Sunday, August 14, 2016

Permeable boundaries #phenology

One of my favorite songwriters, Leonard Cohen, once wrote, as part of the chorus to his song Anthem,
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Another favorite, originally discovered by the Better Half, is Carrie Newcomer, whose recent production of a CD, plus a book of poems and essays, are each entitled A Permeable Life. The eponymous poem includes this perspective, which I find enchantingly similar to Cohen's:
I want to leave enough room in my heart
For the unexpected,
For the mistake that becomes knowing,
For knowing that becomes wonder,
For wonder that makes everything porous,
Allowing in and out
All available light.
Such looseness used to be anathema to me, rigorous and analytical as I frequently am (look up Type A personality). As I get more and more into phenology and poetry, I'm starting to come around to see things as Cohen and Newcomer and similar, well-grounded others have. All of which leads to some explorations about the meaning of "local" and how that relates to phenology. Minnesota's "local" plants are widespread.

The food co-op to which we belong recently announced in its newsletter that their definition of a local food system includes the five state area centered on Minnesota and includes Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota. Although this shares some overlap with our "shared species," my initial reaction was to compare that statement with my understanding of bioregions, watersheds, local farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture farms and other concepts related to food sheds. It certainly covered more territory than a 100 mile diet allows for. But did that make it "wrong?" How large were the territories occupied by the Lakota and Ojibwe bands before European "settlement" restricted indigenous peoples to reservations?

The 2015 Wisconsin Wildlife phenology calendar notes:
"Hopkins Law The dates in this calendar correspond to data collected primarily in southern Wisconsin. To apply these dates to a different area, apply Hopkins Law, which states that phenological events vary at the rate of 1 day for each 15 minutes of latitude, 1.25 days for each degree of longitude, and 1 day for each 100 feet of altitude."
Another source cautions about the difficulty of apply Hopkins Law. This brings us back to the opening paragraphs. I want at least a better working definition of "local" than seems readily available. I'm becoming increasingly permeable to accepting that it may be necessary, and beneficial, to accept more than one, or to work on a set of nested definitions. In fact, we may have to apply more than a little poetic license to arrive at any satisfactory concept(s), but the journey should be enlightening. Any thoughts you want to share?

Letter to the Local Police

By June Jordan

Dear Sirs:

I have been enjoying the law and order of our
community throughout the past three months since
my wife and I, our two cats, and miscellaneous
photographs of the six grandchildren belonging to
our previous neighbors (with whom we were very
close) arrived in Saratoga Springs which is clearly
prospering under your custody

Indeed, until yesterday afternoon and despite my
vigilant casting about, I have been unable to discover
a single instance of reasons for public-spirited concern,
much less complaint

You may easily appreciate, then, how it is that
I write to your office, at this date, with utmost
regret for the lamentable circumstances that force
my hand

Speaking directly to the issue of the moment:

I have encountered a regular profusion of certain
unidentified roses, growing to no discernible purpose,
and according to no perceptible control, approximately
one quarter mile west of the Northway, on the southern

To be specific, there are practically thousands of
the aforementioned abiding in perpetual near riot
of wild behavior, indiscriminate coloring, and only
the Good Lord Himself can say what diverse soliciting
of promiscuous cross-fertilization

As I say, these roses, no matter what the apparent
background, training, tropistic tendencies, age,
or color, do not demonstrate the least inclination
toward categorization, specified allegiance, resolute
preference, consideration of the needs of others, or
any other minimal traits of decency

May I point out that I did not assiduously seek out
this colony, as it were, and that these certain
unidentified roses remain open to viewing even by
children, with or without suitable supervision

(My wife asks me to append a note as regards the
seasonal but nevertheless seriously licentious
phenomenon of honeysuckle under the moon that one may
apprehend at the corner of Nelson and Main

However, I have recommended that she undertake direct
correspondence with you, as regards this: yet
another civic disturbance in our midst)

I am confident that you will devise and pursue
appropriate legal response to the roses in question
If I may aid your efforts in this respect, please
do not hesitate to call me into consultation

Respectfully yours,

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.