Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bioregional druidry and #phenology

Late this morning I noticed some examples of Spring impending, not many, but enough to raise my hopes. Oak leaves were dropping from trees and sailing on the Winter winds. My suspicion is that this year's oak leaf buds are starting to swell, loosening the grip of last year's leaf stems.

oak leaves with wasps' nest in Winter
oak leaves with wasps' nest in Winter
Photo by J. Harrington

I may have once known that oaks hold a special place in Celtic culture, but was pleased to be reminded as I read Celtic Myths last night. That knowledge, plus the number of oaks on our property, helps tie a part of my ancestry with which I strongly identify to the place where I've lived for a generation or so. In turn, that makes home feel more like HOME.

dragonfly, no jar
Photo by J. Harrington

Refreshing my knowledge of human history, especially Celts and Romans, also provides an improved perspective on the current madness in our nation's capital. That too shall pass, as long as we manage to avoid destroying earth's underlying fertility, magic and it's linkage to our own spirituality. Spring, so far, has always brought the renewal of life, followed byAutumn, a season of life's diminution, just as in a Circle Game. I think I'll add to my bucket list for next Summer trying to catch a dragonfly, or a firefly if one can be found, inside a jar. Maybe that will help counter the fact that it's well past time for me to drag my feet to slow the circle down.

A Brief History of the Passenger Pigeon

By Lynn Pedersen

Not to be confused with messenger pigeons, birds sent behind enemy lines in war, but think passengers as in birds carrying suitcases, sharing a berth on a train, or traveling in bamboo cages on a ship, always migrating on a one-way to extinction. How would extinction look on a graph? A steady climb, or a plateau, then a precipitous cliff at the dawn of humans?

Nesting grounds eight hundred square miles in area. Skies swollen with darkening multitudes. Days and days of unbroken flocks passing over. Ectopistes migratorius.

And the last of the species, Martha, named for Martha Washington, dies in a cage in 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Forget clemency. We are the worst kind of predator, not even deliberate in our destruction. Our killing happens à la carte, on the side (side of Dodo?).

And because the nineteenth century did not enlist a battlefield artist for extinctions, there are no official witnesses to the slaughter, just participants. If you could somehow travel back to this scene, through the would-be canvas, you would run flailing your arms toward the hardwood forests and the men with sticks and guns and boiling sulphur pots to bring birds out of the trees, as if you could deliver 50,000 individual warnings, or throw yourself prostrate on the ground, as if your one body could hold sway.

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