This is the next installment of Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape With Figures:
“Unable to throw off a mood of inexplicable sadness all morning. I kept feeling as if someone I loved had just died. Not until early this afternoon when I was sitting down on the ledges did I realize it was the anniversary of Father’s death. Curious how you remember year after year in some buried layer of your mind certain anniversaries which the top of you mind has forgotten.
Then I recalled that at the time of his death, when I had returned here for a few days, I had gone by myself for an hour and had sat in that selfsame spot on the ledges. And I remembered how I had found a measure of tranquility and a consolation of sorts in thinking how long that rocky coats had endured. It was essentially the same as when the last glacier receded from it tens of thousands of years ago: a little erosion by the waves, a little chipping off by winter’s frost, but basically unchanged. It seemed to me it would endure for as long or longer in the future, a background against which untold numbers of individuals might appear briefly even as I, until the universe came to a natural end in fire or ice at some inconceivably remote date. That day I had felt one could almost (but not quite) learn to accept death as the end of the individual without undue agony of mind since the miracle of life itself in all its manifestations would go on virtually forever.
This morning as I sat gazing out over the calm sea, I tried to recapture that pensive mood but instead I became incensed as my thoughts turned toward what we are doing to our world. Even if we don’t bring it to an abrupt and violent end my bombs, we may do it just as effectively by gradual devastation: polluting our rivers and lakes with chemicals and waste materials, poisoning the air we breathe with noxious fumes, contaminating our food either directly or indirectly with pesticides, cutting down forests and draining swamps that support much of our wildlife in order to build shopping centers and airstrips, bludgeoning baby seals to make high-fashion coats out of their skins…
The list goes on and one, as everybody knows, and thank God more and more voices have been raised in warning and outrage during the past few years. At long last it’s being realized that the relationship between humankind and the environment is a matter of health and therefore of life or death. At least some effort is being made to halt the destruction.
But there are those who warn that without a greater effort it will soon be too late. There are those who say it is already too late.
What a paradox that we are all looking for more abundant life in one way or another and at the same time seemingly doing our level best to destroy what life we have.
I came back to the house in a rage and wrote another batch of protest letters to various powers that be.”