Arts

Settler Culture Going for Broke

Landscaping is hard work. The name says it all: land + scoop, the Old Norse word for fate, the shape one makes of a life by work, the scoop that drains a boat, the scull that grips the wave, the ship that holds you in the air. If it springs a leak and you have no scoop, your fate is certain: you drown.

Just Another Garden on Orchard Hill Road

The goal 40 years ago was to cover the living earth with black plastic, plant a few junipers and spirea and Oregon grape for the birds, and then live, without labour, in the wilderness.

And there’s the irony of settler culture. You shape the land by scooping it with a shovel and using whatever you can pick up down at the building supply store to keep it where you’ve placed it, but, no, in the end it is your fate, not the shape you made. The point of Old Norse fate (scöp) is you have to work with the past in the present to build the future. It’s work, and brings honour. The point of settler culture is to settle, to arrange things once and then live, relaxed, off the arrangement forever. The truth about settler culture is that people still want to settle.

This time, though, they just throw on a few grass seeds and wash their hands of it. The dump truck that you see is laying asphalt for the family car. The Earth is on its own.

Scary Stuff

Don’t worry. It knows what to do.

The “owner” of this piece of land went bankrupt within settler culture, and, by the looks of it, felt that responsibility to the Earth and “ownership” were not linked. The new owner is now petitioning to not only convert this land to housing but the wild land up the hill, originally set aside as a nature preserve, in order to make a “profit” from his “ownership.” Seemingly, other settlers will support his claim with settler money, on the gold-mining principle that he was there first (well, ok, second, but the first claim goes to him through purchase), yet, oddly enough, the Earth never gets her cut. But, don’t worry, She knows what to do. Look, she’s telling us.

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