Seasons Fading Like Leaves

It’s an off season

but natural in its own right.

There’s no familiar summer, winter, spring or fall anymore

except for dates on a calendar.

Can we explain it away,

simply say the weather is as diverse as people, places, life —

that to live, to be alive, is to change?

Reduce. Recycle. Reuse they say.

But the seasons?

I am a child of four seasons

picking springtime bouquets

chasing summer fireflies

rolling in leaves

and sledding til numb.

As I matured, adult responsibilities pushed childhood activities to the recesses of my mind.  But, I never dreamed the four seasons of my youth would become a distant memory, something to read about in history books of a time that once was.

As a child, leaves fell in September.

A few years ago they began in August.

This year, my yard was covered in July.

Thunderstorms previously endured in June and humidity that marked August are now daily occurrences commandeering the summer I use to know.  Look forward to.  Love.

The seasons have faded like leaves…

Is it a natural progression of time

the human disregard for the natural order of things

or Mother Nature’s retribution?

Spring and Autumn have silently been waving good-bye

but we were too busy, too greedy, too self-centered to notice.

Reduce.  Recycle.  Reuse.

Two seasons:  hot and cold.

two

Hot and cold.

Go ahead…feel the thrill

“Those swings are for kids, not grown-ups.”

“Who says?”

“What will people think if they see a mature woman on them?”

“Do you really think someone is going to arrest me?”

And so the dialogue went between my inner critic and the lure of a childhood thrill when seeing a swing set in a new neighborhood last Sunday afternoon.  Quickly, it reminded me of this photo (appearing in my last post) and my carefree, youthful feelings of riding as high as I could on the swings.

Looking around to see if any neighbors were out — no one was, I walked up the hill toward the swings, paying attention for any signs indicating “adults not allowed.”  The trodden, bare ground under each of the six swings stared up at me.  Oh, yes, I remember now — stomping down the grass, pounding to push-off and ride higher and higher.

I sat down.  Good, the swings can hold me.  (I’m not overweight, but I’m not a slight child either.)  I began to push-off.  Again and again.  Higher and higher.  Soon my hair blew freely behind me, like the woman in the photo, cooling the perspiration off the back of my neck from a hearty walk through this new neighborhood.  Gosh this felt good.  Exhilarating, like when I was a kid.

As previously mentioned (Busy Body Meditations), I do better with movement meditation than attempting to force myself to sit still.  Swinging on those swings was an in-the-moment, mindfulness meditation for me, unleashing pure light-heartedness.

Is there an activity you loved as a child but seems long forgotten?  Have you given yourself permission to feel the thrill once more?  Go ahead, tickle yourself with that sense of delight and see how much lighter you’ll feel.

 

Meditation Protection…

Every now and then my passion for gardening and appreciating nature is punctuated by technology’s increasing thirst to control our lives. To me, these cold and calculating ways are the antithesis to nature’s infinite beauty and serenity. That is why this topic pops up on my blog now and then (no pun intended).

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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

I bumped into an old friend recently who said her eldest child is retired (at age 35). After making and investing his millions as a technological entrepreneur, he and his wife now live in an Airstream, traveling cross-country to hike and explore nature’s magnificence. “He meditates quite a bit,” she added.

This gave me hope that those so addicted to devices will realize the hours they’ve wasted not living real life, or freedoms they’ve willingly discarded by allowing technology to think for them.

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Photo by YIFEI CHEN on Unsplash

My concerns about the ethical crises in technology were confirmed by best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari, and executive director of the Center for Humane Technology, Tristan Harris who explained how people, corporations and governments are using technology to hack human beings. (Harris previously studied the ethics of human persuasion at Google.)

In their When Tech Knows You Better than You Know Yourself interview, these philosophers raised the question:  “Whose best interests should technology be serving — individuals or corporations?  Should apps be as successful (and profitable) as possible which equates to addiction, loneliness, alienation, social comparison…”

“There’s a reason why solitary confinement is the worst punishment we give human beings. And we have technology that’s basically maximizing isolation because it needs to maximize the time we stay on the screen,” Harris said.

Think about that. Really let it sink in. So many have imprisoned themselves with technology. Remember, a prior post on my friend whose brother is addicted to gaming and barely leaves his room anymore?

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Hearing that some children would rather do chores or homework than play outside baffled me. Was it a fear of Lyme Disease,  Zika Virus, or the extreme humidity of global warming? I didn’t want to go outside either in the humidity this summer but didn’t stay tied to a device either.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Instead, I discuss the Tao and hand drum with friends, attend Tai Chi classes, concerts, live theatre and art exhibits.  At home I’m nurturing flower and veggie gardens while playing with my beloved border collie or practicing Qigong. Experimenting in the kitchen and reading a great library book enhance my time. Yes, I love those page turners (literally and otherwise)!

I was thrilled to find Blogtasticfood.com where Nick’s mission is to “post super awesome recipes and get peoples butts in the kitchen.” I love it. Real cooking feels (and tastes) wholesome and nourishing to me. I’d much prefer devoting my time to creating a delicious meal than being consumed by social media, texting or the internet (while eating packaged preservative-laden processed foods). Tactile, personal connections mean more to me than an addictive device.

Frankly, I don’t want Amazon to know right before my light bulbs burn out (so they can sell me more). And I don’t want them to deliver groceries to my door so that I can isolate, and not get any fresh air, exercise, or interaction with my external environment.  “Don’t use it, you lose it,” still rings true.

However, as much as it sounds like I detest technology, I don’t. It’s the addictive aspects and loss of privacy and relationships that concern me. I agree with Harari that, “The system in itself can do amazing things for us. We just need to turn it around, that it serves our interests, whatever that is and not the interests of the corporation or the government.”  In that regard I can understand Amazon delivering food to an immobile person who lives alone.

To reduce the risks of your personality being hacked, Harari suggests first getting to know yourself better and exploring your choices more deeply. Of course, someone who meditates two hours a day and doesn’t use a smartphone is less likely to be hacked than someone addicted to their device he says. Then join an organization of activists for a more powerful voice in making society more resilient and less able to be hacked.

Harari and Harris emphasize, “They’re (corporation or government) about to get to you—This is the critical moment…So run away, run a little faster. And there are many ways you can run faster, meaning getting to know yourself a bit better. Meditation is one way. And there are hundreds of techniques of meditation, different ways work with different people.

You can go to therapy, you can use art, you can use sports, whatever. Whatever works for you. But it’s now becoming much more important than ever before. Protect yourself by getting to know your self.”   This sounds perfectly natural to me.

The National Day of Unplugging is March 1-2, 2019.  I say, “Why wait?”  How ’bout you?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Mother Nature’s Autistic Summer

Summer 2018
Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding.  Scorching heat.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding.  Scorching heat. Bugs extraordinaire.  Make me run inside for shelter.  AC.  A spurt of sun appears.  Some tomatoes wear tough rain jackets, many others split on the vine while unlucky peppers turn soggy rather than red and basil’s aromatic gifts are non-existent this year.  The grill waited to be fired up but the fire and enthusiasm in me drowned out.

What to make of this autistic summer?  Although many people disagree on the “causes” of autism and of climate change, they both exhibit blatantly foreboding signs:

  • Climate change – an increase in the frequency and strength of extreme events (storms, floods, droughts) that threaten human health and safety.
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characteristics –  social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.

Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding.  Scorching heat.  Rainy.  Grey.  Humid.  Flooding. Scorching heat. Bugs extraordinaire.

Six full days at best I could work in the yard this summer, and grill on two.  Tall grass is as unkempt as the autistic’s personal hygiene.   Weeds are poised to take over.   They know I will not be tugging at them in the rain or with mosquitos biting my neck.  Arms.  Legs.  Scratching for relief.  Scratching.  Scratching.  Where is the relief?  Summer use to be a break from the long, cold, stressful winter but Mother Nature’s fighting, hitting, kicking, biting, throwing objects from her autistic corner.  Does she feel cornered?

Autistics struggle with severe anxiety, sensory dysfunction, and deficits in social  communication.  Half are considered aggressive toward others, and nearly one-third of autistic adults are unable to use spoken language to communicate.

I hear the thunderous banging and wailing.  Her words trail behind the clouds…the rain, and tears of desperation.  I see her utter frustration.

Where did all the tomatoes go?

If you don’t start your own vegetable plants — like I usually forget to do in March, you’re probably like me and purchasing starter plants from a local greenhouse.  The problem I always run in to — especially for cherry tomatoes and peppers, is they’re usually packaged four to six plants to a flat which is way more than I need.  Luckily, another customer felt the same so I happily gave half of them away right at the checkout this year.  Still, I ended up with too many, particularly when a few plants returned on their own.  (I never have the heart to rip out and discard these orphans.)

But, I do toss tomatoes that split on the vine which turned out to be about a third of the crop this year.  After giving plenty away, making some tasty bruschetta, salads, and popping into the juicer for some added Lycopene, I’ve frozen several bags for when I’m puttering in the kitchen on a cool autumn Sunday.

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A day’s harvest…

This week I added some of those fresh tomatoes and red bell peppers to a meatless version of a southwestern pie that I make this time of year:

 

Have fun with the ingredients.  Try it for dinner tonight and let me know how you like it.

Rain Rain Go Away

I suppose if I live in North Carolina, I could close my eyes and say that Hurricane Florence is non-existent.  I don’t mean to sound flip but I sure wouldn’t be happy if I lived there knowing my legislators passed laws against climate change data.  But, on second thought, just being an American right now where appointed officials deny the science of global warming is equally disturbing.

Talk about “fake news,” or shall I say propaganda or better yet, follow the money trail?  Situations such as these underscore why I am against letting a computer tell me what to think, rather than making my own observations and decisions.  For the record, I am neither Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative.  I’m not even in the green party although since I love nature and gardening I suppose I should be.   I am simply deeply concerned about what I see happening in my environment, the country, and beyond on our planet.

No need to post photos of Hurricane Florence’s wrath.  (She was only rated a Category 4 storm by the way.)  They’ll be plenty of devastating photos and stories on the news for days.   But, Florence is yet another indicator that climate change cannot be denied through policy.  Awareness is the first step to change but if we continually deny the reality of what is happening, are we simply going to be swept away?  I suppose Mother Nature will let us know…

 

Climate Change – The Diabetes of the Globe

The climate use to be rather predictable.  At least until what we’ve seen recently.  Now, it too has a culture of anything goes.  What is going on?  Like the bad diet, little exercise and unremitting stress that provoke diabetes, haphazard behaviors and practices are radically affecting our globe.

I feel October coolness in August, August heat and humidity in June.  Downpours flooded out July, and April buds bloomed (then froze) in January.  These dizzying peculiarities are akin to the human body expressing more and more serious symptoms to get our attention…our care.  And sagacious change…for survival.

Spiked Numbers

  • Across the USA, fire seasons are two months longer than 50 years ago.  
  • Twice as many acres burn in the States now than 30 years prior.
  • Over 400,000 acres have already burned in California this year.  
  • West Nile virus, virtually unheard of two decades ago, has infected hundreds of thousands of people.
  •  Category 4 storms (winds faster than 155 mph) tripled in the last 40 years.

And to accommodate the more-recent monster storms Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann suggests adding a new Category 6 to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Really?  It’s escalated that much?

Like diabetes running rampant across the globe, too many ignore the symptoms until it’s too late.

Diabetes Worldwide
Comparative prevalence of diabetes in people aged 20–79 years by world regions. Data from IDF Diabetes Atlas (27).

“We have to recognize that by some measures, dangerous climate change isn’t some far-off thing we can look to avoid, ” Mann said.  “It has arrived.”

Until last year, for example, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) averaged a hurricane hit once every eight years and only in the most northern island of Anegada (which is Spanish for “drowned island” by the way).  Yet in 2017, a triplet of hurricanes within two weeks pummeled most of the BVI archipelago — first category 5 Hurricane Irma, then category 4 Jose, and finally category 5 Maria.

A year later the BVI is still trying to regroup.  Many landowners can’t afford escalating insurance rates and can’t afford to rebuild.  Supplies are unavailable for months.  Hurricane Maria, by the way, was the deadliest hurricane in Puerto Rico since San Ciriaco in 1899.  Think about that — the deadliest hurricane in 119 yearsHow can these warnings be ignored?

And like diabetes, it’s not just the weather change that affects us.  It’s the complications ravaging intricate bodily systems that lead to amputations…stroke…heart disease…blindness…neuropathy…complete kidney failure.  But, unlike diabetics, there’s no transplant list for Mother Nature to receive clean air, pure water, or more land.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study indicating that many storm-related deaths are from lack of access to medical care weeks and months after the storm.   Have you considered the devastating global effects of climate change?  Once clean air, water and acreage are eradicated, where will displaced populations go?   How much food and water supplies will be lost?  How many will be infected with West Nile or Zika viruses when the mosquito infestation multiplies from increased flooded areas? 

As with diabetes, ignoring the realities is catastrophic.  The only solution is to change our ill ways and practice healthier behavior.  Put safeguards into place.  Now.  Not after our legs have been amputated.  Not after the storm blacks out the power grid and its ability to provide proper medical attention, food refrigeration, or AC for that matter.  Puerto Rico is the neon warning of what’s to come if we remain unprepared…

Admittedly, I’ve been caught up by global warming.  Particularly after enduring a very wet, grey summer and attending Josh Fox’s masterpiece performance of The Truth has Changed.  I didn’t want to believe things are as critical as they are.  But, it’s not fake news folks.  All you have to do is see and feel what is going on outside.  There’s more to think about now than do I need a raincoat or sweater today?

Fighting for Her Life

Just take a look around and you may agree — this summer has been the exclamation point on climate change.  I fear the daily torrential rains, flooding, high humidity and disease carrying bugs are replacing the usual summers I’ve loved in the past.  Spring has been moving out the last few years.  Summer is packing its bags too.  Seems the oppressive grey gloom of winter is pirating the calendar and the full sun we use to have — one-fifth of the year.

Yet, seeing the global disrespect and exploitation of Mother Nature’s generous resources, I’m not so surprised by her increasingly loud protests through worldwide wrath.

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Like a machete disfiguring a beautiful maiden’s face, we have ravaged her fertile soils, cut down her shade-giving trees, poisoned clear waters, and shamefully killed off wildlife — all for selfish convenience or greed.

Assuming Mother Nature will complacently stand by is as unrealistic as pretending there are no consequences for bad behavior.  She is literally fighting for her life.

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned

Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

—William Congreve’s 1697 poem The Mourning Bride

A woman's fury
Feature photo by xuan-nguyen on unsplash

 

Seeing and Touching Reality

There’s no denying Mother Nature is off balance and the world seems like it’s upside down.  If you want to get a better handle on this and understand the darker sides of climate change, make the effort to see “The Truth has Changed.”   It validates the reality of the global weather changes you are seeing and feeling in the environment.

While I do not agree 100% with all of the views presented, Josh Fox superbly details the trail to climate change as well as why I consciously chose to not be involved with social media or “smart” technology but to think for myself instead.

Josh Fox’s one-man, three-act performance of “The Truth has Changed” will tour across the USA this Fall then be released in filmed version in 2019.  Do whatever you can to see it — live or in film.   His performance is as riveting as the weather changes we are experiencing while literally watching the world go bye

THE TRUTH HAS CHANGED TOUR (TRAILER) from JFOX on Vimeo.

To be Clear
Politically, I consider myself along the lines of Aristotle who “favoured conciliatory politics dominated by the centre rather than the extremes of great wealth and poverty, or the special interests of oligarchs and tyrants.”  Yes, I am of the old-fashioned generation who is receptive to hearing opposing views and negotiating to accomplish a workable solution.  I can understand and even agree with various viewpoints on both sides.

I’d love to hear your thoughts after seeing this incredible production.