A warm, windless, fogless spell has settled in over us. I expect August to have days like this. The gray doom of June and July has perhaps spent itself. I am digging on the hillside, planting avocado trees and a rhododendron, and prefer to work in the cooler air. Ivy had over taken one of my favorite gardening spots, a pocket of soil nestled inside the rock wall I built from stone that I hauled out of Big Sur and Arroyo Seco canyon. Ivy had completely covered that section of the wall. The tenacious, woody tentacles stretch over the fence from the neighbor’s larger ivy patch, so if I want to maintain a view of my rock wall I must occasionally whack back the ivy.

Running around in the heat of the day looking for the healthiest and best-priced trees to plant, then digging ground in the relatively cooler morning air. Trees live a long time and so the planting of them is a rare activity for me, as I can fit only a few on my hillside before I begin to block the sunlight or just plain run out of room for them. The mother of all trees on my property is a hundred foot tall redwood, but it is a mere child when compared with the grove across the road, where ancient giants hover over creek and glen.

The more I dig and plan for planting, the more ideas and energy I seem to come up with on how to rearrange the landscape here in other ways. I suppose I could spend the rest of my life on the steep hillside behind me building terraces and walkways between them, applying labor, water, amended soil, and seed to the better growing spots. Around this county I have seen where a few dedicated gardeners have added much beauty to the landscape through their intense efforts. All the earth deserves such treatment, but that will never happen. The bumper sticker I read the other day said “The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth”. We live under the illusion that earth’s resources are limitless and that we are entitled to scrape what material wealth we can from the skin of the planet and turn it into our personal wealth for our own fun and pleasure.

I doubt that trend in thinking will change. Even when and if the health of the planet or our economies should very quickly become ruinous, a class of people will continue to see themselves entitled to live lavishly, insisting that they have some sort of right or privilege, forgetting about the concepts of duty, responsibility, and accountability.

This past week I read an article listing the top forty wealthiest people in the world. I have not the time to read up on the lives of all forty so I picked just one at random to see what makes him tick. Number nineteen is currently a fellow in India named Mukesh Ambani. He is the CEO of India’s largest gas and oil company, and he owns the world’s most expensive home. The home is located in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Imagine owning this and living amongst some of the poorest slums in the world. Should the whole world become one massive slum, a few who have garnered all the gold will still smugly tower over the rest.

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