by Tony Owens, M.D., Board President, Natural Resources Council of Maine
I awoke this morning early, simultaneously aware of two sensations—a feeling of warmth radiating from the wood stove, and the aroma of onions sautéing from the kitchen. This could only mean one thing: vegetable soup for dinner. A quick, “Good morning,” was followed by “would you make your bread today?” Beth, my wife, is the mistress of the kitchen in our house and one serves there only at her invitation. To be asked to make my bread was about as strong an endorsement as one could get. With the whole wheat bread rising near the wood stove, I could finish my coffee and reflect again on the gift of the beginning of autumn in Maine.
I have mentioned Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac in prior essays, and his portrayal of seasonal change is the gold standard, in my opinion. The garden yielded much to Beth’s soup pot—kale, carrots, tomatoes, onions, peas, beans, and parsley, all gifts from Maine’s summer. And now the warmth of the woodstove, the ritual of keeping the wood box full, the smells of the kitchen lingering inside the more tightly sealed house portend the transition to autumn. One shouldn’t take these seemingly insignificant events for granted, for they are the essence of living close to the land.
On a bigger scale, there are many other things we shouldn’t take for granted in Maine, and sometimes they are both harder to protect and appreciate. NRCM is busy at work stewarding Maine’s environment. Beth and I work to maintain the integrity of the small space in Maine we call home, but protection of our larger environment from careless exploitation requires a professional organization with the staff, skills, and expertise of NRCM.
The advocacy staff has been tested the last two years like never before, and they can proudly point to numerous success stories during a time when, without them, the safeguards for Maine’s environment would have been dramatically weakened. New challenges continue to arise—the threat of a tar sands oil pipeline, a proposed East-West highway, and the serious threat of open-pit mines. Elimination of the State Planning Office, merging of state agencies responsible for environmental oversight—these compound the threat. Your continued and generous support has never been more important. Collectively the NRCM family can look back with pride, having weathered the recession without staff or mission cutbacks, the organization continues to stand stalwart and proud in defense of Maine’s environment.
I hope you will join me in Portland this Thursday, September 27, at USM for our annual meeting. I look forward to hearing your concerns and stories, and to introducing you to a slate of terrific new board candidates while thanking those retiring from board service. We also will be presenting our 2012 Environmental Awards to well-deserving individuals who have made important contributions to protection of Maine’s environment. And you won’t want to miss what our guest speaker, Ramsey Hart of Miningwatch Canada has to say about his experience and observations concerning the issue of open-pit mines in our neighboring country to the North. His presentation, “Mining for Metals: Big Promises, Harsh Realities,” will shed light on the ways such mining operations could threaten the health of Maine’s waters and wildlife. Well, the bread has risen and the oven is hot. Time for me to get back in the kitchen and contribute appreciatively to the indoor aromas of fall in Maine.
“Battle Over Bald Mountain” – Down East magazine article, July 2012
Open-pit Metal Mining in Maine – NRCM web pages