All the Traps of Earth
As the summer wanes here at O.U.R. Ecovillage, we find our outdoor kitchen attracts large swarms of what are commonly called yellow-jackets. Maybe you have experienced something like this where you live. It is a part of the natural cycle of the changing season. Unlike honey bees, which store food for themselves in their hives, these insects have begun to run out of the food that the local environment normally provides, so they seek out the treasure-trove that humans tend to collect and cook in their kitchens. Honey and fruit are particular favorites.
Recently, one of our hearthkeepers named Zach devised several different types of passive traps to address the problem of the yellow-jackets. The best type is an open pie-pan filled with a little soapy water and a whole apple suspended above the center of the pan by means of a piece of wire which is itself anchored by some means to the pie-pan.
Here is how it works: The apple has one or more small slices removed to expose the flesh. The insects burrow into the flesh and consume what is for them a huge amount. They are so gorged that they are unable to fly away, and tumble into the soapy water, where they eventually drown.
Some of us now manage Zach’s traps by removing the dead insects and maintaining the soap. While I was doing this the other day, a thought occurred which I will now share with you.
This trap is a perfect symbol of the modern consumer culture that we are now increasingly aware threatens the existence of many living species, possibly including humans themselves.
The apple’s sweetness represents all the supposed wants and desires encouraged by advertising, attracting us to consume products, just as the insects seek to consume the apple. But there is so much to consume that, like the yellow jackets, we overdo it. We become obese, or ” couch potatoes”, or “computer geeks”, and end up owning too much stuff. It weighs us down both physically and spiritually and make us personally and collectively vulnerable to all sorts of environmental problems.
If we keep it up, we will meet an end not so different from the over-stuffed insects who tumble helplessly into the soapy water that becomes their final resting place.
That sad prospect is what motivates O.U.R. Ecovillage to seek better, healthier ways of living and relating.
We don’t want humanity to end up living and dying in nature’s equivalent of a roach motel.
By Keith ‘Kirk’ Schlesinger