Friday, September 9, 2016

Lingering Summer renews hope #phenology

I've been looking at the morning's news headlines and stock market numbers in hopes of finding something that would stop making me (more) grumpy. As I continued to see little but evidence of our stupidity, inhumanity and recalcitrance, sometimes all three combined, I glanced out the window toward the nectar feeder just when a humming bird arrived. The fact that one or two or more are still around, added to the monarch butterfly I saw yesterday, cheered me with a confirmation of Summer's lingering presence as it tapers down. An occasional glimpse of a dragonfly or damselfly, like those seen today and yesterday, also helps stretch the Summer season. My sense of "doom and gloom" got further diminished as I encountered a number of other reports, not from mainstream media, that also helped renew my belief in Hope in Dark Times.

late Summer hummer
late Summer hummer
Photo by J. Harrington

One of the folks I follow on Twitter has started a new blog, with the intriguing title singing the river, a phrase taken from a poem by one of my favorite poets. I'm looking forward to checking it out.

late Summer damselfly
late Summer damselfly
Photo by J. Harrington

Another river related item notes that progress is actually being made in improving the water quality of the St. Croix River, thanks to local initiatives by the Chisago County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Watershed Association, and Legacy funding. Gully erosion is being notably reduced. Lessons learned in that effort will now be applied to my very own Sunrise River watershed, which provides both a tributary and a source of pollutants to the St. Croix.

High Country News is publishing a series on small towns, Big Change, on "building rural communities to last. I'd love to see similar efforts in Appalachia for the coal miners there, as well as Minnesota's own Iron Range for the miners in the North Country who also keep hoping for a return to the "good old days." I've read reports that each of those mining-dependant areas is leaning toward voting for Trump. Although I'm becoming more and more disenchanted with the Democratic politicians' support of and reliance on global capitalism and its funding, I'm not about to buy a Republican pig in a poke. Be nice if the Blue-Green Alliance, or something like that, would bring together labor and environmental interests into an alternative political party to forge a truly new economy focused on local rather than global interests and protecting the local environment on which we all depend.

Seasonal change is often disruptive and destructive when it happens too abruptly and radically. The same can be said for political and economic change. Holding on desperately to what we had when the climate, politically and actually, has already shifted isn't likely to give us the food, shelter and community we need for a shared and successful future.

Trying to Name What Doesn’t Change


By Naomi Shihab Nye


Roselva says the only thing that doesn’t change
is train tracks. She’s sure of it.
The train changes, or the weeds that grow up spidery
by the side, but not the tracks.
I’ve watched one for three years, she says,
and it doesn’t curve, doesn’t break, doesn’t grow.

Peter isn’t sure. He saw an abandoned track
near Sabinas, Mexico, and says a track without a train
is a changed track. The metal wasn’t shiny anymore.
The wood was split and some of the ties were gone.

Every Tuesday on Morales Street
butchers crack the necks of a hundred hens.
The widow in the tilted house
spices her soup with cinnamon.
Ask her what doesn’t change.

Stars explode.
The rose curls up as if there is fire in the petals.
The cat who knew me is buried under the bush.

The train whistle still wails its ancient sound
but when it goes away, shrinking back
from the walls of the brain,
it takes something different with it every time.


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