Thursday, January 23, 2014

Northern Minnesota Legacy?

Holding aside the ridiculously cold weather, this week continues to deliver pleasant surprises. One of my favorite authors, Scott Russell Sanders (who very kindly signed my copy of one of his books when we met at the Nature and Environmental Writing Conference pit on by The Loft Literary Center in September 2012) has a new book, a novel by the title of Divine Animal [A story of healing, for the grandchildren], that's just been published. He's made the ebook version available for free. While Scott and I share a preference for books printed on paper, I want to see what he has to say "right now" so I've added an ebook reader to my laptop and am through the first chapter. Thank you, Scott, for your wisdom and generosity. He's one of several very talented souls from Indiana that my better half and I know, respect and enjoy. Others include Krista Detor (Flat Earth Diary) and Carrie Newcomber.

Audubon Northwoods, writing conference locale
Audubon Northwoods, writing conference locale   © harrington
Another recent find is a free, downloadable, version of Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation text book. I was looking through that this morning, particularly the section on mining and sustainability. (You can guess why.) According to the table on page 233 of the PDF, world reserves of Copper are estimated to be 39 years and Nickel isn't much better at 49 years, assuming today's economic viability. The book also mentions the way we've been substituting things like glass fiber for copper. I wonder what the implications of such economics and substitutions might be for the longer term economic viability of international mining companies. What kind of world do we want to leave our children? What kind of legacy do we want to leave? Is a 20 to 40 year resource life the way to a sustainable Iron Range for Minnesota's families, those living there now and their children? Is a two generation horizon good enough for them (and us) in the 21st century when the Iroquois focused out seven generations? Just askin!

To return to where we started today, John Crowe Ransom appears to have been familiar with weather like ours.

Winter Remembered

By John Crowe Ransom 

Two evils, monstrous either one apart,
Possessed me, and were long and loath at going:   
A cry of Absence, Absence, in the heart,   
And in the wood the furious winter blowing.

Think not, when fire was bright upon my bricks,   
And past the tight boards hardly a wind could enter,   
I glowed like them, the simple burning sticks,   
Far from my cause, my proper heat and center.

Better to walk forth in the frozen air
And wash my wound in the snows; that would be healing;   
Because my heart would throb less painful there,   
Being caked with cold, and past the smart of feeling.

And where I walked, the murderous winter blast   
Would have this body bowed, these eyeballs streaming,   
And though I think this heart’s blood froze not fast   
It ran too small to spare one drop for dreaming.

Dear love, these fingers that had known your touch,   
And tied our separate forces first together,
Were ten poor idiot fingers not worth much,   
Ten frozen parsnips hanging in the weather.

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