• Category Archives Great Work
  • Penultimate

    Beltane and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Friends. All of them. Near and far. Family. Ruth and Gabe. My son and Seoah and Murdoch. Mark. Mary. Diane. Tara’s help with some additional Hebrew I got for tomorrow. Tara. Irv. Tom. Paul. Marilyn. Heidi. Alan. Jamie. Veronica. Mindy. Kat. Lauren. Elizabeth. Kate and Mike. Kate’s Creek. Kate, always Kate. Great Sol. Exuberant this morning.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Completing a long journey

    One brief shining: The Shema in the morning, I cover my eyes: Listen, God-Wrestler. YHWH is our God. YHWH is one, touch the mezuzah, still sleepy I pick up my phone, take my morning pills, put in my hearing aid, check for dishes and empty cans of mineral Water, try to remember when I took my synthroid, then upstairs to see Herme still lit from the night and turn him off. A new life has begun.

     

    Bar Mitzvah day tomorrow. Today is penultimate, one of Kate’s favorite words. I’ve practiced. A lot. I’m as ready as I can be. Within one year I have converted, completed the studies necessary for conversion, learned my torah portion in Hebrew so I can read it with no vowels and no punctuation from the torah scroll, practiced leading portions of the morning service, gotten my tallit from Joanne and learned how to use it. Tomorrow the Hebrew meets the scroll as we say. Ha.

    It’s not been easy. At times I felt I might founder under the expectations, the constant study. Like learning a new language. The religious language of an ancient people. Yet each step has deepened my conviction about becoming a Jew. Even with the whole Israel/Gaza mess and the aborted trip to Israel.

    Each time I go in the synagogue, if I remember, I wear my kippah. I say we when discussing matters Jewish. My lev, my heart-mind, has shifted allegiances to this oddly rigorous, yet undogmatic spiritual path. My inner pagan remains intact, nurtured now by Rosh Chodesh, the Jewish lunar calendar, Sukkot, Passover, Shavuot, Tu Bishevat as well as the Great Wheel and the unitary metaphysic I claim every morning and evening when I say the Shema. Reconstructionist Rabbi’s like Jamie, Art Green, Toba Spitzer, Rami Shapiro, and Michael Strassfield continue the radical project of Mordecai Kaplan. In doing so they have, for me anyhow, opened my lev to the intimacy of teshuvah and the world-embracing power of tikkun.

    Yes. But that’s not where it started for me. First with Kate. The convert. A slumbering Judaism that got reignited when we moved to Shadow Mountain and found Congregation Beth Evergreen. Rabbi Jamie made it easy for us to be there, even pagan me. Friends that we made made it home.

    It was those friends who engendered the aha that decided me. Those who enter the sanctuary, the mah tovu implies, make the sanctuary sacred. Our friends. Now, after Kate’s death, my friends. My sacred community. Here in the Rocky Mountains. Among the Mountain Jews. Which now include me.

     


  • Taller than its neighbors at Elk Meadow Park, Tree #3

    Beltane and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Occurred to me today that I can honor any tree I want. Doesn’t have to be in my yard though I imagine the bulk of them will be.

    Today I had a blood draw in Evergreen so I drove up Stagecoach Road to one of the many trailheads for Elk Meadows Park. Got out of the car and walked over to the main path. On the left side of the main path was a stand of Lodgepole Pines. Though the elevation was only 7,700 feet they seemed to be doing fine.

    Probably influenced by reading Wild Trees I chose the tallest of those in the grove for my honoring.

    A sense of the Park
    The tallest in this shot

    This Tree grows in a small Grove on a slightly sloped area. A Colorado Forestry website says Lodgepoles prefer a slight slope and this Tree has found one. Like my Lodgepole Companion most of their Branches push out from the Trunk toward the Southeast. Also like my Companion this tall Lodgepole has almost no branches toward the Northwest.

    Its lower Branches contained fewer male sex organs than my Companion, but shared this characteristic with its neighbors. Further up they began to proliferate. About two thirds of the way up a row of Branches had female Strobilus that were taller and fuzzier than the others. Don’t know what that means, but some of Tree #3’s neighbors had the same pattern.

    The softer, yellowish pine cones are the male organs. The more erect one in the middle is female which will transform over time into serotinous cones. Serotinous cones have heavy pitch sealing the precious seeds inside. Only the heat of a Forest Fire will cause the pitch to melt and allow the seeds to disperse onto the scorched earth.

    When you live in the Mountains, it is so easy to drive past the Trees, seeing them only as a barrier to accessing the slope of the Mountainside. Or, to see them and think they’re all alike. If you’ve seen one Lodgepole, you’ve seen them all. They do share many characteristics. Altitude and soil preferences. Monoecious reproduction. A thin bark. A susceptibility to Fire, especially Fires that advance from Crown to Crown. The hardest for smoke jumpers and hotshots to control.

    Yet they are all different. All unique individuals expressing their full potential in that one spot where they grow, adapting their Branching strategies to the microclimate of other Trees, position on a Mountain, shelter or not from Storms, the nutrient value of the Soil.

    The bark of Tree #3

     


  • P.E.T. Scan

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: P.E.T. Scans. Radioactive tracers. Bar mitzvah. Torah portion. Service prayers and blessings. Thyroid blood draw. Euclid, a wide sky deep space telescope. James Webb. Hubble. Our local cluster. The Milky Way. Its outer arms. Our home there. Three Body Problem. Wild Trees. Trees as my way in. Colorado Trees. Shadow Mountain Trees.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Universe. (and, thanks for all the fish!)

    One brief shining: Sometimes my mind wobbles when it considers the Universe, this vast interconnected web of all things to which we are intimately yet often over unimaginable distances connected, then I have to turn to the Lodgepole out my window, those Mule Deer munching on Dandelions, the astonishing human body, this Mountain on which I live and my mind says, oh, I see, and steadies itself.

     

    June 2019

    P.E.T.* scan today. An injection sends a chemical that binds to prostate cancer cells and carries a radioactive signal readable by the positron emission tomography machine. Where it lights up. Metastases. If it finds some, a new treatment plan will follow. Possibly back on the familiar Orgovyx and Erleada. Possibly radiation. Depends. Might find nothing right now though we know some cancer has begun to grow again due to my rising PSA. If nothing lights up, I’ll stay off the drugs for now. Probably another scan if and/or when my PSA goes up further.

    Scanxiety. Who knew? It’s a real thing. Any cancer patient is familiar with it to some extent. That tingle that comes with another lab draw, waiting for the results. Or, imaging. Hunting for tumors. Mets. Like I’m having today. I have scanxiety. It’s mild. But not feeling something would seem weird to me.

    Who wants to have metastases confirmed? Sure, it helps identify treatment modalities that will extend my life, but… Who wants to need treatment to extend their life? My rational self knows ignoring my cancer would bring certain death. Not soon, but certain. As a result, I’ll get in my car and drive to Sky Ridge Hospital once again. Wait 45 minutes for the tracer to circulate throughout my body. Lie down and let the highly sophisticated machinery take a look.

    A week from Thursday I’ll talk to Kristie, see what the results mean. Whatever the scan shows, it will not result in a cure. That’s settled. But prostate cancer is manageable. And this is the way that happens.

     

    June 4th Kilauea eruption and the Milky Way

    Just a moment: Kilauea erupts! Again. It’s one of the most active Volcanoes on Earth. Kate and I stayed at Volcano House for two weeks, a National Parks Hotel in Volcanoes National Park. We became acquainted with this vast Shield Volcano, with Halemaʻumaʻu, the caldera home of Pele, the Hawai’ian goddess of fire, with the offerings native Hawai’ians left on its rim. Flowers. Alcohol. Shells.

    May I say that this photograph soothes my scanxiety. This vastness and our living Earth. Together. As they and we are.

     

     

    *How does it work? PSMA, short for Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen, is a protein found on the surface of prostate cancer cells. The “imaging agent” consists of a chemical that binds to PSMA, honing in on prostate cancer cells wherever they are in the body. Attached to this binding chemical is a radioactive “reporter.” Patients are given a one-time injection of this combination molecule into the bloodstream, “tagging” prostate cancer cells. The patients are then given a scan with an imaging camera that “lights up” areas where the molecule has accumulated—i.e., sites of prostate cancer (see photo above).

    PSMA PET imaging may help guide your treatment plan.


  • I’m Into Something Good. Oh, yeah…

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Cool night. Elk. Mule Deer. Fox. Great Sol. The Great Wheel. The Great Work. The Jewish Year. Wild Trees. Ancient Forests. Sequoias. Coastal Redwoods. Bristlecone Pines. Kabbalah. Shekinah. The Sabbath Bride. Emergence. Lodgepoles. Aspens. Jewitches. Love. Justice. Compassion. A direction, a purpose. A way to live.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Emergence

    One brief shining: Before the closing of the door and before I even open it, I stand hand over my eyes repeating the shema, declaring that I, god-wrestler, find the one to be all and the all to be one, which we might call god or not, but we can call it for sure the interdependent web of all things, all becoming things, everywhere there is a where, stretching from me in front of my bedroom door to the other reaches of this universe, passing by the Crab Nebula and the Horse Head Nebula on its way to a boundary where there can be no boundary.

     

    I’m into something good.* Said this this morning during the Ancient Brothers. An exciting burst of serendipity, synchronicity, plain old enthusiasm. Heading toward eudaimonia. Wow. Sounds manic as I write it. Has some of that flavor. The shovel that uncovered this new path? A dream. And the Dreamers’ response to it.

    And… Here we go. I’m going back to Wabash College. At least that place I was when I was there. Serendipity note: the Herman’s Hermits song below was released in 1964, the summer before my last year of high school, and before my mother’s death in October. Another serendipity note: Herman’s Hermits.

    When I went to Wabash, I had competing emotions, both so very strong. The first. Grief. Unresolved, not understood, in no way dealt with. Mom was dead. I left home to go to this school, at the time highly competitive, and bare my small town intellect to so many others so much smarter than me. Grief and uncertainty. Toxic at best.

    The second. Finally! A liberal arts education. A chance to get into the cultural deposit of the West. (It would be many, many years before Asia showed up in my life.) Philosophy. History. English Literature. Languages. A chance to grow beyond my autodidact years, guided by professors and stimulated by fellow students. Hard to convey the excitement, even relief, I felt at starting college.

    Then German happened. I wanted to read Hegel, Nietzsche, Kant in the original. So I signed up. And floundered. Bad. Got c’s and d’s on quizzes and tests. Where this headed was clear. Abject failure. I did not do the brave and movie worthy thing. Face up to it and overcome. No. I dropped German like a hot potato masher hand grenade.

    At the end of the year summer jobs were hard to find and Wabash was expensive. I decided to go further. Leave Wabash altogether. I’m not big on regret, but this is one of them for me.

    The dream. Said. Go back. Be who you intended to be. The one that got lost along the way. So who was I going to be, the 18 year old version of this 77 year old. I wasn’t sure of anything but my desire to dive headlong into the deep waters of the liberal arts. Where would I come out? No idea. Didn’t want to know. I only wanted the journey. No destination.

    I’ve made a journey, but got off the path of liberal arts, shunted aside by politics and religion. By alcohol and women. By travel and jobs. All ok, all good. Yet not where I wanted to be.

    Now. The tarot card, the Hermit, hangs rendered in neon over my breakfast table. Herman’s Hermits remind me of the year before college, feelings accelerating, ground speed increasing. I’m also reminded of my first response to Kate’s death. I’m going to be a hermit. Hence, the neon. Last year I wrote a one-act play introducing Herme, the Hermit, and Cold Mountain’s poetry. And the dream says, go. Teshuvah. Return to the highest and best you.

    A semi-hermit, a sometime recluse, a happy loner. But one with the permission to study, to write. To go back into the liberal arts and see if, as Israel: God-Wrestler, I can add to the world my own learnings.  About the Great Wheel, the Jewish liturgical year, trees and plants, about process metaphysics, about religion, about poetry and literature, about transformation and metamorphosis. These are the lenses through which I have learned to see the world.

    Next. Organizing my days, weeks, months, years around this Fool’s Journey. After that. On to the diving board, spring up and down. Out into thin air.

    *


  • A Summer Evening. Dreams

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: A summer night. My Lodgepole Companion swaying gently, soaking up Great Sol’s singular gift. A Light Eater. (just got this book) Dreams. Dreams suppressed but not forgotten. The dream group with Irene: Irv, Sandy, Jane, Clara, Susan. Zoom. Chinese food. Evergreen. Its evolution. Changing demographics. Felonious guilty, guilty, guilty.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Hush Money Jurors

    One brief shining: Like you, I imagine, I looked at the headlines, typefaces bold and big, pressing up from the mast head, yes, yes, yes, at last a verdict, a consequence for this man, one venal, shallow, desperate man, who has been my President but never my President, and yet, and yet, a man nonetheless, one with the same generous gift granted us from the long arc of evolution, this body and mind, this ensouled flesh.

     

    OK. As much fun as it is to chart the long voyage of Felonious Sinsbad, I’m gonna stop. For now.

     

    Most of all I want to acknowledge a summer night. Last night. I drove over to Evergreen for a meal at the Coal Mine Dragon restaurant with Joanne, Rebecca, and Terry. A good time was had by all. Around 8 pm we finished and I drove home in the uneven light of a Mountain evening. The temperature hovered in the mid-60’s, gradually declining as I went up in altitude from Evergreen on Brook Forest, then Black Mountain Drive.

    Green Grass, Aspens lit up with chartreuse leaves not yet mature, Willow’s golden with new branches, Red Osier Dogwood bright against them both. The various Creeks and Streams flowed peacefully, calmer now following the powerful runs from last week’s rain. The Lodgepoles of course as backdrop for them all, climbing each Mountain I drove past. The trees of the Arapaho National Forest all well-watered and ready for a season of growth.

    Dusk finds Mule Deer and Elk out for a late meal though I saw neither on the way home.They were enjoying the evening, too, somewhere else in the Mountains.

    Driver’s side window down I drove my usual speed, slower now than in the past, what I consider a speed safe for my Wild Neighbors. The muted light, Great Sol already obscured by the Mountains, but not gone, the comfortable temperature, the Mountains climbing above me, the Creeks and Streams flowing beside the road.

     

    Earlier. Another session with those Irene calls The Dreamers. A collection of folks spread out: Santa Fe, England, Half Moon Bay, Evergreen, Conifer. This time only Sandy and I had dreams. Irene put them in a bowl and drew my name so I started. This one was old, May of 2021, but one that has never left my consciousness. I had never discussed it before yesterday.*

    Not gonna say a lot about it here except to note that the conversation about it has, I think, pushed me much further along the trail. Feeling the latter day purpose of my life growing clearer. I have been trying to give myself permission to lean into study, serious study. And more writing. Perhaps in an Ancientrails style, perhaps fiction. Both? Yes, lifting the veil. Seeing a rich and powerful next chapter emerging.

    Will require more thought, organization. Some decisions about focus. Yet I can feel all of that beginning to surface. At last.

     

    *”The Dream. This was at Wabash, my first college: Several women, including a dean, asked me to return, finish my studies. The men in the dream were rigid, angry. In general and at me. Following the lead of the dean, I said yes. I remember calculating in the dream, “Yes, even now after 56 years.” I can still study, write, learn.

    At a gateway out of the administrative offices a German Shepherd lunged at me from beneath a cloak and proceeded to lick my face. After passing through the gateway, I was put in a fiery chair with some other men. It burned them but was cool to me.

    I had a strong sense of longing, a keen desire to go back, be a scholar/student again. A writer.

    This dream feels important, more so than many of the others I’ve had recently. Not gonna conclude much about it right now. Any ideas, impressions: welcome.”

     


  • Tradition

    Spring and the Purim Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: My son and Seoah and Murdoch. Kathy. Cancer. Morning darkness. Taxes done. Ruth and Gabe. Barb. Alan. Joanne. Tallit. 77. Blood pressure low. Ruth’s graduation on May 18. Surrender. Dreams. Irene. Mountain melting. Slow. Snow. Graupeling.* Yesterday. Spring. The scent of Soil, the odor of sanctity. Mountain Streams ready for their big show.

    *A precipitation that forms when supercooled droplets of water condense on a snowflake.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Taxes

    One brief shining: Heated up the simple Pinto Beans, got out some crackers and a mineral Water, peeled a Tangerine, carried them downstairs, and sat down weary from a day of writing, working out, dreams, and rituals. Ah.

     

    The days of our lives. Three days with Ruth and Gabe. They come, deposit their various shoes at the door. Gabe purple Converse tennies. Ruth oxblood boots. Go to their respective rooms, designated by long habit. Gabe in the mural painted “children’s” room. Ruth in the guest room.

    Ruth drove them up in her Subaru, the official car of Colorado. They stopped at King Sooper’s to buy groceries. I thought they’d buy food for meals. Forgot they’re teenagers. Mostly snacks. In addition vegetarian corndogs, a box of mac and cheese.

    Gabe is an early riser; Ruth a night owl like her dad. We talk. Laugh. Go out to eat.

    At the 202, a Thai spot in Aspen Park, I ordered a spiciness level of 1. They both went with 4. Jon would have, too. Ruth remembered and wanted the Sticky Rice Custard. Oh, so good.

    The two of them have been coming up here since Kate and I moved here in late 2014. Ruth was eight and Gabe six. Jon brought them up here frequently, often to avail himself of our washer and dryer, but we got to see the kids.

    When Jon and Ruth went skiing at A-Basin, many times Jon would drop Gabe off with us and pick him up later that night after a full day of skiing. Ruth told me she finished her first Harry Potter on those trips.

    Skiing bonded Jon and Ruth. As did art.

     

    Just a moment: Timber framing. Traditional carpentry. The route of an American Jew to the restoration of one of Roman Catholicism’s most well-known cathedrals, Notre Dame. Found this article fascinating. Timber framing is a traditional form of carpentry that any one familiar with Japanese or Chinese woodworkers would recognize. It uses mortise and tenon joints, wooden pegs to hold joints together. It was also the most advanced form of construction available when Notre Dame was built. The restoration of this Paris landmark has focused on original materials and methods, meaning work for timber framers, stone masons, stained glass artisans, sculptors, and metal workers focused on techniques of the high middle ages.

    Hank Silver’s story fits in with Charlie’s List. These pre-modern building technologies could reduce the currently heavy carbon footprint of contemporary construction. Let’s build homes from stone and timber framed roofs. Stores and office buildings, too. Let’s employ, at a living wage, those folks for whom college holds no interest, but working with their hands does.


  • Elegiac

    Imbolc and the waning Ancient Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Evergreen Medical Center. Snow. Hoar Frost and Snow on the Lodgepoles. Diane. Marilyn and Irv. Dreams. Frustrated early lives. Mom. Dad. Mary and Mark. My son and his Korean life, Korean wife, Japanese Dog. Mussar. Tire Rotation. Finding a friendly place for Ruby. Low tire pressure sensors. Luke. Leo. Janice and Ginny.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Big O

    One brief shining: That moment when, after getting up, I turn to my bedroom window to see how much Snow came down while I slept, even today at 77 a bit of a young boy’s Christmas eagerness rises. Happened again just this morning.

     

    Some Snow. Colder. Not the big, Tourney Snow. Not yet. White and fresh outside. These late Winter Snows have an elegiac feel, their wetness, their heaviness speak of a warming fallow time, one willing, reluctantly willing, to give way to Spring. Even though I love Winter and don’t like the heat of Summer I find myself urging Spring on. When the days warm between Snows, a fresh odor of sanctity arises from the Mountain Soil. Visions of Flowers, running Streams, Fawns and Calves, soft breezes dance in my head. Oh. Achoo. That too.

    Not sure why but this Winter has felt long to me. As if it’s beginning to overstay. Even so the moisture of these last rounds of Snow are so important for us. Filling our tiny Aquifers that feed Water into our wells. Protecting us from Fire. Reminding us that beauty in the Mountains comes in so many different forms.

     

    Read about rotating tires. A good thing. Winter tires, expensive tires. Want them to last as long as possible. Used to get them rotated at every 5,000 mile oil change but since I got Ruby the synthetic oil goes 10,000 miles. Thought rotating the tires was just Toyota trying to get me back as often as they used to. Wrong about that. Took me a while to tumble to this.

    Anyhow yesterday I had it done at Big O in Evergreen. No charge. Yay. Friendly people, close by. Stevinson Toyota is down the hill. Gonna have these folks handle my tires and oil changes.

    Oh, and another thing. These new fangled cars with all their computers and sensors. My low pressure light had been on for a couple of months. I knew it was faulty because it would go off for a day or two, then come back on. May have them all disabled. Somehow I survived over 50+ years of driving without them and I find them annoying.

     

    Just a moment: Going to Globeville on Monday to talk with the owners of the Rocky Mountain Land Library. They previously owned Denver’s most loved bookstore, Tattered Covers. Don’t know where this conversation will lead, but I hope I can find a niche at the Land Library for my earth-centered, human focused passion for creating a sustainable presence for humans on this planet.

    Yesterday at breakfast with Marilyn and Irv I said again, out loud, that I’m in a nothing to prove phase of life. That I want to read, learn. Revisit and befriend the young scholar I once was. Let him guide me and my time. Yet. I also have another me that wants to act in some way, have an oar in the Waters of change.

     

     

     

     


  • Rights of Nature

    Imbolc and the Ancient Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Ancient Brothers. Mario in Nice. Paul in Maine. Bill and Tom in Minnesota, land of the forgotten winter. Me on Shadow Mountain. Video of tumbleweeds invading towns in Utah and Nevada. Living their best life. Mark and sunrise in Hafar. AI. My son. Seoah. Murdoch. Seoah’s sisters and Kai, the writer. Korea. Mary in K.L. Diane in S.F.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Rights of Nature revolution

    One brief shining: This time Zoom picked up a feed from Globeville, a largely Latino neighborhood just off I-70 that houses the expanding campus of the National Western Stockshow, which today featured folks around a plank wood table with those of us in Vail, in the San Juans, on Shadow Mountain, in Leadville gathered to talk book, this Rights of Nature book which may be pointing the way forward for the Great Work.

     

    Quite a while ago Mario read in the New York Times an article about the Rocky Mountain Land Library. This would be great for you, Charlie, he wrote. I’d read the article, too, and agreed. I got in touch, but it was too early for volunteers. Then Kate got sick and though I followed its growth some, I couldn’t get involved.

    Yesterday I had my first real interaction with them on the Rights of Nature book club. An hour and half. There were 17 people in all, 10 at the Land Library’s Globeville office and five of us on Zoom. An eclectic group that included college professors, a Southwest Colorado Federal Conservation official, a microbiologist with a graduate degree in theology in Vail, a Leadville participant engaged in a statewide Responsible Tourism plan, animal rights activists, attorneys, and two folks from the Land Library.

    The conversation inspired me, stoked the fires. Even in this weighted sample of folks already interested, the rights of nature idea often felt like a bridge too far. The Conservation woman wanted achievable goals that built community support. Personhood for a river? Way too far.

    The woman from Vail with the theology degree asked me to comment on Thomas Berry’s book, the Great Work. So I did. “I consider it a core work. In it he says it is the Great Work of our generation to create a sustainable presence for human beings on this earth. He moved me to turn aside from economic justice work to focus on climate change.”

    Surprised me but I then had the group’s attention. At the close one of the leaders of the Land Library asked me if I thought the Great Work would be good for another book club. Yes. It’s short and easy to read. Unlike, btw, The Rights of Nature which is a good book, too, but neither short nor easy.

    All of this dovetails with the work I’m doing in fits and starts on Charlie’s List. It occurred to me that I may have an opening now to reconsider work with the Land Library. Believe I’m gonna take it. Bound to be a mitzvah.

     

    Just a moment: Caitlin Clark passed Pistol Pete Maravich’s tier 1 NCAA scoring record yesterday. Wish I could have been there. Women’s b-ball is having a long minute. Bout time.

     


  • The Rights of Nature

    Imbolc and the Ancient Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Tara. Joanne. Jamie. Ginny. Janice. Scott. Wild Mountain Ranch tenderloin. The Rights of Nature. New Zealand. Maori persistence. The Whanganui River. Its legal rights. Constitutions that protect the rights of nature. My Lodgepole companion. Tree huggers. Regenerative farming. Land as itself, not property. Shadow Mountain. Its rights.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Rights of Nature legal revolution

    One brief shining: So I tried the Pomodoro method yesterday, work intensely for 25 minutes, 5 minute break, do that three times, take a 30 minute break, and found it helped me keep reading and not get distracted by oh, an e-mail, wait I’d like something to eat, maybe I should put that new light for zoom together; it’s for working on a longer project requires focus.

     

    No. I’m not going back to the work world. I like to increase my productivity if I can though and will try different methods from time to time. Right now I’m trying to get this book, The Rights of Nature, read by Saturday for the Rights of Nature bookclub. Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Land Library it’s in the sweet spot of my passion: our world and how we humans can live within it. Over time.

    If you want to feel better about our species, you might find this book worth a read. It summarizes the theoretical (jurisprudential?) movement of the same name. This legal movement is active in many nations around the world including the United States and Canada. It tends to gain ground through individual lawyers and certain types of NGO’s like the Community Environmental Defense Fund and GARN, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, though in some places like Ecuador mass political movements have played a role, too.

    New Zealand has made important advances in their legal system by giving personhood to the Whanganui River and a former National Park with the unusual name of Te Urewera. It means burnt penis in Maori. Apparently a chief rolled over onto a fire and died there. Both the Whanganui and Te Urewera now own themselves and have human advocates who can file lawsuits and speak on their behalf to the New Zealand government. Imagine if the Mississippi had the same rights as a corporation Which is also a legal person in the U.S. Or, Shadow Mountain. Or, Lake Minnetonka. Or, Lake Superior.

    You might recognize that this movement has roots in the lifeway of indigenous people. It does. The Maori played a key role in changing New Zealand’s laws. A Maoriiwi,tribe, championed the Whanganui river personhood because the river is central to the iwi’s identity.

    Gonna add certain of these NGO’s to Charlie’s List. I’m beginning to see a web of interrelated ideas, actions, and groups that are already at work building a sustainable human presence here on Earth. For the future of humans as a species this is work that has to be done and done now.

     

    Just a moment: On Netflix. The anime series Blue-Eyed Samurai. This is a story of Shogunate Japan when Japan had closed itself off from the world. The plot follows a blue-eyed Japanese child, a pariah because of the child’s Portuguese father, one of four white men in Japan at the time. He raped the child’s mother. Revenge drives the story.

    For anyone familiar with the Ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the same era in Japan, you will see the careful attention the animators have paid to them as they created this series. Japanese puppet theater also gets a central moment.

    This is adult fare and a complicated, compelling story rendered in the most beautiful anime.


  • Bullfights.

    Imbolc and the Cold Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Snow. Big Snow. Cold night. 13 this morning. A fine Shabbat. My reupholstered couch. Ackerman’s. Reorganizing, again, those books that have infiltrated the living room. Feels so good. Getting facile with my bar mitzvah Torah portion. Wild Mountain Ranch. Regenerative farming in Boulder County. Bullfighting and its cultured despisers. Great Sol. Dependable.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: El Toro

    One brief shining: In 1995 I bought a ticket at the Plaza del Toros in Mexico City, sombra, and went into the largest bullfighting arena in the world, most notable initially were the steeply sloped stairs leading up and up, the entrance to each row of seats marked with tin Corona cerveza buckets loaded with ice awaiting thirsty patrons, blue and white emblems on them, I sat down, only four rows from the arena itself, unsure what to expect.

    Found my notes from the bullfight. It was 1993, not 95. And the cerveza buckets were more toward the bottom of the arena, fewer toward the nose bleed seats.

    The Plaza del Toros is circular with a large ring in the center where the bull’s lives play out. The concrete rows of seats go up steeply from a wooden fence that separates the first row from the ring. Inside the ring itself wooden fence like structures provide protection for bandilleros and even toreadors. A gate on the side of the arena furthest from my seat opened for the march of the toreadors.

    Writing about this because an article in the New York Times announced that the Plaza del Toros reopened last week on January 28th after a two-year hiatus. Animal rights groups succeeded in a temporary ban and have cases before the Mexican courts now to ban bullfighting all together. Until those suits play out the largest bull ring in the world will continue offering bull fights.

    This dovetails with a book I started reading yesterday, The Rights of Nature: a Legal Revolution That Could Save the World. I’m in a bookclub out of the Rocky Mountain Land Library that will discuss this book in March. In the first chapter I read the author, David R. Boyd, writes about how it takes time for cultural change to occur. His references reminded me of Thomas Khun’s Theories of Scientific Revolution. Slowly. Slowly. Then all of a sudden Great Sol replaces Earth as the center of the Solar System.

    Boyd believes that the animal rights movement, a Mexican contingent of which shut down Plaza del Toros for two years, will occasion such a cultural shift about animals and that that could undergird the movement to finally give the rest of the Natural World legal rights. Ecuador has already done this as has New Zealand and 22 other countries to varying extents. May it be so.

    Will finish up about the bullfight but wanted to underscore here the Rights of Nature movement. It’s a really big deal and coming soon to a state or national constitution near you.