Each summer nearly three million guests visit Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Eastern Maine. Acadia encompasses the greater part of Mount Desert Island, is the oldest National Park east of the Mississippi and one of the most visited national parks in the nation. During our stay on the island, we took a rest day to explore. Over dinner the night before in Bar Harbor, we discussed with a few  College of the Atlantic students and alumni and Earth In Brackets  members (fellow youth delegates to the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris) about the role of national parks in culture and the positive and negative impacts of protecting public land. Below is a reflection.

 where silence grows on trees 

4’33” of ambient
noise or
two hundred and seventy-three
seconds of thievery –
“there is no such thing as silence”
John Cage whispers to the
        bark
of the crowd

in a world double stitched
with car
        beep-beeps
and plane
        vooooooooo-oooooooooms
and Beats
        head-phones,
noise cancellation is
still
just a thread
        click
away

and yet, silence
is victim as we strap
bass drums and yoga mats
to our attention spans,
in nature the
“untouched” places
are knighted the historic concert halls of
wildness
places where we
pay
others to separate
for us
the music from the noise
the wild from the nature
the wave from the water

three million of us
dive into Acadia every year
bobbing pleasantly in the dry waves
of the natural world
leaping from the “unnatural”
diving board of Cape Cod
to look at wildness from behind
something other than bars and glass panes

they tell us
        the park is protected
that we
        should not worry about the
        integrity of the natural systems
that
        it will be left protected for future generations
and we
listen happily while we
stand in line,
khaki zip-off pants grinning,
fulfilling our annual requirement

“there is no such thing as silence”

our appetites crawl onto the
“unnatural” bus,
weaned slowly from the music
of the historic concert hall
by familiar comfort foods stamped
above the bus windows:

“In a big world tiny creatures rule –
The eastern red-backed salamander is one of
the most common vertebrates in New England!”

next stop, Village Green

“The strangest ice cream ingredient you will
see all day – Irish Moss!
a kind of algae found on the coast of Maine,
it is commonly used to thicken
ice cream and chocolate milk!”

outside the park gates
we eat our
“unnatural” food and sleep in our
“artificial” sheets
while the “natural” park
is maintained,
“naturally”
and

when we return
from our vacation and
continue our “work”
and eat the “natural” food
from our televisions
delivered to us in our “unnatural” houses,
do not be surprised when
the foundations of
all the buildings except
this historic concert hall
begin to crumble and
we
are left in
        silence

-G

FULL COLLAGE


TV_nature_ACADIA “come on in!”
paper collage
5″ x 8″