It All Turns On Affection


This week, Thursday, November 12, I go before the City of Albuquerque to begin the work of collaboration towards a pollinator friendly city. The heads of all departments that apply chemicals will be present. Parks and Rec, Open Space, Environmental Health, and Solid Waste.

It is daunting and hopeful. I, along with the President of the NM Beekeepers Association, a Bernalillo County Extension horticulturist, and a consultant from About Listening will begin the journey of a thousand miles, by taking this single step together.

I ask you, the reader, to light a candle and shine some goodwill on us this Thursday, 10am-noon.

Wendell Berry, the great writer poet and farmer gave a lecture at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It was entitled: “It All Turns on Affection” , based upon E.M. Forster’s novel and movie, Howard’s End.

In his speech, Berry told about his grandfather’s great love of that Kentucky land he nurtured back to health and hung onto during the Great Depression. He would’ve lost it if Berry’s father, a lawyer, hadn’t fronted the money to save it.

Berry talks about “boomers” and “stickers”.  He got those words from Wallace Stegner, an important mentor.  Boomers are those who pillage and run…make a killing and end up on easy street“. This might have originally been a certain kind of person with ambition and the willingness to step on as many heads possible to get to the top. But, in today’s world, it seems that those persons have now been swallowed up or subsumed into a huge machinery of multi-national conglomerates intent on the bottom line of profit.

Stickers on the other hand, are those who “settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made in it.” Stickers, according to Berry, are motivated by affection and the life they love, hoping to preserve the land and remain upon it. This is in stark contrast to a motivation of greed, desire for money, property and power.  (It All Turns On Affection, NEH 41st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, April 23, 2012, p.6) We often think of stickers as conservative “country bumpkins” stuck in rural quagmires. Yet, we owe them a debt of gratitude for our food. And for preserving land.

Berry’s lecture reminds me that if I go before a committee with my guns blazing, filled with political rhetoric and threats, I will only sow discord. I hope to speak instead from my heart—one full of affection and gratitude not only for the bees, but for all of life. Including humans.

Meanwhile.  May I grow only more sticker-like in my affinity for my community of insects and soils, trees and plants, water and air here in my little postage sized backyard. May they become more like kin whom I would protect at any cost.

I have lived here for a mere 12 years. My husband has lived on this piece of earth for 30 years continuously. After 10 years of blood, sweat and tears, we mechanically pulled out the bermuda grass, hauled away the landscape of rocks, contoured the land and created swales, finally planting food for our pollinators. It’s a start towards humbly taking our place in this land community that was formed billions of years before we got here.

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948),land conservationist, scientist, forester, writer, wrote, ‘In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it”. (Berry, Wendell, “It All Turns on Affection“. NEH 41st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, April 23, 2012, p. 15)

May it be so.

6 thoughts on “It All Turns On Affection

  1. Thank you for letting us know your where abouts on Thursday. Of course, we will be beaming positive thoughts in your direction from down the road in Santa Fe. I’m so grateful to read your words, and know we share a ‘call,’ for nature connection and caring about lands and creatures in our surrounds. I’m actively inquiring and learning about the soil make-up on my parent’s farm in eastern NC, land that I will eventually inherit. My dream is to help in replanting of trees on the wooded part of the farm….help with the earth’s tree canopy. W. Berry…a soul brother…


  2. Anita, I’ll think of you on Thursday. Your approach of speaking from the heart sounds so good, and you are good at doing that. Your decision to do so reminds me that the means we use must fit the ends we desire. Also the goal of making Albuquerque a pollinator friendly city would fit with the goals of the Albuquerque Transition Town group, so if you need more support, they would be a good group to contact. Thanks for your writings and your work.


    • thank you so much M.J. I am so grateful that you are an ally. Transition Town would be a great group to work with. Thanks for that! Hope you are well in all ways. Thanks for bringing such good stuff to AMC during this season!


  3. Thanks once again, Anita, for sharing your insights and the insights of the wise that have gone before us. Thanks also for being an advocate for our kin, the bees. WE ARE THE ONES!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s