A Hope of Bluebirds

DSCF4759The affairs of humanity can certainly make us sad some days, can’t they? I’m trying hard to hang onto hope, a vow I made as the New Year rang in. I’ve promised myself I’ll counter negativity by choosing thoughts and actions that offer my spirit peace, which engenders my creativity more fluidly than giving in to despair or misanthropy, tempting as they may be.

DSCF4720When I feel overcome by the news of plane crashes, wars, crooked politicians, and the relentlessly avoided but vitally necessary triage we must offer our hemorrhaging planet, I’ve promised to look for reasons to hope and actions I can take, however infinitesimally small, to heal the world.

DSCF4729It can be hard to sustain much hope some days.

Trudging through a March snowstorm earlier this week, I was gifted with a sudden downrush and uplift of bluebirds…I don’t know their collective name, but I would offer “a presence,” “a beauty” or “a joy” of bluebirds. Unfortunately, my coat, sweatshirt, gloves, and camera lens were all soaked from the heavy, wet snow, so all I can offer is “a blur of bluebirds.”

DSCF4741But the stunning and unexpected encounter left me lightened and hopeful.

Earlier that morning, I’d come across this recent article, by Eric Holthaus, at Slate.com, which describes dramatic climate change and its effect in the state of Alaska, serving as a kind of bellwether for the rest of the planet.

DSCF4685It seems like every day, more data is published by scientists who are most eager for the rest of us to care enough about the earth that we stop what we’re doing and change, dramatically, the definition of what we need to be happy and how we infinitely produce, appropriate, consume, and cast off material goods on our finite planet.

DSCF4695It’s not as exciting a problem to the general populace, I fear, as Bruce Jenner’s transgender shift, or which team might win the NCAA Championship. Climate change presents an almost-overwhelming amount of data and difficulties, of course, but we’ve become so skilled at giving away our power to solve the challenges we face and at denying the existence of anything that requires us to curb our ravenous consumption, that we use our considerable collective energy and gifts to avoid and run away from truth, rather than facing it, rolling up our sleeves, and doing the hard work of transformation and healing that the earth and our existence require.

DSCF4822We know the time to change is evaporating as quickly as the polar ice caps, but we put it off, anyway. Until when? There is no hero who will save us; we are all responsible for the waste, greed, and self-interest that brought us here, and each of us is vital to its solution.

DSCF4849I do not understand humanity. I sometimes think we’re a virus the earth needs to destroy, and increasingly soon, in order that she and her other inhabitants and systems might thrive.

DSCF4404That’s what led to my blue mood last Monday, when I walked through the (very) late March snowstorm. It’s tricky, living through a Wisconsin March, to know if any given day is “typical,” as the autumnal and spring equinox periods of the year frequently ride into our land like royalty surrounded by the vivid highs and lows of noisy and dramatic courtiers. One day snow; the next, a veritable summer.

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DSCF4886But, we do know that in our part of the state, we’re already hovering between meteorological designations of “Abnormally Dry” and “Drought,” due to the extra 15 inches of snow that “normally” fall during the winter months, and this year, did not. We know temperatures have been “colder than average” these past two months.

DSCF4833We know that species of pollinators (honeybees, monarchs) and plants are diminishing. We know that migratory patterns are altering, to the detriment of fellow species within our earth community, if we could see them as such.

DSCF4816But we do nothing to change or to help. We stomp our little human feet and immaturely cry, “No!” whenever a suggestion of sacrifice or change is made. We blame others. We refuse to imagine and then create new systems that would allow us to live in greater harmony with the rest (the majority, by the way) of the earth.

DSCF4973Seeing the bluebirds refocused me. They reminded me that hopeful actions are far more important at this point than dwelling in a gloom of inactivity. One way I counter my creeping despair is to name things that give me hope.

My students:

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DSCF4933My fellow creatures and their endurance:

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DSCF4984My gardens:

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254850_1904491026042_1654765807_1863734_6018829_nOne way I take responsibility for change is to focus on what I do well and share it. I write effectively. So, here is a template of a letter anyone may copy and send to someone in elected office or a leadership position (an employer, a church official, a queen, a parent, a friend, yourself) to encourage the shift that must happen if we are to cooperate in saving the planet.

 Dear ___________,

Because you are in a position of leadership, you bear the responsibility for contributing to the welfare of those you serve. I’m writing to urge you to use that power by risking its loss through facing the very real threats to your constituents (employees, church members, subjects, children, etc.) and the planet, that are posed by the climate changes now occurring, and those increasingly likely to occur.

Please have the courage to examine the processes of resource procurement, and any production, and waste creation within your scope and responsibility, for ways these might be eliminated altogether, or altered, so as to nurture the health of the earth and all her species.

Please have the courage to create and enforce rules, laws, and systems that prohibit behaviors that endanger the health of the earth and all her species.

Please have the courage to question everything you manage and the choices that govern this management in the light of their impact upon the health of the earth and all her species.

Please have the courage to listen to those who have made their life’s work the study of the earth and her health, and to avail yourself of their expertise when creating and realizing change.

None of these requests come under the banners of easy or popular; none will likely allow you to pay back those who granted you the power you wield; none ensure long years of job security. All, as stated, require courage, which begins in the heart. A true leader loves those served more than the power—or wealth—that come with authority.

My requests do not come without my pledge to support you in making these changes, which I believe are more urgent and in need of discussion and implementation than anything previously faced by those who inhabit our planet.

Sincerely,

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________

Feel free to edit the letter or write your own, but do send it on, and then use your own unique gifts to alter the course of climate change and/or our response to it. I guarantee you, it will do wonders for your hope quotient and the peace of your spirit.

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 “…You will find greater peace of mind

Knowing there’s a bluebird of happiness.

And when he sings to you,

Though you’re deep in blue,

You will see a ray of light creep through…”

 ~ Bluebird of Happiness: Lyrics by Edward Heyman and Harry Parr Davies; music by Sandor Harmati, 1934.

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without Catherine O’Meara’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors.

Coda

Full Moon Cottage has been a merry place the past few days. Although the sky was fairly dreary and dark all weekend, we were overjoyed to receive the 3 inches of rain that fell and to hear the music it made Saturday morning through Sunday.

The river looked like this last Friday:

And like this today:

We’re pleased more rain is on the way tonight and later this week. Today, though, has been sunny and warm, making an inventory of the gardens and trail possible. While some annuals have succumbed to early frosts and we’ve lost some of the perennials to the drought, the roses and mums continue to bloom and color is yet abundant.

The honeybees and bumblebees buzzed intently around the mums this morning. I imagine they know it will soon be closing time in the garden, and are gathering all the available pollen and nectar while they can. The cold weather caused them to slow down and cling to the plants, barely moving. It was good to see them so active again today.

The herons, sandhill cranes, and egrets flew to warmer locations during our cold spell. I’ve worried they were weakened by the drought and hope they’ve found winter nesting sites where water and warmth are available.

Mysteriously, area cardinals, usually abundant year-round, disappeared during the long weeks of drought. I’m hopeful they’ll return and cheer up the winter landscape. Our old friend Bobtail is still a frequent visitor, and the chickadees and tufted titmice have been consuming great quantities of sunflower seed.

We’ve had a coyote roaming our territory the past several weeks, and he seems to have decimated the rabbit population. I haven’t seen the turkey flock for a while, but they cover a lot of ground and may circle back again, with the fox likely following them. I only see him in red flashes here and there. The family of barred owls in the woods beside our home strikes up sustained hooting late in the afternoon. I have no idea why; they may be defending their territory. We love their presence; their hoots punctuate the daily round at Full Moon Cottage as dearly as all the other creatures’ calls, barks, chirps, chatters, buzzes and squeaks.

The drought’s destruction has eased for now, and for that, we’re grateful. The planet’s increasing heat is likely to continue to cause drought conditions and we’ll have to adjust. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/07/24/what-we-know-about-climate-change-and-drought/)

Rain appears several times in the coming forecasts, although it’s often labeled “scattered,” so we may or may not be the happy recipients. It’s too late to save crops for area farmers, but gardens, prairies, forests, rivers, lakes, and all the wildlife that rely on these for food and shelter, have seemed tangibly relieved the past few days. This afternoon, a chorus of blackbirds scattered themselves throughout the treetop choir loft along the trail and filled the air with their songs. High winds shook down remaining leaves, reminding me that autumn is here to stay…but then again, the drought has taught me to take nothing for granted. Everything can change and there are no guarantees that the land and animals I have known will survive coming variations in temperature, water levels, storms, winds, and the resulting available food and shelter.

Life is precarious and made more so by our lack of engagement with the ways our need and greed affect the planet.

But for now, I am enjoying, with great deep gratitude, the songs of blackbirds, the buzzing of bees, the hooting of owls, little Bobtail’s visits to “his” feeder, and the sweet patter of rain falling, like blessing, upon our world.

They may be gone tomorrow.

 

© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.