Manchester Center, Vermont, 4/7/14

Reg Darling, Manchester Center, Vermont, 4/7/14

Reg Darling, watercolor journal, 4/19/14

Reg Darling, watercolor journal, 4/19/14

Reg Darling, Manchester Center, Vermont, 4/7/14

Reg Darling, Manchester Center, Vermont, 4/7/14

Reg Darling, watercolor journal, 4/18/14

Reg Darling, watercolor journal, 4/18/14