Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Inajá, in memoriam

"The price we pay for progress" is a rather trite expression but now it has more meaning. The palm you see in the image was chained-sawed down today because it stood in the way of progress. As I reported in an earlier blog, our community of Poço Branco and some other villages on the road have been included in the federal government's Rural Electrification program. Believe me, this is a time of joy and jubilation for the people of this region. I think in particular of a local teacher, Dona Inêz, who has carried the banner of "lights for the rural people of Brazil" for as long as I can remember. Since 1981, to be exact. She has sat on the doorsteps of every mayor and governor in office almost every week since I've known her. The years have past and she's now retired - from teaching - but not from her relentless pursuit of electricity. Thanks to President Lula and his bold "lights for every rural home" program, she'll cross the finish line in the next few weeks. I'm rather excited about getting electricity myself because it'll provide some options we've never had before, like an electric fan and even a well for pumping water. Face it, I'm tired of hauling water to keep my plants alive over the long dry summers. At the same time, I accept the fact that some sacrifices have to be made. Trees and electric power lines don't get a long very well. The CELPA regulation for putting up a power line is that there be 10 meters of clearing in order to prevent trees from falling over on it. My poor inajá palm (Attalea maripa) was right at the edge of road and would have been almost under the future power line. I took this picture only two days ago. I must have had a premonition that its days were numbered. This morning I heard the roar of a chainsaw close to the reception center and I figured that some clearing was about to take place. My neighbor's hired hand was kind enough to come over to tell me what was happening. I was pleased to learn that my mahogany trees were to be spared, mainly because they were too small to pose a threat to progress. As they get older I can prune them back so they won't get chainsawed too. On the way out of the Bosque I was saddened to see my inaja palm flat on the ground.

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