metamorphosis

We found the eggs of a Monarch butterfly on the underside of a milkweed leaf. Dad got a big jar and put the milkweed leaf there, along with other milkweed leaves. And we watched it every day. 

Soon, there was a little caterpillar that quickly grew into a big, tigerish caterpillar. We kept bringing fresh milkweed leaves, and the caterpillar ate and ate and ate. We put our faces right up to the jar to see.

One day, the caterpillar switched gears entirely and got about the business of creating its astonishing chrysalis, that ethereal pale green with the touch of gold, like an angel’s wing. And every day, we just watched and waited.

Finally, more magic happened. The new Monarch emerged with its limp wings. We stared, as the butterfly pumped and tested the wings. Then, we knew it was time. 

We took the jar outside and opened it up near the milkweed patch and the trees. The Monarch flew up into the skies. We stood gazing, amazed and happy. 

Little did we know then how tenuous life was already becoming for the Monarchs. We would watch every year for their migration, and slowly realize that something was happening. Their numbers were dwindling.

The glimpse we had of the precious and beautiful life of our Monarch butterfly made us open our eyes to the wide world and all of the ways we are connected — mysteriously and wonderfully. So now we watch for the butterflies and the birds and the fish and the bears and the bees and the milkweed and the trees and so much more, and we tread ever more softly in the home we share.

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Many thanks to Eugie’s Causerie for the prompt, “observation,” that inspired these words.

you change the world

be kind to yourself, others, animals, earth – go plant-based

The United Nations Environment Programme yesterday released a report that looks at the role human activity plays in giving rise to zoonotic diseases. These are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, as COVID-19 is supposed to have originated.

The report calls out seven “human-mediated factors … most likely driving the emergence of zoonotic diseases.” They cite seven “disease drivers”:

1) increasing human demand for animal protein; 2) unsustainable agricultural intensification;
3) increased use and exploitation of wildlife; 4) unsustainable utilization of natural resources accelerated by urbanization, land use change and extractive industries; 5) increased travel and transportation; 6) changes in food supply; and 7) climate change.

No big surprises here. It’s the usual culprits for so many of the things ailing us, particularly the impoverished citizens of the globe.

Given all that we know, it’s still startling how little we’re actually doing about any of it. As the report mentions, these negative impact factors are actually increasing or intensifying.

Human demand for animal protein is just one of them. It’s startling to realize that even though it is common knowledge that our insatiable demand for meat and dairy directly contributes to profound health and environmental issues, it remains on the increase.

Data from the Global Meat & Poultry Trends report released by Packaged Facts in February of this year shows that:

“Meat consumption worldwide is expected to increase 1.4% per year through 2023…”

It predicts that “…global meat and poultry consumption will reach 313 million metric tons in 2023. Global per capita consumption will rise slightly to 39 kilograms per year.” That’s roughly 86 pounds per person — globally.

USDA data cited by the The National Chicken Council shows that in the United States, per capita meat consumption (including beef, pork, and poultry) in 1960 was 167.2 pounds. In 2019 that number was 224.3. Although a slight dip to 220.2 pounds is predicted in 2020, meat consumption is forecast to be on the increase again, up to 223.5 pounds in 2021.

That is a lot of dead animals. And repercussions.

While plenty of folks are being religious about wearing masks and social distancing, the UNEP report underscores that there are other truly meaningful things we could be doing to help the world both now and in the future relative to pandemics and beyond. Just look at that list of seven things above. There is no doubt in my mind that there are at least several that each of us, personally, can directly impact. Reducing meat consumption is just one of them. 

Don’t wait for the powers that be to tell you how they’re gonna change the world (and then figure out if you can like it). YOU change the world.

imperfect

look at all the mistakes
nothing came out quite right
it’s beautiful isn’t it?
you can tell how little they knew
but at least there’s progress, right?
well, practice anyway
look at this funny part right here
they didn’t mean to do it like that
but it was the best they could do
after so many attempts
they must really want it
i wonder how the next one will turn out
makes you a little envious
maybe i should try

paradox

I know why
and I don’t.

lots of hills on this journey
blind curves
surprises
even as the sun rises and sets every single day

encounters with the wild
with the weather
spirits
or the crazy one that accosts out of the blue

still here, still on this path
after all that
I reached this place
I can recount the steps

I see the vista broad and beautiful and amazing
standing here alone
a tender paradox
unbearable to ask

my heart fills
even as it breaks
I know why
but I don’t.

independence day

Tigers deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, too!

Strange times. Here we are celebrating Independence Day during a period of ever-deepening loss of freedom. 

The celebration commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. A key selection from the revered document simply asserts:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It goes on to say, basically, that the whole point of government is to ensure those unalienable rights.

Wave the flag all you want, but we are not really holding to the sentiment expressed so clearly in the Declaration. Nor have we been for a long time, if ever.

When we consider folks like women, black people, Native Americans, immigrants, and others, it is easy to see that interpretation and application of the Declaration has not been straight-forward.

It’s time to double down on the original expressed intent — equality and Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness — because our freedom is at more risk than ever.

The whole Covid-19 adventure has been an exercise in surrendering freedoms. And that’s post Patriot Act.

Lockdowns (and more) have quickly given us a primer in loss of freedoms, and how swiftly it can happen. Those freedoms have been cut in the context of heavy propaganda, making it next to impossible for the average citizen to judge the situation or the truth in an informed, rational way.

Adjusted to it, yet? Because it has launched us down a path that guarantees to strip us of more freedoms in the long term, unless we are vigilant and proactive.

Sadly, Americans seem to be taking entrenched stands on things. What we really need to do, however, is come together. We need to learn to accommodate opposing points of view as we educate ourselves and find a path that allows us our equal and unalienable rights. 

We will ensure neither health nor freedom by stripping rights, or by alienation, mockery, and ostracizing.

I hope we all recognize, too, that we really can’t trust our freedom to government at any level without our alert and insistent participation. Even though we’ve seen a lot of protests lately, there is so much more work to do.

This Independence Day, we have to stand up and demand, with respect and compassion, those equal and unalienable rights outlined so many years ago.

Just like the deer in the forest, the fish in the sea, and the birds in the air, each of us exists on this amazing planet with the mission of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Deeply grateful for the freedom we do experience, let us take these words to heart and act like we mean it. Let’s do it together. 

sanctuary #WritePhoto

Photo courtesy of Sue Vincent

I topple recklessly down the stairs, hands flailing, no thought of falling in my panic to flee. I sprint to the door, both arms in front of me, only to find it locked.

A fresh cascade of tears falls on my hands as I turn the lock and knob in a frenzy. I fling the door open with a backward glance. I bolt, sobbing and panting, into the night air.

I quickly confront the large stone wall. Like a penned animal, I scamper alongside it, looking for an opening.

Whimpering with frustration, my hand on the cool stones, I feel my way to a small portal. I lift the latch with shaking hands and push through the gate. The sound of a step on gravel snaps somewhere behind me, followed by an angry curse.

I hurtle into the darkness.

By morning, I am disheveled and exhausted, but still moving. I feel the air on my skin where my bodice is torn. I begin to think again. 

As the sun climbs higher, I finally notice the unknown path I somehow find myself traveling. Dreamlike, a sea of lavender heather surrounds me. I glance upward where a hawk soars high in the sky. In the distance, I spot a diminutive spire amidst the green trees of a valley. 

A sudden rush of gratitude flooding through me, I trudge forward. 

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Many thanks to Sue Vincent for this week’s #WritePhoto prompt.

proposed school plans — irresponsible and dangerous

The CDC and state government officials in concert with educators and administrators have developed protocols for back-to-school scenarios. Frankly, what they came up with is deeply troubling. Parents should be rising up.

Schools as they are currently being envisioned will neither be safe places nor healthy ones, all the while shepherding students down a troubling and dangerous path.

Make no mistake about it, this is a curriculum that teaches, normalizes, and prioritizes fear and compliance.

Schools of the near future will involve wearing masks all day, being subjected to screenings, socially distanced, confined to classrooms for meals, confined to classrooms in lieu of assemblies involving other groups, hand sanitizing ad infinitum, etc.

Kids will be psychologically and socially damaged for life even though they are at virtually no risk from the virus. No, apparently, they must suffer for the good of their elders. They might learn their ABCs, but they’ll also get thorough instruction in becoming an automaton.

Where is the outcry? I don’t hear parents rising up to call out the obvious: “This is not a healthy environment for our kids!

I can only assume the reason for that is because schools in large part have been successful in forming generations of people who abide the norm. It is everyone’s loss, even while the power class chuckles.

It may also be that parents feel relieved to hand education duties back to the professional educators, abdicating the responsibility and accommodating employment.

Just because everyone goes along with something, does not make it okay. You would think that is a lesson of which we would all have some grasp by now, but apparently not. Hence, I suspect that critical thinking skills will remain a low priority for future curricula. 

I also really have to wonder how science will be presented as a school subject. Right now, we hear government officials and media bandy the word “science” about quite a bit without actually presenting solid science. We hear theories, hypotheses, scare mongering, biased projections, manipulated data, and even outright lies presented as scientific faits accomplis.

Real science, thank you very much, observes, explores, tests for a proof. It looks at things from multiple angles. It entertains opposing points of view. Real, good science does not present flawed data, announce results, and take action before all of that has happened, either. Somehow I don’t think that subject is going to be taught.

I am truly sorry for what children are experiencing right now, and sorry for those who will be subjected to the new school agenda. I am sorry for the world that will result from it, if it manages to survive the abuse at all. There is still time to stop it.

We are a country of over 325 million people. There’s a lot of potential there for creative, intelligent thinking and problem solving. But out of all that, we allow the substandard, the mediocre, and even the malevolent to make the rules. Btw, that’s also why we have the two mainstream presidential candidates we’ve got.

We can change all that. We need to think about our children. Parents, wake up, please!

sign of spring

protected by the throng
of spring’s urgent leaves and wayward branches
the scent of the lilacs
surrounding us
we two almost surprised to be alone
under the moon’s knowing eye

I climb into the swing
my long hair trailing
as I lean way back
thrusting my feet forward
abandoned to the air
laughing softly in the dark

the swing slows
you stand in front of me
smiling
coming near
taking hold of my hands on the ropes
as I come, shivering, to my feet

you press close
until we lean together
into the swing holding us
my breath shallow
feeling all the rush and tumble of me
of this first kiss
intoxicating in the lilacs’ embrace
awash in the mystic moonlight
of the orb’s fond gaze

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Many thanks to Devereaux Frazier and Beth Amanda at Go Dog Go Cafe for the inspiration of today’s writing prompt “mystic moonlight.”