Thursday, August 20, 2015

The urge for going [local]

The sun is playing peek-a-boo today. It's not raining. Lots of birds are piling in on the feeders. Many are clearly young of the year. Often, the male goldfinches fly like they've been eating fermented berries. Maybe they have. Regardless of what the calendar says, or whatever heat wave the upcoming state fair may unleash on us, there's a hint of season change in today's cooler breeze and sunlight that's more warm than hot at midday. Our incipient migrants are starting to get The Urge for Going.

nuthatch and male goldfinch at feeder
nuthatch and male goldfinch at feeder
Photo by J. Harrington

Going back in time, about a year ago we were in the midst of wedding preparations with the Daughter Person and Son-In-Law 2B, I was in the middle stages of a writing project that I still haven't got a handle on, and the Better Half and I took a day trip to the NorthWoods Art Fair in Hackensack, at which one of my poems earned a "Popular Choice" award, followed shortly thereafter by a separate trip of several days to Duluth. This Summer, allowing for a few mishaps, has been less busy. I could do with more of that. Maybe I'll actually make some real progress on my poetry and photography, instead of fiddling around the edges.

popular choice poem options & ballot box
popular choice poem options & ballot box
Photo by J. Harrington

I've been trying to sort out where and how bioregionalism fits with my ideas of Minnesota's sustainable future. Part of it has to do with (re)building the local food system infrastructure. I stumbled onto a wonderful resource when I attended the Regional Arts Summit at the UMN campus in Morris back in June. At an event in the City of Morris, I saw some great local food posters that were listed as being from the Lexicon of Food, which has some very useful concepts such as "connected markets," "direct trade" compared to "fair trade" and "community development premium" that I'm thinking could help make other local systems, such as housing, or art, more sustainable. I'm not sure yet whether this will help my poetry project, but, other than using my time, it's not hurting it and it has once again taught me that I can't anticipate all the dots that need connecting. Donella Meadows wrote a wonderful essay on that, and related ideas, called Dancing with Systems (by the way, I'm still recovering from spending too many years of my life as the classic Type A, control freak described in the first few paragraphs).

Getting Where We're Going


By John Brehm

Surfeit of distance and the wracked mind waiting,
nipping at itself, snarling inwardly at strangers.
If I had a car in this town I'd
rig it up with a rear bumper horn,
something to blast back at the jackasses
who honk the second the light turns green.
If you could gather up all the hornhonks
of just one day in New York City,
tie them together in a big brassy knot
high above the city and honk
them all at once it would shiver
the skyscrapers to nothingness, as if
they were made of sand, and usher
in the Second Coming. Christ would descend
from the sky wincing with his fingers
in his ears and judge us all
insane. Who'd want people like us
up there yelling at each other, trashing
the cloudy, angelic streets with our
candywrappers and newspapers and coffeecups?
Besides, we'd still be waiting for   
the next thing to happen in Heaven,
the next violin concerto or cotton candy
festival or breathtaking vista to open
beneath our feet, and thinking this place
isn't quite what it's cracked up to be,
and why in hell does everybody
want to get here? We'd still be
waiting for someone else to come
and make us happy, staring
through whatever's in front of us,
cursing the light that never seems to change.


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