It’s a beautiful day. Sunny and pleasant. One of those last days of August when the sun loses its power and becomes meek and gentle. Days meant to be spent lying on a meadow, away from all the sounds of urban living. Days reserved for rest, regeneration, and search for inner peace.
I started preparing much earlier this time; I didn’t want to make any oversight. I focused on taking all the necessary things, sorting them in order; I just couldn’t allow myself to forget something and ruin this lovely day. Everything went smoothly. My daughter, excited by the idea of playing in the woods, got dressed immediately, which is very unlikely of her, while my husband tidied the trunk and meticulously put all the bags.
And here we are, sitting in the car, ready for the journey to begin. A good mood accompanies us along the way while I artfully put aside every thought that comes to my mind intending to spoil the day. “No, I won’t allow it,” I answer with strict determination! “What, mommy?”–my daughter startles me. “Oh, it’s nothing, nothing at all; the most important thing is to keep singing.” The road in front of us is picturesque, verdant; you could see the mountains and experience wideness in its pure form. Our songs fill the air in the car. Everything is somehow idyllic.
The road is calm; the traffic is light, occasionally some cars would pass by. Out of nowhere, this strange car passes us. Well, it wasn’t really a car for that matter, but more like an adjusted (somehow halfway cut) vehicle loaded with wood. The image is surreal, like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. It takes me by surprise, so I instinctively turn to see it again. I want to say something right away, to ask what was that, but I don’t allow any further thought to distract me. I tell myself over and over the goal of the day. Days like this are exceptional when everything fits into a tiny perfection – the time, the unanimous decision, the speed of preparation, and we still can’t think of something being forgotten to make us go back. So, we continue our trip. We are singing songs, some invented, some forgotten, some slightly alternated, but what’s most important we keep on singing.
Soon we arrived at the spot. Right in front of us, there’s this beautiful tall tree casting a vast shadow that won’t allow the sun to sneak into our car. We get out and stretch a little. I raise my head up. Clear blue sky above us and rich flourishing vegetation around us. The air is so fresh, so I try to take as many deep breaths as possible as if I’m trying to store that oxygen in my lungs for later.
We go deeper in the forest, searching for the right spot. As we walk on the path, tall trees rejoice above us. Suddenly I notice a glare in the distance, which I am sure wasn’t there. It was full of trees as far as I remember, but maybe my memory doesn’t serve me well. Just as we are about to settle, I already take out the blanket, a loud banging sound flies through the air towards us. I knew something would happen! This is the moment I was afraid of all this time.
We can’t just pretend we didn’t hear anything and enjoy the picnic. “Mom, is someone hurt?” my daughter asks. I wrap the blanket, and we go back, following the sound.
Two trees have fallen on the ground, and next to them, a man is busy falling. He is caught red-handed. “I have no choice,” he says, justifying himself. I’m horrified from the sight: in front of our very eyes, there is a man who has illegally cut down two-pole trees, with trunks that now won’t have the chance to strengthen or grow old. I am stuck between countless arguments on both sides. This individual, unsystematic logging is just one naïve example of what’s happening in the world. The fact is that illegal logging is in an unhealthy marriage with poverty, which makes people vulnerable and pushes many on the wrong side of the law. However, that’s not by any means justifying the argument, and illegal logging is far from solving such complex problems as extreme poverty and heating during wintertime (still a practice in my country). One only gets tangled up. “What about these sad clear areas around us?”, the question that has been bothering me from the moment we arrived, and I finally allow myself to mention the empty, naked land around me, something I kept silent about from the moment we arrived.
At that moment, Easter Island comes to my mind, a symbol of one of the most significant archaeological mysteries – giant stone statues and an example of ecological collapse. Residents became obsessed with erecting monumental statues as a status symbol to honor the chiefs who passed away and confirm their grandeur. They used trees to build houses and canoes, burn the dead, and transport the monolithic structures on Y-shaped sleds made from trees. They fell and fell until there was not a single tree left. And that meant no more firewood, no material for canoes and fishing, soil erosion, winds, barren soil, famine, wars, cannibalism, death…
“Please, don’t turn me in,” he interrupts my thoughts.
I take my daughter by the hand. “Yes, two trees were injured,” I answered her question earlier.
“Ecocide is a genocide of the highest rank.”
We are going to the car. Our way back was quiet.
More information about illegal logging and its consequences at the following links: