We are all living the same moment.

Air is the gaseous substance of life. Sky is what we see of it. How it is framed. The mind’s eye’s way of giving it structure. Blue tent, sky-space, cobalt between heaving mountains.

Air is all over us, inside us, expelled by us, renewed by the operations of photosynthesis and the evaporation of ever-warmer seas.
Sky is ubiquity. It drives into us. We gulp weather. Yet we conceive of it as “out there,” “up there,” and apart from us. Sky is “scape,” a fictive reference point to which we cling, yet it also stands for the open space we come to know as an ever-expanding, cosmic whole…

It is spring as I write, and the world is locked down in a raging pandemic. We hold still while airborne germs wrapped in fat float and flap all around us, threatening our lives…

Sky is a living body, a lung that spews life. In China it is chi, a life force, or tianqi, “heaven’s breath.” In Greenland, it is sila, nature and consciousness. For the Navajo Nation, sky is Nitth’i, a benevolent spirit. The Crow, who live on the grasslands of Montana and Wyoming, call sky huche, meaning “wind that blows steadily at the foot of the mountain.” In Egypt, the dying summoned the god of air and said, “I have gone up to Shu; I have climbed the sunbeams.” …

Sky is nothing and everything: a blank that holds solar systems, locust swarms, heaven’s gates, kingfishers, and cosmos. It’s where the Big Bang flapped everything into being. Recently, 19 new interstellar asteroids were found orbiting the sun, and astronomers have uncovered the beauty of the asymmetrical universe, where the battle between matter and antimatter was waged. Matter and cosmic imperfection won out; otherwise, we wouldn’t exist. “Imperfection is our paradise,” a Buddhist teacher said…

Perhaps that’s the best way to think about the sky and the ways it binds and releases us. Looking up, we can all see the same things: the pink moon, sunrise’s glory, starlight, and the lovely, lonely curve of air. Our peripheral vision shapes what we think we are seeing. From my lookout on a moving dogsled, I’ve seen how the horizon’s silver stripe divides ice from air, mist from ocean, space from Earth, and dark from light as the blue tent floats down and softly covers us all.

~ Gretel Ehrlich, “We Are All Living the Same Moment” in The Atlantic (May 2, 2020)


Photo: DK, Cove Island Park, May 3, 6:43 am.

Undermining the Ground Beneath Our Feet


Notes:

House on Fire


Photo: Wildlife rescuer Simon Adamczyk carries a koala out of a burning forest to safety on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia, on January 7, 2020. Photograph by David Mariuz.

The Atlantic: Animals Rescued From Australia’s Bushfires. January 9, 2020:

“The horrific wildfires that have been burning across Australia for months now have taken a severe toll on the animals that called the scorched lands home. Estimates of the number of animals killed by the fires range from hundreds of millions to more than 1 billion. Volunteers and crews from Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Service have been doing what they can to help some of the kangaroos, koalas, lizards, and birds that can be rescued and treated. Ranchers and pet owners have been working to keep the animals in their care secure when possible, but many farm animals have been killed as well. As much as one-third of Australia’s Kangaroo Island has burned so far, with wildlife experts fearing that more than half of the island’s 50,000 koalas have been killed.”

At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?

North American songbirds have been shrinking steadily in size over the past 40 years, according to scientists who measured tens of thousands of the feathered creatures from dozens of different species and attributed the changes to rising temperatures.

As the birds’ bodies got smaller, their wings gradually got longer, the scientists said in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Ecology Letters. The longer wings, the researchers said, may help offset the loss of body mass so the birds can fly efficiently on their long migrations. The changes were too small to be apparent to the naked eye, the scientists said, amounting to a gram or so in weight per bird and a few millimeters change in individual wing length…

Migrating birds in the modern world face many hazards affecting their growth and survival, from vanishing nesting grounds, dwindling food sources and pesticide use, to domestic cats, which kill up to 3 billion birds annually. Collisions with high-rise buildings kill another 600 million or so migrating birds every year.

~ Robert Lee Hotz, from “Songbirds Are Shrinking in Size, Study Finds. Scientists pin drop-off in size of North American songbirds on rising temperatures” (wsj.com, Dec 5, 2019)


Notes:

Post inspired by: “At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this? / And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?”  by Ilya Kaminsky, from “A City Like a Guillotine Shivers on Its Way to the Neck,” Deaf Republic

And further inspired by: “But there’s something undoing about the dying light of mid-afternoon. In that empty old house on Marlborough Road all that had stitched me into this life came undone and I couldn’t escape the feeling that folded against my back were wings that had failed to open. ~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)

Sunday Morning

“I’ve been meaning to tell you,” Blake said, his voice serious and quiet. “It isn’t just the yew. Have you noticed the Douglas fir by the science building? Or the blue spruce by the auditorium?” I shook my head. He said recent measurements indicated those trees, too, were growing much faster than they should have been. Blake had talked with several people at the U.S. Forest Service about what he was noticing on campus and they told him recent measurements from around the world showed mature evergreens of all species now regularly exceeding previously recorded height records by twenty to thirty feet. “Why?” I asked. Blake settled a little coral impatiens bursting with buds into the soil. “Global warming,” he said. “I think they’re trying to save us.”

~ Jessica Francis Kane, Rules for Visiting 


Photo: 123RF

Morning Walk ( < 30 seconds)

> > > > NOTE: Press arrow on right center of photo to advance to video.

Epic Beauty and…

The Þjórsá River—Iceland’s longest—is a glacial river, fed by the Hofsjökull glacier, Iceland. The colors and patterns are created by the glacial melt seen flowing through volcanic silt. (Photograph by Jassen Todorov, National Geographic, Pilot’s stunning aerial picture wins National Geographic’s 2018 photo contest, December 6, 2018)

“A concert violinist by trade, Todorov began soaring above the ground in the early 2000s, eventually becoming a flight instructor and igniting his passion to visually capture the aerial world below—including both epic beauty and environmental challenges…When I fly long distances, I listen to a lot of music,” Todorov says. “I’m able to combine music, flying, and photography. Music has a lot to do with structure and composition, colors and patterns, moods and characters—when I am looking at a photo, I am thinking about the same things.”

No. Nightmare…


Photo: Marcus Yam, Ventura, California Wildfires (December 5, 2017). His statement: “This is a recurring scene in my dreams.”

Drip. Drip. Drip.

airconditioning

“There you are, turning the ignition of your car,” he writes. “And it creeps up on you.” Every time you fire up your engine you don’t mean to harm the Earth, “let alone cause the Sixth Mass Extinction Event in the four-and-a-half billion-year history of life on this planet”. But “harm to Earth is precisely what is happening”. Part of what’s so uncomfortable about this is that our individual acts may be statistically and morally insignificant, but when you multiply them millions and billions of times – as they are performed by an entire species – they are a collective act of ecological destruction. Coral bleaching isn’t just occurring over yonder, on the Great Barrier Reef; it’s happening wherever you switch on the air conditioning. In short, Morton says, “everything is interconnected”.

~ Alex Blasdel, ’A reckoning for our species’: (Timothy Morton) the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene (The Guardian, June 17, 2017)


Photograph: Residential house in Shinagawa, Tokyo by Jan Vranovský, 2016 @ Parallel World. Jan Vranovský (*1986, Prague) is a Czech born architect, graphic designer and photographer, currently living in Tokyo.

Wow, I am sorry

Death comes with raising cattle: coyotes, blizzards and the inevitable trip to the slaughterhouse and dinner plate. But after 30 years of ranching, Mark and Mary Kaltenbach were not ready for what met them after a wildfire charred their land and more than one million acres of rain-starved range this month.

Dozens of their Angus cows lay dead on the blackened ground, hooves jutting in the air. Others staggered around like broken toys, unable to see or breathe, their black fur and dark eyes burned, plastic identification tags melted to their ears. Young calves lay dying.

Ranching families across this countryside are now facing an existential threat to a way of life that has sustained them since homesteading days: years of cleanup and crippling losses after wind-driven wildfires across Kansas, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle killed seven people and devoured homes, miles of fences and as much as 80 percent of some families’ cattle herds.

But for many, the first job after the fire passed was loading a rifle.

“You think you’re done,” he said, “and the next day you got to go shoot more.”

For decades and generations, ranching has defined people’s days. Mr. Kaltenbach would wake up at 4:30 a.m. without an alarm clock…“It’s our life,” Mrs. Kaltenbach, 57, said. “We lost our routine.”

“We did what had to be done,” Mr. Kaltenbach, 69, said. “They’re gentle. They know us. We know them. You just thought, ‘Wow, I am sorry.’”

~ Jack Healy, Burying Their Cattle, Ranchers Call Wildfires ‘Our Hurricane Katerina’


Notes:

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