The Church Elders

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES IT IS A FINE DAY, with a great dome of blue over the Deacon Pines. These church elders have seen many a spring day, and this one is as fine as any of them. The bloodroots hold onto the last of their snow-white blossoms, while the trout lilies are just about to bloom. The fiddlehead ferns are poking their heads into the sunlight, and secret patches of showy orchis do the same.

The Mississippi migrators—buffleheads and scaup and goldeneyes—have mostly moved on to the north, as have the sweet-singing white-throated sparrows. Our first warblers—the yellow-rumps—are here. The Fox Family cavort about on the Church grounds, and many other congregation members are busy with family plans and preparations as well.

Of particular interest to the Caretakers are the bald eagle pair tending their brand new nest and eggs near the Church in a tall and stately pine. We watch them daily and await the appearance of young ones. In the 1960s the number of nesting pairs in the U. S. was about 400. It is now over 10,000. In Minnesota alone over 2,000 (we have the 3rd highest population.) In Voyageurs Park where we Caretakers have a summer cabin, the number of nesting pairs in 1975 was 6. They produced one fledgling. As of 2015, there were 42 breeding pairs and 37 fledglings.

This wonderful and dramatic success story is the result of public policy based on science, most notably the discontinuance of DDT, which ruined the shells of these apex birds of prey. Science did not use to be a matter of partisan politics. There was a time when the word of 99% of the world’s scientists on a subject like a climate change could be taken by all concerned as a fairly established fact. No longer. Now even the wearing of masks in public places—to protect one another and the front line checkout workers and others from a pandemic—is a partisan ‘controversy’ that is, according to some ‘liberty-loving’ Americans, not needed, and causes them to carry long guns and automatic weapons to defend their rights.

Well. Here at the Church O’ The Pines we eagles and woodchucks, foxes, and caretakers, take a dim view of such nonsense. We believe in legend and myth and story, in gospel and faith and hope and matters of the spirit; but we also believe in science. Especially as it helps some of us to still exist and to nest in the Deacon Pines. Or to go to the grocery store and wear a mask, and hopefully lessen the load on ER staff and medical professionals in the nation’s hospitals. But that is just the view from here. We could be wrong, and there might be very strong arguments for denying science, for failing to protect our friends and neighbors at the sacrifice of a tiny speck of ‘liberty.’ But we have eagle-eye vision—some of us—and we doubt it.

In any case, all here at our humble church wish you blue skies, warm breezes, a large fish brought by your mate from the nearby river, and Good Sabbath.

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