just over the horizon, a midwest-calendar-worthy farm. the photograph could be black and white save for the old barn and an outbuilding, red boards peeking at us, just over the horizon.
there was snow. way more snow than we realized. at home the lake effect had kept the snow at bay – this time. but up there, snow lay on the evergreens, drifted along fences and there were even those piles in parking lots. just over the horizon.
we drive and wonder. we take the back roads to milwaukee, choosing to stay off the interstate. we wish to see the horizon as we pass it. we wish to wonder. who are these people – these hardworking farmers in these days? we pause to talk about what life must be like, the challenges, the rewards, what the horizon will bring them as the years click by.
it makes me think of a song –
“i look once more just around the riverbend beyond the shore where the gulls fly free don’t know what for what i dream, the day might send just around the riverbend for me coming for me“
(alan menken/stephen schwartz)
it’s in looking back we realize how far we have come. from where we stand – still – we can’t see how the horizon changes. we cannot see what is beyond the horizon. were we to live life like a leica drone – or a gull – we might be able to catch a glimpse. but maybe all that would do is fill in the gaps – color in the rest of the old barn, show where the silo meets the ground, capture the next bend in the river, the next rise of the land.
it wouldn’t show the snow that might fall. it wouldn’t show new dreams dreamed nor the future coming.
it would simply give us the architecture of what’s out there. but not the heart.
much like the teacher in the peanuts cartoon (do not pass go until you watch this!), sometimes when people around us speak – even people we love dearly and eternally, even people who are wise and whose opinions and advice matter, even people who are thinking of our and their best interest, even people who are well-intentioned, even people who want to have thoughtful shared-planning-the-future discussions – we hear “wah-wah-woh-wah-wah-wah”.
we are the victims. we are the perpetrators.
the blah-dee-blah-dee-blah. the eye-rolling moments. the oh-geez-good-grief-criminy. the if-i-sigh-will-they-hear-me-and-stop. the maybe-yawning-would-work. the what-can-i-say-to-bring-this-overkill-conversation-to-a-screeching-halt. the distract-distract-distract. the load-up-the-cleverly-snide-remark-and-shoot.
ahhh yes. and then there’s the faux-innocent-smug-comeback.
and no thanks to cervantes here. clearly, he was full of double-talk.
susan and i played hopscotch for hours. we’d toss a bobby pin or a rock and hop to our heart’s content, nothing else pressing on us in the summer sun.
the summer sun seems a bit escalated now. temperatures are soaring across our country. it is astounding to open the accuweather app and see places i have saved having highs in the upper 90s or even topping 100 degrees. extreme weather. it’s only june. summer literally just officially opened its season. and yet, there is article after article about drought and rapidly dropping water levels and severe storms and the beginning of oppressive fires and people evacuating.
this morning i awoke to an alert on my phone. pitkin county in colorado sent out an emergency message about a wildfire. i didn’t remember having these alerts but, now that i think about it, i must have initiated something either during avalanches over the winter or maybe when the high mountain county was sending out news about covid. either way, my beloved girl is up there in those mountains so i will not be likely to take the alerts off now.
climate change in all its iterations is upon us. weather pattern changes and global warming are pressing in on us. it would seem that we should pay attention, especially if we want this world to continue into future generations.
yesterday i was forwarded and read an article in the new york times about the giant redwoods and sequoias, trees that have been individually standing for perhaps as long as 3000 years, as a forest for millions of years. the peril faced by these enormous and wise giants of the forest is imminent. old-growth forests are critical, yet there are now less than 10 percent remaining in this country. we are stewards of the future earth. we need pay attention.
summer stretches in front of us now. the stuff of outdoor adventures, barbecues in the backyard, camping in national and state parks, faraway roadtrips and lazy beach days. coming upon the hopscotch chalked on the sidewalk i couldn’t help but hop. the joy of remembering, the muscle memory of the 1-2-3-45-6-78-9-10 or 1-23-4-56-7-89-10, whatever the template, hopping, hopping.
for that same delight, that same closely-held set of childhood memories, it is my hope that concentrated effort and dedicated budgeting is placed upon incredibly important research, on the threat of climate change, on the sustaining of our environment. we must pass on – to our children and our children’s children and our children’s children’s children – a world that is healthy, an earth that can support the drinking water needs of its people, a country that takes responsibility for its ecological challenges.
in the old-growth forests, the trees have somehow survived “fire and clear-cutting, new growth…death, death and life again.” the author continues, “the power of the tree isn’t in forgetting, but remembering.” (nytimes, lauren sloss)
maybe we need grab a bobbypin, toss it into a chalked hopscotch and hop. maybe that will remind us to remember.
the catalogs accumulate in the rack in the bathroom. every so often i go through them and ferret out the ones i want to keep, the ones to hold onto for just a bit longer. it isn’t likely that i will purchase anything from them right now, but perusing them is like shopping, even a bit like buying in an odd way. i have found that if i look at something in a catalog often enough, long enough, the desire to have that item is somehow satisfied and will eventually go away. of course, this isn’t always true and some things have cut through the noise of all-those-pages, risen to the top and, after much internal debate, have been ordered. just not so much in recent days.
some catalogs pay close attention to the beauty of the whole. catalogs like patagonia, stio, sundance. pieces written by brand ambassadors, stunning photography, they are like picture-books and beg your attention. some catalogs stress a narrative, the story that makes you want an item; j.peterman rules at this, but soft surroundings creates story as well. some catalogs tell the back-story, personalizing the company, like karen kane. many are aware of their social impact, like LL bean. some catalogs just stuff asmuchinformationastheycan into their pages. those don’t make the magazine-rack-cut and are promptly recycled when they arrive.
i took photographs of many stormy skies, wet grasses, and drips dripping this past week, grumbling a bit about the weather. i would have rathered that the sun of the earlier part of that week had stuck around, the 70 degrees had lingered, the i-am-about-to-put-on-flip-flops temptation. instead, it rained and stormed and drizzled and fogged and rained again.
then i flipped open the january stio catalog on the rack, on the cover a long line down a powder slope created by a skier, always making me think of my daughter. every other page had a gorgeous photo; this company, birthed in 2012 and stewarding responsible outdoor lifestyle, is based in jackson hole, wyoming, so there is much appreciation for high mountain vistas. i perused the photos and the text, glancing at the gear. and i stumbled across the words, “the long view…think for the future.” it was an ad for recycled fleece clothing and their ethical stance, much like the powerhouse patagonia, to “reduce impact and waste and consume less energy – which is all better for this closed loop system we call earth.”
the long view. think for the future.
like the slow and steady turtle. like the fallow of the winter. like the tiny five degrees a month i hope to regain in my wrist. like the first words on a page, the first strokes on a canvas, the first notes in the air. like the extended-term wearing of masks to mitigate a mutating pandemic. like the temporary suspension of dinners in restaurants, live concerts, large gatherings in respect for each other. like the absence of normal, of security in a time of rebuilding. like time-without to remind you to appreciate time-with. like the incessant rain on an april day.
“winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” (paul theroux)
ten inches already. that’s what the weather app says. another several on the way. it’s stunning out. snow-magic everywhere.
my phone camera log has many, many photographs of snow. a lot of these are from my daughter, a professional snowboard coach and instructor and an avid and passionate snow-girl in the high mountains of colorado. every one of them makes me yearn to be there…in the snow-covered fallow of winter, the time of energy storing up underground ready to burst forth in spring and bring new life, a new day.
yet climate change barrels forward, knocking down the door. “we have arrived at a moment of decision. our home – earth – is in grave danger. what is at risk of being destroyed is not the planet itself, of course, but the conditions that have made it hospitable for human beings.” (al gore)
global warming threatens. the last five years were the hottest on record and CO2 levels are historic. the trends are dangerous. the weather is extreme. the long-term effects of decisions we make now will change the trajectory of what is possible and impossible for our children, their children, the children of their children. we, each of us, need be responsible.
“protect our winters POW was started in 2007 by pro snowboarder jeremy jones, who witnessed first-hand the impact of climate change on our mountains. POW’s mission is to engage and mobilize passionate outdoor people to educate others about the growing problem of climate change and its negative effects on the environment, to protect the places and lifestyles they love. POW is a community of athletes, scientists, creatives, and business leaders advancing non-partisan policies that protect our world today and for future generations.” (protectourwinters.org)
2021. i cannot imagine – in recent years – a time when recovery and preparation were more vitally necessary, more heartbreakingly essential and when potential disaster was more imminent. we face down the raging pandemic, politicial chaos, heartless social injustices, vitriol echoing from one coast of star-spangled-banner-land to the other, wild and extreme weather events, bitter fallout from any and all of these.
the fallow of this winter need be rich with nutrients to conquer the acerbic byproducts of this time. the snow will help, i hope. yes, the fallow. this long, long winter. maybe snowmelt in the spring will reveal a wash of positive movement, rejuvenation, renewal.
“i don’t want your hope. i don’t want you to be hopeful. i want you to panic and act as if the house was on fire.” (greta thunberg)
it is our earth – graciously granted to us for a time. it is our absolute obligation – imperative for the future, any future – to act. like it matters.
“perhaps the rewards of solving climate change are so compelling, so nurturing and so natural a piece of the human soul that we can’t help but do it.” (auden schendler)
“the eyes of all future generations are on you…” (greta thunberg)
yes, greta. and what will each of us choose to do?
we carry it all with us. baggage. baggage upon baggage upon baggage. i once (poorly) drew a graphic of a stick person with an “outbreak of baggage”. rollie bags and attaches, spinners and hardshells, suitcases and totes; i depicted a person with multiples of these, pulling and dragging and lugging them everywhere. each experience shoved into the depths of some piece of luggage; more and more loaded into expandable bags, the zippers stretched to the breaking point. we lose sleep, perseverating over all the baggage we have. the wee hours of the night nag us; we miss the hope of the sunrise.
but the sunrise happens nonetheless. and the grace of a new day is gifted to us. just as the tide-wave rushes in to the shoreline and cleanses the beach, washing away the footprints of the previous day, smoothing the rough edges, so does the new day grant us another chance. we stand – present – right now, feet neither in yesterday nor in tomorrow. our load is lessened, our baggage drops away. we are freed to step lightly into next. for our past does not dictate our future.
“…leaving to fill in the space called the future…”
yesterday is but a shadow now. we rise with the sun and the lingering shadows and shapes in the dusk-then-darkness-then-dawn quietly disappear. we can’t hold onto them, any of them, despite our sometimes-longing to do so. memories are like that. the moments we most want to remember…they slyly tiptoe out of our mind’s eye, elusive to our heart-threads trying to hold onto them. that is why i keep a calendar.
my calendar is written. with a pencil. every day i write in it, catching up what we did with our time, what we worked on, where we went, who we saw, maybe a new recipe we tried. mostly, though, i write down moments i don’t want to forget. milliseconds or minutes of bliss with a loved one, gorgeous things said, handholds or hugs that i want to keep feeling, things i want to memorize but know will slip softly into a recess that i may or may not be able to access.
on the first day of the new year (or the last day of the old year) it is my ritual to read every day, every log, of my year’s calendar. in that reading we are transported. to the places we went, the people we visited with, the exquisite times, the arguments, treasured mom-moments that have repeated-time-release joy. we remember things we had forgotten. we stand once again on the precipice above the canyon or the beach on the cape. we stroll once again under a canopy of spanish-moss-covered live oaks or the big sky of the high range mountains. we sit once again on red rocks or on the train to chicago or on the subway in boston or on the pontoon boat up north or on the high kitchen stools having potluck friday or on the raft or at the pub near where we scattered ashes one last time. we hike once again in the nearby woods, on the river trail, through high desert. we roadtrip, once again, heading east, west, south, north. we have conversation-snippets-to-remember once again with The Girl, The Boy, david’s parents, our siblings, nieces, nephews, dear friends. once again, we make music and art, we write stories and blogposts and press releases and letters and emails and texts; some we want to hold onto, even if just a word or two, a sentiment or two. once again.
we process our year. we see. we celebrate. we learn. we plan and we plan to not plan. we dream. we look to the future.