Tag Archives: Elements

Water Wars

Water Wars: Coming Soon to a Planet Near You.

Know what Enron was attempting to commoditize just before it went bankrupt? Starts with an “H” and ends with “2o.” If you think that permanently stopped the move to privatize the world’s water resources, I have a few Great Lakes that I’d like to sell you.

My friend, the ever brilliant Atrios, occasionally puts up a post saying he just can’t imagine what will happen when a major city runs out of water. And I keep telling him what will happen: poor people will first riot, will then become willing slaves in return for minimal water rations, and will then die in large numbers. Rich people will keep watering their lawns and golf courses will truck in water stolen from some poor area. Christian preachers will insist that the lack of water is their god’s sign that he’s angry about gay marriage, abortion, women’s rights, etc., etc., etc. Eventually, only the very rich, and then only the uber rich, and then only the ultra rich will have water and, then, well, we all know what happened to the Mayans, the Pueblo people of Chaco canyon, the Bronze Age Aegean.

There are too many people and not enough planet. Nicely done, Catholic Church. I’m blaming Sao Paulo all on you.

hat tip to the Greenman for encouraging me to write about this.

Wednesday Poetry Blogging


The Wind

~Dafydd ap Gwilym (Translated By Gwyneth Lewis)

Skywind, skillful disorder,
Strong tumult walking over there,
Wondrous man, rowdy-sounding,
World hero, with neither foot nor wing.
Yeast in cloud loaves, you were thrown out
Of  sky’s pantry, with not one foot,
How swiftly you run, and so well
This moment above the high hill.

Tell me, north wind of the cwm,
Your route, reliable hymn.
Over the lengths of  the world you fly,
Tonight, hill weather, please stay high,
Ah man, go over Upper Aeron
Be lovely and cool, stay in clear tune.
Don’t hang about or let that maniac,
Litigious Little Bow, hold you back,
He’s poisonous. Society
And its goods are closed to me.

Thief  of  nests, though you winnow leaves
No one accuses you, nor impedes
You, no band of men, nor magistrate’s hand,
Nor blue blade, nor flood, nor rain.
Indeed, no son of  man can kill you,
Fire won’t burn nor treason harm you.
You shall not drown, as you’re aware,
You’re never stuck, you’re angle-less air.
No need of  swift horse to get about,
Nor bridge over water, nor any boat.
No officer or force will hand you over
To court for fingering treetop feathers.
Sight cannot see you, wide-open den,
But thousands hear you, nest of   great rain.

You are God’s grace across the world,
The roar when breaking tops of oaks are hurled,
You hang clouds’ notes in heavens’ score
And dance athletically over moors
Dry-humored, clever creature,
Over clouds’ stepping-stones you travel far,
Archer on fields of snow up high,
Disperser of rubbish piles in loud cries.
Storm that’s stirring up the sea
Randy surfer where land meets sea.
Bold poet, rhyming snowdrifts you are,
Sower, scatterer of  leaves you are,
Clown of peaks, you get off scot-free,
Hurler of mad-masted, foaming sea.

I was lost once I felt desire
For Morfudd of the golden hair.
A girl has caused my disgrace,
Run up to her father’s house,
Knock on the door, make him open
To my messenger before the dawn,
Find her if there’s any way,
Give song to the voice of  my sigh.
You come from unsullied stars,
Tell my noble, generous her:
For as long as I’m alive
I will be her loyal slave.
My face without her’s a mess
If it’s true she’s not been faithless.

Go up high, see the one who’s white,
Go down below, sky’s favorite.
Go to Morfudd Llwyd the fair,
Come back safe, wealth of the air.

Picture found here.


It’s getting cold here in Columbia’s District! My Japanese Maples are fire-engine red, vermillion, the exact red of the spark of fire inside a goblet of merlot. We’re all going to be wanting to spend more time gathered around the fire. Here’s some music for viewing Japanese Maples and for staying warm.

Calling the Elements with a Seven-Year Old


G/Son: Nonna! Wait! It’s not Fire in the South and Water in the West. It’s Water in the South and Fire in the West.

Nonna: No, I’ve been doing this since before you were born and it’s Fire in the South and Water in the West.

G/Son: No, Nonna, because, just think! Texas and Mexico are west of us and they’re very hot. So it should be Water in the South and Fire in the West.

Nonna: OK, we can do it that way.

I wouldn’t mind so much if I didn’t have to hear EVERY SINGLE ONE of my ancestors laughing so hard they have to hold their stomachs.

Picture found here.

Wednesday Poetry Blogging


The Wild Swans at Coole

~ William Butler Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

(You can find a lovely audio of the poem at the Poetry Foundation if you like to listen to your poetry.)

No one knows for sure (and that’s enough, alone, to make me cry), but there’s some indication that the word “Potomac” means “River of Swans.” It’s what I like to believe. I drive every morning and every evening past the beautiful Potomac, past the Three Sisters — three tiny islands that sit just between Teddy Roosevelt Island and the Virginia shore — just before the river turns a large, lovely, lazy bend. I’ve never seen a swan there. I’ve seen an eagle, sea gulls, ducks, many Canada geese, and hawks, but no swans. I’m jealous of Yeats.

What’s Autumn like in your watershed?

The Condition of Quiet that Is the Condition of Vision


Some French writer that I read when I was a boy, said that the desert went into the heart of the Jews in their wanderings and made them what they are. I cannot remember by what argument he proved them to be even yet the indestructible children of earth, but it may well bet hat the elements have their children. If we knew the Fire Worshipers better we might find that their centuries of pious observance have been rewarded, and that the fire has given them a little of its nature; and I am certain that the water, the water of the seas and of lakes and of mist and rain, has all but made the Irish after its image. Images form themselves in our minds perpetually as if they were reflected in some pool. We gave ourselves up in old times to mythology, and saw the Gods everywhere. We talked to them face to face, and the stories of that communion are so many that I think they outnumber all the like stories of all the rest of Europe. Even today our country people speak with the dead and with some who perhaps have never died as we understand death; and even our educated people pass without great difficulty into the condition of quiet that is the condition of vision. We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet. Did not the wise Porphyry think that all souls come to be born because of water, and that “even the generation of images in the mind is from water”?

From The Celtic Twilight by William Butler Yeats

Picture found here.

Elements: Earth

What’s the most powerful invocation of Earth that you’ve ever heard?

Elements: Water

When you call the Element of Water, do you call salt or fresh? Frozen, liquid, or steam? Hot or cold?

Elements: Fire

How will you call the Element of Fire next time?

Elements: Air

This looks so much like ballet to me.

Does this video change anything about the way that you’ll call the Element of Air next time?