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After the reintroduction of gray wolves
to Yellowstone and, as anticipated, their culling
of deer, trees grew beyond the deer stunt
of the midcentury. In their up reach
songbirds nested, who scattered
seed for underbrush, and in that cover
warrened snowshoe hare. Weasel and water shrew
returned, also vole, and came soon hawk
and falcon, bald eagle, kestrel, and with them
hawk shadow, falcon shadow. Eagle shade
and kestrel shade haunted newly-berried
runnels where mule deer no longer rummaged, cautious
as they were, now, of being surprised by wolves. Berries
brought bear, while undergrowth and willows, growing now
right down to the river, brought beavers,
who dam. Muskrats came to the dams, and tadpoles.
Came, too, the night song of the fathers
of tadpoles. With water striders, the dark
gray American dipper bobbed in fresh pools
of the river, and fish stayed, and the bear, who
fished, also culled deer fawns and to their kill scraps
came vulture and coyote, long gone in the region
until now, and their scat scattered seed, and more
trees, brush, and berries grew up along the river
that had run straight and so flooded but thus dammed,
compelled to meander, is less prone to overrun. Don’t
you tell me this is not the same as my story. All this
life born from one hungry animal, this whole,
new landscape, the course of the river changed,
I know this. I reintroduced myself to myself, this time
a mother. After which, nothing was ever the same.
Perfect tapestry of brown and white with a border of chicory and green.
This is a lovely documentary about being in deep relationship with the land and what it’s like to say goodbye. Most relationships have goodbyes in them, but we don’t often think about how to say goodbye to a place. It reminded me a little bit about having to say goodbye to my Little Bit of Earth when I moved from the DC area to up here in the mountains, although I didn’t rewild it.
I’d love to read your reactions in the comments section below.
British author Saci Lloyd and I walk through Epping Forest, an ancient royal hunting ground near her home in north London. She is wearing red trousers, a full-length coat, and a fur hat that looks like a cat curled in the sun on her head. “One day I was here and looked down,” she recalls, holding a bag of bread, “and I see the black wing of a crow in the grass.” Possibly a hundred cows surround us now. “There were crows all around me like this — and I heard loud caw caw caws — and so I moved a respectful distance away, and just watched. And I realized then that they were mourning and having a crow funeral. I watched one crow after another fly down and lament over that wing for half an hour.”
We toss the entourage of birds scraps of bread then set out on a meadow path towards a woodland. Sunlight splinters autumn clouds. “The crows are being sentinels now. But — ha ha! Look over there!” she says as a blue-winged covid darts from oak to oak. “This is a jay’s blue flash of magic. They are associated with Mercury, the messenger, because they go between two worlds. That’s what crows are, too. Messengers between two worlds.”
Picture found here.
Mrs. Whatsit is traveling today, but she’ll be back next week.
Speaking of which, she and her spouse love to travel. It’s one of the things that COVID took from them as, for the first time since I’ve known them, they stayed home all year. That was difficult, and, now, fully vaccinated, they’ve been looking forward to resuming their globe-trotting.
I’m a homebody, but I’ve been joyfully spending time with my family, socializing with old friends and new acquaintances, attending meetings in person (At a restaurant! With food I didn’t cook! And margaritas!) I went to an art exhibit which felt like a huge, quenching drink of cold water after a long, long thirst. I attended a meeting of the film club. I’ve started swimming at my gym. One of the things that attracted me to this community and convinced me to move here was the indoor lap pool. Then, as soon as I got moved in a settled, COVID hit. But swimming, thankfully, is like riding a bike. Once you learn, the muscle memory is always there.
But now the delta variant of COVID is raging through the country. Those of us who are fully vaccinated are very, very unlikely to be made so sick that we need to be intubated or that we’ll die. However, we can easily catch this very contagious variant and it can make us really sick. And it can give us long-haul COVID symptoms even after we’re “over ” the infection. And even if we catch it and are asymptomatic, we can spread it to others, including children too young to be vaccinated.
And so I’m back to masking wherever I go. I’m beginning to turn down some invitations, deciding not to participate in some activities, judging whether or not I’ll be able to maintain social distance at an event. If things continue to get worse, I’ll be forced back into isolation and, you know, I really don’t want that. I’m a true introvert, but an entire year of being completely on my own was quite enough. As I said to a friend this week, “Gee, that was a great four and a half months! Too bad it’s over.”
And I’m angry. I’m angry that this variant is spreading because a bunch of Trump-loving assholes and snotty-New-Age brats won’t get their damn shots. I’m angry that their stupidity may force me back into isolation. You were worried about the vaccine? Well we’ve had a seven-month experiment where millions of people all over the globe got vaccinated and are fine. And where millions of assholes who won’t get their shots are dead. So now go get your damn vaccine.
If you are able to be vaccinated, please go get your shots. They are free at your local pharmacy. Get your kids (currently 12 and up) vaccinated. Wear your masks. Socially distance. Wash your hands.
Here we go again. God for Harry, England, and St. George, I suppose.
Here’s Carol Christ reminiscing.
My Bed Shakes and I Assume the Ghosts Are Finally Getting Me
~ Su Cho
For Kia Xiong
But it’s just an earthquake in Indiana. I love this story
because of you. We met in high school summer gym
where we turned jeans into floatation devices and tallied
bowling scores by hand. We got close in AP English
when we admitted that we read Jane Eyre in one evening,
how we loved the teacher’s tape recording of Macbeth
because we really didn’t understand what was supposed
to be funny. Back then, we wanted to be rappers or doctors,
and now philanthropic EDM DJs in Vegas. We love to chug
coffee past 11 p.m. so we can shit a final time before
a night of dancing and waddling through snow in heels
we bought after we broke up with our boyfriends.
The older we get, we are always late. Like to the Odesza concert
you won radio tickets to, how we shivered underneath
fleece blankets covered in dog hair, the outfits we picked out
months before never seen in our blurry pictures. I am writing all this
to get to what I really want to say—you are the most faithful person
I know. You believe in prayer because you believe in ghosts,
in vengeful spirits because you’ve seen them. Once, you asked
if I thought you were silly for being so superstitious
and I said no—I pray when I am scared, the only time I take
in Jesus’s name I pray seriously. Me trusting my mouth and you,
for good measure, hanging a picture of Jesus above the bed,
a crucifix, and a Bible on your nightstand even though
we don’t read it anymore. Here, I try to conjure images
or metaphors of our selves but I can only remember
what we say to each other—isn’t it funny how every Asian girl we know
is engaged or about to be engaged to a white boy or
don’t trust white moms from Carmel because they voted
for Trump or we’d rather them smile at us while keeping their hate
to themselves or isn’t it funny we don’t go out anymore or this is better
than the drunk white boys who follow us to the car all the time
or after midnight or our mothers this our mothers that or—
Picture by the blogger. If you copy, please link back.
I recently read The Overstory by Richard Powers, a recent Pulitzer Prize winner. It took me longer to read than do most books because some parts of it are just so overwhelmingly sad — and real. The book examines the lives of a number of disparate people who are all, in one way or another, involved in trying to save old growth forests.
And, at times, the discussion of how timber companies are relentlessly cutting down every scrap of timber that they can, well, it’s enough to make you cry.
I don’t pretend to know the answer. I don’t know how you convince people to care so much for the world that their children and grandchildren will inhabit that they will change the way they do business. What I do know is that we have to try.
Have you ever had a relationship with a tree?
Picture found here.