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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

To Be a Helium Balloon

Magical Forest: MaxPixel
Magical Forest: MaxPixel

For many long months, whenever I entered the sacred sanctuary that I call home and respectfully shared with others, I would quickly return to the safety of my house. Of course, it was noisy indoors too, but it was somewhat better. I had never experienced anything like it before.

Over the years, I had faced a few short-term construction projects that were daunting but nothing like the most recent local operation—an assault on all of the senses.

When I was in California, I lived beneath a flight pattern of a fairly busy airport. I was renting the place, so moving to a better, quieter location was easy. Here and now, deep in these woods, there was no escape.

I am sensitive to sound, which means that the constant industrial screeching and grinding had a profound, negative impact on all aspects of my being. This went on seven days a week, from sun-up to sundown. Occasionally, when the ongoing task was very close, I could hear and feel the giant, two-hundred-plus-year-old trees crash to the earth.

I work from home as a writer, wildcraft practitioner, teacher, and creator.

For those who do not know:


Verb: gather (herbs, plants, and fungi) from the wild.

Noun: the action or practice of wildcrafting (Oxford Languages).

Wildcrafting is foraging and gathering plants for medicine and food. It’s a unique, sacred practice that I have been doing for a very long time, honoring the land and customs of my ancestors.

I worked very hard to approach this sensibly and calmly within my rights. I guess there aren't a lot of those kicking around these days. However, nothing was done to protect the land or the citizens. Even typing and posting this will do nothing but irritate a few—maybe. Maybe some compassionate people will post about it, but it’s done. The window has closed.

Here and now, we are witnessing a massive increase in the homeless population. It is not what you think—nothing like the cities. No, of course, I am talking about animals and birds.

So instead of going on about how I authentically care for the planet and its inhabitants, I am celebrating a week or so of silence. Perhaps the operation has moved away and is clearing, grinding, and cutting further off in the distance. If so, I am sorry for those who will suffer.

I am whooping it up because it is quiet. YES! WOOHOO!

My productivity was affected. Now, I can work in my studio again. I was unable to produce recordings because of the noise. It is so quiet now, and the constant flow of heavy equipment has also subsided. I am almost in shock.

I will always love and care for the land and its inhabitants. We are meant to share. I am an actual, genuine steward of the earth. There are a lot of talkers out there and few doers.

I am sharing the good news that although I could not successfully advocate for Our Mother, the work that just went on and on and on has finally ceased. I am ecstatic to go outside and hear the red-winged blackbirds or glorious nothing. It is so quiet compared to what it was for months on end that I know what it must feel like to be a helium balloon floating across the sky.

I give thanks for the silence. I don’t know how long it will last, but it is here now. I also thank the people I met who genuinely care about the well-being of the Earth and Its inhabitants.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Earth,Teach Me (Ute Prayer for the Planet)

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.

Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.

Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.

Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.

Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.

Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.

Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.

Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.

Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.

Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

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