Thursday, January 9, 2014

Woolly weather?

Do you, perchance, remember last October when we were talking about the woolly bear caterpiller. We never did sort out whether the size of the bands forecast a mild or harsh Winter. Well, despite the escape by the woolly bear we hoped we could overwinter, we have photographic proof that s/he had 4 brown bands +/-. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, between 5.3 and 5.6 brown bands foretell a mild Winter. There may be something to these old legends.

woolly bear with 4 brown bands
woolly bear with 4 brown bands  © harrington

Can you tell the weather's getting warmer and my spirits are rising on the thermals? We may have an actual January thaw.

The Center for Humans and Nature blog in the sidebar is part of a larger site. One of the recent pieces on the main site is by Nancy Lord, who lives in Alaska. She has a wonderful concluding paragraph that I want to share:
Most of all, the Earth needs stories. Stories, in whatever forms they might take in the twenty-first century, are as essential as they were in purely oral cultures for sharing what we know. In our information age, it’s not enough to know about the carbon cycle, solar technologies, and the rocks on Mars—although we need to know these things. We need the stories that tell ourselves about values, about how we might live with more skill, thought, and respect for all. Without such stories, we’ll be as finished as loser bear hunters.

Sometimes, winters like the one we're having end up in poems like Joy Harjo's. Spring thaw will surely come sometime after this Winter. But then, what will the next story tell us about our values?

Grace

By Joy Harjo 

for Darlene Wind and James Welch

I think of Wind and her wild ways the year we had nothing to lose and lost it anyway in the cursed country of the fox. We still talk about that winter, how the cold froze imaginary buffalo on the stuffed horizon of snowbanks. The haunting voices of the starved and mutilated broke fences, crashed our thermostat dreams, and we couldn’t stand it one more time.So once again we lost a winter in stubborn memory, walked through cheap apartment walls, skated through fields of ghosts into a town that never wanted us, in the epic search for grace.

Like Coyote, like Rabbit, we could not contain our terror and clowned our way through a season of false midnights. We had to swallow that town with laughter, so it would go down easy as honey. And one morning as the sun struggled to break ice, and our dreams had found us with coffee and pancakes in a truck stop along Highway 80, we found grace.

I could say grace was a woman with time on her hands, or a white buffalo escaped from memory. But in that dingy light it was a promise of balance. We once again understood the talk of animals, and spring was lean and hungry with the hope of children and corn.

I would like to say, with grace, we picked ourselves up and walked into the spring thaw. We didn’t; the next season was worse. You went home to Leech Lake to work with the tribe and I went south. And, Wind, I am still crazy. I know there is something larger than the memory of a dispossessed people. We have seen it.

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