Thursday, May 1, 2008


Another, if less integrated, series of thoughts today. A friend of mine teaches juxtaposition in poetry -- how just by placement we can make more powerful connections than we could linearly or narratively.

First, my daughter's first grade class is raising chicks -- from eggs. I was worried this would mean eggs would come under fire as dinner food (my fall-back when all hell breaks loose) -- luckily not. Yesterday she told us that you have to wash your hands with soap for a really long time before you turn the eggs. The oil on your hands seals the breathing holes in the eggs and the chickens will die. In the darkroom, you can use grease from your nose to seal a small scratch in a negative. Now these two facts have nothing to do with petroleum, but they do speak to the nature of oil...

I came across a t-shirt in Whole Foods yesterday -- it said, "Insatiable is not Sustainable."

Then two articles in the times today. I'm just going to quote them.

OTTAWA — Canadian federal and provincial government officials were conducting an investigation Wednesday into Syncrude Canada, a large oil-sands project operator, after hundreds of migrating ducks that landed in a company tailings pond died.

Water used to separate and process the oil-bearing tar in oil-sands deposits ends up in large ponds and becomes a toxic sludge. Alberta officials said Tuesday that Syncrude had failed to operate noisemakers to frighten away birds. The company also appears not to have notified the province’s government about the birds’ arrival on Monday.

An anonymous tip eventually alerted officials that about 500 birds were in the pond.

by Jim Robbins
“There’s something soothing about hearing a horse whinny and swish her tail,” she said. “You leave on a ride with all the noise in your head and at the end things have quieted down and I have the best way and the most poetic way to write the passage.”

But there is a nearby world that obsesses her, a world she finds unsettling. She and her husband, Charlie Ross, a real-estate broker, recently built a one-room log cabin in Sublette County, more rural and far less rarefied. It offers an expansive, soul-stirring view of the extraordinary Wind River Range and the high plains — but at the same time a window into what she considers Wyoming’s destruction by the development of gas and oil fields.

“I fell in love with Wyoming because it reminded me of Africa,” she said. “It’s beautiful, but a harsh environment and it’s tough to make a living.”
Ms. Fuller has what she calls the good life, Rocky Mountain style.


“It’s all been leased,” she said. “It’s all slated for oil and gas development.”

Later we drove past the tiny town of Pinedale, and across public land, where towering steel oil derricks flying American flags slice into the blue sky and a natural landscape once full of antelope, jackrabbits and sagebrush is now a vast industrial landscape. White pickup trucks raise clouds of dust and fierce winds blow tumbleweeds across prairie scraped to bare dirt by bulldozers.

Biologists say that this development could destroy the antelope migration from outside Pinedale to Yellowstone National Park, hundreds of miles north, now the longest overland mammal migration in the Lower 48.


She was born into white Rhodesia and came of age during the war for independence by the black majority, who renamed it Zimbabwe. By the age of 6, she said, she had learned how to use an Uzi submachine gun and knew the basics of first aid. She suffered the ordeal of her baby sister drowning, an older brother who died of meningitis and another who died in infancy; she says the cause of death was being born in Africa.

Now she considers herself a messenger who must bear witness to what she sees as the war on the land, with its natural and human casualties.

“I travel between these worlds. I couldn’t leave the oil field behind when I came home to Teton County,” she said. It has been hard, Ms. Fuller allows, to tell her friends about the other Wyoming. “I can’t talk about my childhood, I can’t talk about the war, and its hard to talk about what’s going on in the oil field. That’s why I wrote the book.”

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