It’s better than sex.

Speedskating on natural ice is a beloved Dutch national pastime. The tradition is alive and well — just not necessarily in the Netherlands, where climate change now yields winters too warm for the waterways to freeze over with any consistency. The consequences of this have been felt most profoundly in a historical event called the Elfstedentocht, a one-day, long-distance speedskating tour through 11 cities of the Friesland province. It maintains a sacred place in Dutch sports culture. This week, the original Elfstedentocht is passing a worrisome milestone: Friday will be the 8,070th day since the previous edition, the longest period without a race since its inception. But the Dutch refuse to let its spirit die. So every winter, close to 6,000 people from the Netherlands make a pilgrimage to Weissensee (Austria)…

A thousand Dutch skaters congregated before dawn on the frozen surface of the Weissensee, the long, slender lake that gives this small Austrian mountain town its name. The sky was dark, and the headlamps of the shivering skaters cast a spiritual glow onto the charcoal ice. They had been warned not to remove their goggles, lest their eyeballs frost over in the wind. The conditions, by any reasonable standard, were brutal. But the skaters were in heaven. “The most beautiful thing in life is skating on a floor of black ice, in the cold, hearing the sounds of ice skating in nature,” said Wim Wiltenburg, 53, a banker visiting from Tilburg. “It’s better than sex.”

~ Andrew Keh, from Racing the Clock, and Climate Change (NY Times, Feb 7, 2019)

Walking Backward. From The Road.

Think back to when you were a child, it’s Christmas Eve, and your eyes scan the packages under the tree. “Not before 7 am!”  The hands on the clock are stuck in some alien, viscous slurry.

Now, place yourself at the gates of Epcot, the opening day of the International Food & Wine Festival. It’s 7:45 a.m., the gates open at 8 a.m. Throngs of tourists mingle anxiously. Selfies. Smartphones. Strollers. And, Scooters, so many scooters, for the less mobile. (And I’m being kind here.)

There was the new ride  Soarin‘.  Warnings: Motion sickness? Fear of Heights? I look left and right and find no one but me griping the armrests. When did you get so fearful? So timid? Then there was The Seas and the Bomouth Guitarfish, a scary looking cross between Shark and Manta Ray. Then Frozen. Then Nemo. Then Living with the Land, a ride through horticulture and aquaculture. This was followed by a one-hour guided tour called Behind the Seeds. Hydroponics, a subset of hydroculture, a method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. And Aeroponics, the process of growing plants in air or mist without the use of soil.

It is here that the tour seems to hit bone. We are walking through four greenhouses. Plants spinning on mechanical pulleys. And, plants growing in white sand, being fed nutrient drips. And fish, in tanks – sturgeon, bass, catfish, tilapia. Circling round and round, being fed on the clock.

This World, sterile, Man-Manufactured. No insects. No birds. No dark, rich soil. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With My Schwinn

image

5:40 am train to Grand Central.
50º F. Top coat-free morning.
Warm.

Morning papers.

Photo of the Day: Jogger in Beijing. Eyes visible. Face covered with a mask. Street flooded with smog. Mile 1 of apocalypse?

Climate change.
Trump
Fear.
Guns.
Grim.

Hoo-Ah!
Lt. Col. Frank Slade (aka Al Pacino) in Scent of a Woman: “there isn’t nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit.

Bend it. Bend it back.

Mid-summer. 1970’s. Billy’s out front. Brother Rich and cousin Jim tail far behind.  The fishing pole is in my right hand and bending in the wind. I’m griping the handle bars and pumpin’ my legs.  Up down. Up down.  We reach the final leg, a steep decline.  Heads are tucked down and in over the handle bars. The Schwinn accelerates.  We lean into the slow turn right. And then into the slow turn left. The white birches lining the road are a blur.

Metro North makes its first stop and rolls on.  I turn my gaze to the window.  Lights from lamp posts, street lights and apartments illuminate the darkness and whiz by.

I turn my right shoulder ever so slightly to cock the rod.  Out of my right eye are lush forests.  I cast. The floater and lead are suspended in the air. The worm is tucked in tightly on the hook. Towering above, the Cascade Mountains watch over. And the cloudless blue skies watch over all of us.  The Kootenay River, clear, clean and lined with moss covered stones, meanders down stream.

The train pulls into Grand Central. We spill out.

The floater, red and striped, is suspended.  Hanging, frozen in time.

Hold it.

Stop right there.

Don’t let me go.


Notes:

Riding Metro North. Floating above it all.

art-light-gabriel-dawe

I’m walking across town on 47th street to catch Metro North.  Times Square bursts to illuminate the light drizzle falling between the skyscrapers.  It’s 48° F, cool, but comfortable for the first day of December. There’s plenty of time to catch the evening train. I’m a victim of a poor night’s sleep and a long day but I float above it all – above fatigue, above the snarled commuter traffic and I welcome the soft, evening rain. This day is done. This tank is empty. There’s nothing left to do but let it fall.

Fragments from my morning reading of Clarice Lispector’s book parachute in…now the rain has stopped. It’s just cold and feels good…The days melt into one another, merge to form one whole block, a big anchor. Her gaze starts evoking a deep well. Dark and silent water…

I take my seat. Rain drops bead on my shoes and mar the morning shine. Floating, watching it from above, the rain water slides down the side of my shoe. [Read more…]

It’s getting quiet out there. Too quiet.

Stuart Palley

“Have you heard? Or more accurately, not heard? Vicious fires and vanishing ice floes aside, there’s yet another ominous sign that all is not well with the natural world: it’s getting quiet out there. Too quiet. […]

This is the chilling news: Bit by bit, bird by bird, species by species, gurgling brook by gushing river, the song of wild nature is, in many places, falling deathly silent…In short: What once was a rich, varied symphony of sound has become a far more subdued chamber orchestra, with large spaces of eerie silence where there was once a vast natural racket, signifying everything. […]

But overall, the tonal shift is undeniable, and deeply unsettling: There is now less birdsong than at any time in human history. Fewer lions’ roars,  beehive hums, elephant rumbles, frog croakings, simply because we’ve killed off so many of them, and show no signs of slowing. One by one and species by category, the orchestra’s players are exiting the stage. The concert will never be over, but at this rate, it might be a very bleak final movement indeed.”

~ Mark Morford

Don’t miss his entire post here: The Silence of the Birds: When nature gets quiet, be very afraid


Photo: Don’t miss Stuart Palley‘s photographs of wildfires in California in a series titled Terra Flamma.

Monday Morning Meditation: Swim along…

polar-bear-gif-swimming

Good news: Our friend Mr. Polar Bear is taking us on a soothing, rhythmic swim in the frosty arctic waters.


Less good news (and defeats the entire zen purpose of this post: Climate change is pulling the sea ice out from under polar bears’ feet, forcing them to swim longer distances to find food and habitat. Long-distance swimming puts polar bears at risk of drowning due to fatigue or rough seas.)


Source: Biomorphosis via Carol @ Radiating Blossom. (Thank you Carol)

 

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