October 2014
Wild Rose Farm
North Copple Lane
Dix, Illinois
N38.454222 W089.036464

In ancient mythology, Midas is given the power to turn everything he touches into gold, which makes him a very rich man. However, when he kisses his beloved daughter, she too turns into the cold, hard, valuable metal. This cairn uses the Midas story as a cautionary tale. As motionless as Midas’ daughter, the cairn sits on a tumble of tree trunks in the midst of life-sustaining natural processes. A clean breeze blows leaves from the oxygen–producing trees, and a bright fall sun illuminates yellow leaves as they flutter from the high treetops onto the dark, flowing water of the Big Muddy River.

Although this particular landscape is under no immediate threat of being permanently transformed into cold, hard cash by reckless development, this cairn symbolizes the choices that must be made between stimulating temporary economic prosperity or maintaining the value of natural environments. We recognize that clean streams support diverse plant and animal life and that the surrounding trees clean the air and retain water. The cairn also alerts us that these functioning ecosystems provide places for humans to discover, contemplate, and enjoy nature’s pleasures, but only so long as we forestall development’s Midas touch.