Venus in a red oak tree

It’s 8 pm at the Delta outpost of the Resilience Project.  The lawn chair constellation, called Scorpio by some, is shining brightly in the Southern sky.  Coyotes are howling.  it’s a beautiful crisp fall night.  Cassiopia forms a double-u above the North Star.  We’ll have to wait a few more days until Venus becomes the Evening Star.  Right now she’s the Morning Star (not to be confused with the eponymous town near Meadowcreek where our friend has a buffalo ranch). Interesting that the Babylonians knew Venus was both the Morning and Evening Star.  The knowledge was lost on the early Greeks who conquered Babylon.  Only the later Hellenistic Greeks rediscovered the fact.  Makes you wonder what knowledge ancient societies had which we have never recovered.

We’ve eaten well after working hard all afternoon.  Four of us have come here to work on the Delta office and land. For those not used to it, the Delta is a forbidding place.  Mile after mile of monoculture.  Our office is on five acres surrounded on three sides by corn, soybeans and rice depending on the year.  Organic matter has been depleted in these fields after nearly a hundred years of increasingly intensive row crop production.  Our office site has never been plowed.  It’s the home to huge old oaks.  The soil is black and its surface stands at least six inches higher than the fields around it.  The organic matter in the surrounding fields, carbon fixed over eons, has been volatilized by over-cultivation.  The life giving soil organisms have been murdered by fertillizers and pesticides.

These industrial agriculture fields appear white as death after drying out.  We won’t fix that problem today, though.

The office foundation needs work. One of the oaks has died and needs to be cut down.  It threatens to fall on the power and electric lines to the main barn.

earth goddessA mass of dozens of inch thick vines have strangled and starved the old oak.  They swarm up its trunk twenty five feet into the air.  Honeysuckle is a sweet and delicate flower. but its vines can be killers, suffocators.  And they sure are in the way when we need to cut the tree inside.  Our best lumberjack cut away the vines and felled the old oak neatly away from the lines.

The inner core of the oak is a deep mahogany with fascinating patterns.  Huge knobs make the trunk useless for lumber but great for wood sculpture.  We don’t really have time to whittle it into something beautiful.  But, It’s too intriguing to use for firewood.  And it’s dense and hard as rock.

When oak dries it becomes harder and harder.  Not as hard as Osage orange, but hard enough that even pounding a nail in it is tough.  The chainsaw refuses to cut it.  We should take that as a sign.

We should save the main trunk and stand it on end in the barn.  Someday we won’t have better things to do.  Making art is not what we are up to these days.  But this piece of oak trunk beckons us.  It will be incredibly enticing to have it standing in the barn waiting for our knives and gouges and mallets.  We can imagine all sorts of figures taking shape in it. Venus comes to mind.

One of the oldest statues ever discovered depicts an obese woman with swollen breasts. The Willendorf Venus was discovered in Austria, and is 26,000 years old. Some feel It is highly unlikely that any member of an ancient society would be so overfed as to be obese.  Such analysts are just too brainwashed by today’s mainstream fixation on skinny women.  Skinny women are good for magazines, but not for life, as my Ukrainian friend says.

Most likely the statue is not just symbolic but representative of an ideal form: a mother figure worshiped by the hunter-gatherers who carved her from stone.

Such rotund figurines are present at many ancient sites, especially in today’s Ukraine where ancestors of all Northwestern Europeans rode out the ice age on the Crimean peninsula.  They suggest that the earliest-known religious practices were related to the worship of femininity.  And the goddess they worshiped did not have the emaciated look favored by 21st century women indoctrinated in modern culture.  Fat women were favored in many ancient cultures.  Only the rich and idle could become that fat.  At least one who did was worshiped.

Today its not so hard to become fat.  Immense, obese women who look like this Venus are more likely to be stereotyped as loud-mouth, stupid, welfare queens than as goddesses.  But we can almost see a Willendorf Venus in this trunk.

So we can’t bear to cut into it.  Anyway, both our chain saws refused to work.  So we descended on the foundation while we decided what to do with the trunk.  I think the decision is pretty much made.

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