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Water, Water, Everywhere…


This weekend I was invited to attend a Pow-Wow in a nearby town.  My friend is of Native American descent and I was so pleased to be invited to share a corner of his world.

It took me a few moments to get past the feathers and fringes, and begin seeing the people.  It was all so beautiful!  A man in the center of the circle spoke gently throughout the day, introducing different singers and telling a little about the dance going on.  During intertribal dances us white folks were invited to dance, too!  As the afternoon passed I found myself sinking into the spirit of the gathering.  All was gentle, serene, inclusive.  These were warriors, fully expressing their humanity in a way that few groups do.  No wonder my friend is always so calm.

Afterwards it was hours before I wanted to hear the radio or otherwise let the world in.  Finally, though, I turned on NPR and I heard a couple of stories that got me thinking.  First was the terrible story coming out of Syria, and the chemical “testing” that was carried out on citizens.   Now, of course, the US is threatening to “punish” their government.  This was followed by a story about water in a different Arab country whose name I didn’t catch.  Here, a man was explaining that the wells are all running dry in his country.  It is thought that within 10 years the country will have no more water.  My first thought, I’m ashamed to say, was “well, keep your straw out of Lake Michigan!”  Not very inclusive of me.

But then I thought of how, with global warming, water is already rising.  Salt water is contaminating well water in low coastal areas, and will eventually flood it entirely.  What if we could desalinate ocean water and make it potable?  GE has already invested in this technology.  It is energy intensive, but happily there is plenty of wind and sun along coasts, so obtaining clean renewable energy should be no great obstacle.  Think of it~ the very water that threatens to swamp many highly populated areas could actually be captured and piped to people who are in desperate need of it.  If they did that along the California coast, wouldn’t LA be able to leave the Colorado River alone?  Also, I’ve read that scientists are concerned that all the melting glaciers will dilute the sea water, causing death to creatures that depend on certain levels of salinity.  Seems to me this would address this issue, as well.

Finally, this brings me back around to my original impression.  It is hard to describe that feeling at the Pow-Wow.  I was so impressed by these people, who are finding ways to carry on their culture within the context of what IS.  Far from carrying resentment and hatred for the culture that came in and swamped them, they move forward, embracing others with acceptance.  It was a deeply moving, radiant experience.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all people could learn to do this?  If we can put aside fear and hate, think how we can use technology to help each other… and maybe, take care of our precious planet in the bargain.

That would be something to dance about.

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Friends Passing Through


This is a print I had made from a painting I did some time ago.  I just came across it when digging through an old portfolio.  What a great find, just in time for the show I will be at next week.

Still, though, when I look at the image I feel a small stab of sadness.  It was painted from an image taken by a very dear friend of mine.  She is a botanist…at the time, she worked for the IDNR.  Now she has headed for the hills of California to be a botanist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  I really hated to see her go.  She was an effervescent soul, and oh! the adventures we had!  You haven’t gone canoeing until you have canoed with a botanist and an artist through a high quality wetland.  “WHAT’S THAT???”  “I dunno, let’s go see…” followed by gales of laughter as the canoe tipped precariously and what we took to be solid land turned out to be floating mats of vegetation…

The last I heard from her, she had literally taken to the hills with a set of friends, happy with just a pack on her back, eyes glinting into the distance.

Part of me, of course, would love to pick up and follow her.  That just isn’t the direction my heart wants to go, however.  My path simply goes in a different direction.  It was really hard for me to watch the thread that connected us snap.  Not through anger, only through vastly divergent paths.  Well, and I confess, it is hard to be content with my own life when my friend is off having such a huge adventurous life.  Everything I do seems small by comparison.  Still, I must trust that little voice I hear when I tune into my heart, that I am doing what is right for me to do.

Friendships, like all blessings, pass through our lives, to be deeply enjoyed.  Clinging to them when clearly it is meant for them to move on only brings sorrow.  Better to open our hands, to hold them lightly and then release them un-squashed.  And the better to hold the next blessing heading our way.

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Watchful Crane



“We can’t go back and change our beginning, but we can begin to change our ending…everybody has a future as well as a past!” -unknown

I love this quote, because it reminds me that right now is a perfect time to roll up my sleeves and attend to the things that matter to me, so that one day the outcomes will be a good as I can hope.  Stewardship of land, for instance.  Here we are on the bank of the lovely (and very much alive) Dead River at Illinois Beach State Park.  Much work goes on here, keeping invasives under control, watching out for pollutants from upstream.  And in Wisconsin, a wonderful group called the International Crane Foundation, has returned cranes to us!  I never expected to see these wonderful birds in the wild, yet every summer, now, we get to see them lurking about in fields and hear them bugling through the skies.  Wonderful.

I feel so grateful for all the people who have come before me, working to restore ecosystems, and for the opportunity to join them.

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My family has been on a movie kick lately, and we brought home that one about fracking.   Now what is the name of that one….?  Anyhow, I didn’t get very far into it because it was coming home to me how bad this is, how big the companies involved are and the tactics they employ to “persuade” communities.  I felt sick and had to retreat to my room for a bit.

Here’s what I decided, while drying my tears.  I am going to crank up my compassion for people and the world.  There will always be those who seek power and profit at the cost of everyone else, and there will always be those who rise up to stop them.  But I felt my heart calling me in a tangential direction…to confront the whole catastrophe with love.  Maybe if there is enough of that around the ones who endlessly seek profit at any cost will cease to feel that need.  And then there are the marketers, convincing us that we need stuff.  More stuff, cheap stuff, plastic stuff.  With plastic bags around it.  Which of course the Plastic Industry needs us to believe.  Which leads us back to fracking, because that is where the raw materials for plastic comes from.  Round and round we go…

I’ve read somewhere that while we think of ourselves as a democracy we are really a capitalist country.  I believe capitalism is good, and I’m all for smaller government.  But the one thing I expect my government to do, and which it has failed to do, is to protect the citizens from industries and corporations that get too powerful.  ” Too big to fail”?  That is a scary concept.  I believe industry needs reins and a good bit.  It is folly to think that any industry will choose to rein itself in for the good of the planet or people.

However there is another level to consider, and that is the one I’m reaching for.  The one that lets you see, really see, people.  At the end of the day, every one of us is here to learn something, and to grow.  Making mistakes is part of that process, of course.  Ask any parent.

As if to drive home the point to me, I was given two extraordinary gifts this week.  Here in Chicagoland, a badger (!) was found in a suburban yard, and yesterday I rounded a curve and saw a red fox!!!  And so, hope.