By Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin
This is an excerpt from Acres U.S.A. original book, In the Shadow of Green Man, written by Reginald Haslett-Marroquin. Copyright 2017. Softcover. 208 pages. $20.00 regularly priced. SALE PRICE $15.00.
The fading twilight was filled with laughter and songs and that night Green Man walked through the cornfields under strange stars.
“I did,” Green Man said. “Now what?”
“Now the real work begins,” the mountain replied, “if you want to save your home.”
“I do,” Green Man said, “but I don’t know how.”
“Everything is connected Green Man,” the mountain said. “I can feel the oldest betrayals and crimes against the earth shivering up through my roots. Decisions etched in the stone of ages are passed on to the people of this moment and to their children. That is what you face, a legacy of poor choices.”
“What do you mean?” Green Man said.
“The rain that fed your forest traveled on the wind from the sea for time out of time, but the winds have changed. I do not know why. The wind reaches me with barely a whisper now…”
“So what can I do?” Green Man said.
“You? You’re Green Man—you can run down the wind and ask her why she doesn’t blow so strong. I called you up here because of all the creatures in this world, you are the one that never gives up. If you can’t do the impossible then no one can.” The mountain sighed, and the stones trembled beneath Green Man’s feet.
“I’ll do what I can,” Green Man said, “but I don’t know how to find the wind.”
“Look,” the mountain said, and held out his hands. They were cracked and gray, and as the thin wind whispered across them his hands dissolved into fine dust. Soon Green Man found the dust all around him as the old man wore away to nothing. It swirled like a ribbon and flowed up and was gone.
“I don’t understand,” Green Man said.
“Everything is a cycle,” the mountain spoke with his all-encompassing voice. “Watch the sea.”
Green Man looked out over the ocean, and at last he saw a flash of gray and silver touch down far across the water. “How can I get there?” he said.
“You must find a way,” the mountain replied.
So Green Man started down the mountainside and walked through his dying forest. A few animals watched him go, or followed him for a time, but when they spoke all Green Man could do was shake his head and keep going.
At last he reached the sea, and dipping his hands into the water he found that he couldn’t feel a thing beyond the warm brine. He walked up the beach and pulled down several young trees that he lashed together with rope. Above him he saw Vulture circling, but she didn’t come down to talk to him. At last, Green Man pushed out to sea.
He caught the retreating tide and rode it out onto a still ocean. Without a strong wind the water was glassy and Green Man lay on his raft and paddled with his hands. He moved achingly slowly and the sun roasted his back like tree nuts in a fire. Whenever he worried that he had lost his way he would look up and see the mountain dust circling, an ever-narrowing thread leading him on.
That night something moved in the deep and Green Man drew his arms and legs onto the raft and hoped that it would not see him. And so he slept.
In the morning, by chance or some plan, his little boat ran aground on an alien island dusted with mountain earth. Green Man stood on the beach awhile and looked around. The island was small, but covered in shipwrecks, in the flotsam and jetsam of ages past. There were animals too, lost-looking turtles and the strange serpents that made their homes in the deep.
He didn’t notice the tide pluck his raft up and wash it out to sea.
“Hello?” Green Man called, picking his way through the debris on the beach, “I seek the wind.”
“Of course you do,” a voice whispered back. “Why do you think I brought you here? The mountain told me to receive you.”
“If the mountain can speak to you, why did he send me?”
“Because the mountain is, and always will be. You are young and hurting, the child of men, child of earth,” the wind laughed quietly. “He thought that I might pity you.”
“Why don’t you blow so strongly anymore?” Green Man said. “Why don’t you carry water to the forests?”
“I am choked,” the wind said, “by the smoke of many fires. I will not blow where I am not wanted.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that the humans do their best to still me. Why should I carry water for them? Or for you, my poor earth-child?”
“Without you, trees and animals are dying. We need you more than the people in their cities could possibly know,” Green Man said. “Come back for us.”
“Everything is connected,” the wind said. “The people in their cities eat food from your forests. Besides, it is too hard to gust weighed down as I am with garbage.”
“What can I do,” Green Man asked, “to make you blow again?”
“Nothing,” the wind said. “To visit the shore is to make myself unclean with the smoke and soot of factories and I will have no more of it.
“What if I could clean you?” Green Man said. “I know the trees and creatures of the forest. The monkeys would pick the ash from you just like they pick insects off of each other.”
“Too little,” the wind said, “and too late.”
“Let me try,” Green Man insisted, “or else I will die on your island and clutter it even further.”
“Very well,” the wind said, “I will carry you to shore with as much dust as I can carry. If your forest can scrub me clean, then I will carry you water once again.
And so she did. When Green Man landed on the beach, he ran to the rainforest, stretching his wits out ahead of him, feeling for every root, leaf and flower that would answer to his will. Bit by bit he wove it all into a net.
When the wind passed through the rainforest, the dust and dirt and grime caught on the leaves and dropped to the ground. Green Man heard a faint, “Thank you,” as the wind lifted up, free from her burdens.
It wasn’t too much longer until rain came back to the forest, and the trees drank in life, and the animals played once more. But Green Man never took his world for granted ever again; the impermanence of it all frightened and thrilled him.
Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin is the principal architect of the innovative poultry-centered regenerative agriculture model that is at the heart of Main Street Project’s work. His focus is on the development of multi-level strategies for building regenerative food and agriculture systems that deliver social, economic and ecological benefits. He leads Main Street Project’s engineering and design work and currently oversees the implementation of restorative blueprints for communities in the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala. He is also leading explorations in Haiti, Colombia, and Africa.
A native Guatemalan, he received his agronomy degree from the Central National School of Agriculture, studied at the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala and graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis. He has been involved in numerous fair trade and development projects. He lives in Minnesota with his wife Amy and their children William, Ana Nicktae and Lars Decarolo.