Life-giving snow

We love the sight of the brown and ruddy earth;
it is the color of life, while a snow-covered plain is the face of death.
Yet snow is but the mask of the life-giving rain; it, too, is the friend of man,
the tender, sculpturesque, immaculate, warming, fertilizing snow.
                                                        ~ John Burroughs

Out my window, February 25, 2021

Today I’m grateful for the foot of snow we received during the night. Colorado is experiencing extreme drought and wildfires are definitely in our near future, but right now I’m embracing this gift from the skies. And because this is a climate emergency, I don’t care if this sounds greedy: “More, please.”

‘Merica, amirite?

On our way up the street for a hike in the open space (our much-needed break from the coup attempt by the terrorists** white nationalist fascists), I was disappointed but not at all surprised to see this sign still prominently displayed in front of a house:

In case you missed it, this sign loudly proclaims POLICE PROTECT US and
VIOLENCE IS NOT THE ANSWER.

Sure, dude.

I can’t help think about how Standing Rock protestors fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline were hit with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets during the Obama administration.

Or how over the past year of historic protests and marches for Black Lives, militarized police forces around the country brutalized protestors.

Or how almost exactly one year ago, 37 climate activists and I were arrested and jailed for singing a song outside the Colorado chamber as Governor Polis (Democrat) gave his State of the State address. We later learned from a former CO state legislator about an incident in which a spectator yelled a death threat during a legislative session. That person (a white male) was merely escorted from the building. No handcuffs. No fine or charges. No jail time.

What’s happening today as the entire world watches? Cops are taking selfies with the terrorists** white nationalist fascists who broke into the capitol.

This isn’t a shock. An armed militia entered the Michigan capitol in April 2020 , legislators in session wearing bullet proof vests, and nothing was done about it. Violence has not only been tolerated, but encouraged, throughout our nation’s history. This country was built on genocide and white supremacy, and only certain kinds of dissent are allowed. The police only protect a certain demographic.

Same as it ever was.

** edited to replace my use of “terrorist” after reading this tweet:
https://twitter.com/bodega_gyro_ao/status/1347245711482646530
absolutely not my intent to amp up the “war on terror” with added policing, surveillance, etc. that would target other groups

Oh happy snowy day

Colorado is getting much-needed precipitation today. While Zippy and I agree we’d prefer rain to snow, we’re gratefully accepting this weather. Even the sub-freezing temperatures. Whatever it takes to smother the wildfires.

Because it’s too cold to venture outside with my camera today, here’s a representative photo of a squirrel from a snowy day last February.

February 9, 2020.

If you look closely, you can see the snow on its nose as a result of it burrowing along the branch.

My state’s on fire

American Robin. December 16, 2019.

This photo was taken last December, but it feels fitting for today because the robin is looking to the north. As I write this, people are being evacuated north of here due to the East Troublesome Fire that exploded from about 35,000 acres to 127,000 acres after 60 mph wind gusts last night. The fire jumped the Continental Divide. Rocky Mountain National Park is on fire. Homes are burning. East Troublesome Fire is currently the fourth-largest wildfire in Colorado history.

Colorado has been on fire with multiple wildfires for the last four months but I’m told I must vote for the presidential candidate who believes climate change is real, yet keeps telling us he opposes a Green New Deal and won’t ban fracking. I’m told I must help the Democrats reclaim the Senate by voting for the candidate who drank fracking fluid and opposes a Green New Deal. It doesn’t matter to them that I’ve spent much of those past four months inside as my lungs can’t handle the smoky air; I owe them my vote.

I’m angry and exhausted and just about cried out.

In it together

Mourning Dove. September 19, 2020

Mother Earth needs us to keep our covenant. We will [. . .] commit to our descendants to work hard to protect this land and water for them. Whether you have feet, wings, fins, or roots, we are all in it together. ~ Winona LaDuke

Foliage and fury

I took this photo almost exactly one year ago, a fair representation of what the contoneaster in my yard looks like right now. So why didn’t I just step outside to get a current picture? Because it’s smoky. Still. And I don’t want my lungs burning. Again.

October 7, 2019

I can’t emphasize enough how damaging these months of Colorado wildfires (not to mention the fires raging throughout the western US) have been not only to the environment but to our collective health, both physical and psychological. Trapped indoors while the climate crisis worsens and those in power do absolutely nothing to avert worsening disaster. Colorado has a Democrat governor and Democratic-controlled House and Senate. But hey, Vote Blue No Matter Who.

Anyway, Happy Monday.

This is a climate emergency

August 15, 2020

What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?     ~ Henry David Thoreau

Zippy took this photo last month and while today’s air quality isn’t nearly so orange, I’m not spending any time outside. The local air quality index reads “Unhealthy for sensitive groups.” I’ll go out on a limb and say I think this translates to “the air is unhealthy for everyone and everything.”

Exceptionalism?! All over the United States, people are hiding indoors to escape the ravages of the climate crisis. And our elected officials don’t care, so it’ll only get worse.

Let it snow

February 7, 2020

Colorado continues to burn and those of us living along the Front Range are being told to create “safe rooms” with air purifiers.

It was undoubtedly a stupid thing to do, but Zippy, Emma, and I walked early this morning. We’ve been trapped inside for days and couldn’t take it any more. I wore my mask and we walked at a leisurely pace. No heavy breathing as we went up and down the hills of our neighborhood. Partway through the walk, Zippy remarked on the thick air and put on his mask. Overall, we felt okay.

Just now, though, I stepped outside to get the mail. I was only out about thirty seconds, but as soon as I came inside the coughing started. I’m now closed off in my writing room with the purifier. The coughing has subsided but my lungs are burning.

Colorado had a Senate candidate (Andrew Romanoff) who centered his campaign on the climate crisis and a Green New Deal. He understood what’s at stake in this climate emergency. So how did the Democratic establishment respond? Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and Colorado’s governor (Jared Polis) stepped in to crush Romanoff in the primary and prop up the oil and gas candidate (John Hickenlooper). Thanks to their interference, this November I’ll have the “opportunity” to vote for Hickenlooper (and Biden). Basically, a ballot filled with candidates who’ve  made it clear they don’t much care about the people or the planet.

The most I can hope for at this point is that the wildfires are contained by the general election.

Welcome, green

This photo of my front flower bed contains invasive stuff. Grass, Creeping Bellflower, and whatever tree-start that is. Do I mind? No. Not when everywhere I look outside it’s hot and dry and brown and smoky and yucky.

July 16, 2020

I welcome all shades of green.

Wishful thinking

I spent the day in bed reading a Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin detective novel. A wise choice for my physical and mental health, I think. Why? The wildfires continue to rage in Colorado and when I checked my phone at one point today, the weather alert said “91 degrees. Smoky.”

So, it’s no shock that when I dipped into Pixabay just now in search of an image that resonated, I landed on this:

Image by Muhammad Ridha from Pixabay

Tonight I shall dream of rain.

Colorado’s on fire: we need a #GreenNewDeal

I live in Colorado. There are currently four wildfires burning around the state. Here’s a tweet from a Colorado journalist this morning:

I can usually see downtown Denver from my front yard. The last few days the buildings have been obscured by a smoky haze. Right now, I can see the tops of some buildings. But that “good news” is deceptive. I just spent about ten minutes outside, thinking it was okay because there wasn’t a strong odor of smoke. Wrong. I’m now coughing and my lungs are burning.

Just over a year ago, I participated in our Sunrise Movement hub’s first art build. We gathered to create a banner to pressure the Colorado Democratic Party to vote for a presidential debate focused solely on climate.

Our first art build on July 24, 2019. Boulder, CO

Our pressure worked and the representatives for the CO Dems voted YES to a climate debate. However, Tom Perez and the Democratic National Committee shut down our voices. There was no climate debate during the presidential primaries, despite the fact that the majority of people in the U.S. want meaningful action on the climate crisis.

Only two presidential candidates (Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) included serious climate plans in their platforms. Bernie’s earned an A- from Sunrise Movement. The presidential candidate the establishment contorted themselves to install as the party nominee? Well, Joe Biden earned an F-.

My state’s experiencing a years-long drought and record-high temperatures and is literally on fire right now. Except for Rep. Joe Neguse, none of the Colorado congressional delegation supports a Green New Deal. The Democratic representatives all understand that climate change is real, but unless they push for bold and meaningful action, they are no better than the climate deniers in the Republican party.

Meanwhile, Colorado burns.

Thankful Thursday

It’s hard getting out of bed these days. I eventually got myself upright and after my morning ablutions, I reached for my hoop. For twenty minutes, I hoop-danced in front of my living room window. My mood lifted and I felt more energized. As I danced to the music, my eyes kept going to the purple coneflowers in the front garden bed and I told myself I’d photograph them when the dance session ended.

Purple Coneflowers. July 16, 2020.

Today I am grateful for these flowers, for my hoop, for music, and for my climate activist friend who’s currently reading my middle grade novel to make sure I didn’t misrepresent anything. Also? I’m glad I got out of bed.

Thankful Thursday

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and I felt an array of not-so-pleasant emotions. Rage was high on the list. I’m doing a little better today, in part because I’m focusing more on what keeps me going during hard times.

Open space. April 1, 2020

Today I’m grateful for the many ways nature soothes my soul.

Knock-knock

Zippy and I knocked on doors for Bernie Sanders today. We started out together because he’d never canvassed before, but after one block, Zippy confidently headed out with his own list.

The day was a beautiful experience, in multiple ways. One, it was sunny and downright balmy (high 40s) which was a welcome reprieve after this week’s frigid temperatures and yesterday’s blizzard. Two, we started the day with about 50 enthusiastic volunteers, including a couple with a cute-cute-cute baby. Three, I had some really great conversations with voters I contacted. And four, it was gratifying to canvas for a candidate I truly believe in (as opposed to knocking doors for a lesser evil).

As I said in several of today’s conversations: I’m not naive enough to think our problems will be solved merely by electing Bernie Sanders. We have a lot of fights ahead of us if we’re going to turn this ship around. But the beauty of Bernie’s campaign is that he welcomes we-the-people in those fights. He knows he needs us and he embraces our participation because we will only win if we stand together to fight for the common good (which includes a Green New Deal and Medicare For All).

Bernie Sanders is the one candidate with an army of people ready and willing to take to the streets for equity and justice. Today, I was proud to be a Bernie Bro.

Sunday Confessional: the true image of my Self is sometimes pure chaos

Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed, the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed. ~ Indra Devi

House Finch. January 25, 2020

At noon today, I was getting focused and situated at my desk for the afternoon’s revisions when I received a text from a climate friend with a request that blew up those revisions plans. And guess what? I’m totally cool with that because sometimes To-Do lists are overrated.

Sometimes we gotta let in the spontaneity and chaos. Sometimes those elements are the purest reflection of my true Self.

Me asking for help

A few days ago I posted about getting arrested and jailed with the young people in our local Sunrise Movement hub. I took the post down when I realized it might somehow be used against me in court. Today I’m back with a link to our GoFundMe page for legal costs.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/urgent-legal-fees-needed-for-co-youth-activists

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Please don’t feel obligated to donate, but I thank you in advance if you do throw a few dollars our way. And if you see fit to amplify the message in your social media, I also thank you.

Solidarity!

We all got arrested

That’s me in solidarity with some of the best and bravest young people I know (Sunrise Movement cohorts) just minutes before we were all handcuffed and taken to jail. Our crime? Asking to be heard on the climate emergency. Asking for justice for the Bella Romero Academy community that has a fracking site less than 700 feet from the school. Asking for a just transition for oil and gas workers so they can have safe, good-paying jobs that don’t poison the environment. Asking for that just transition to focus on the marginalized people and communities most affected by climate injustice.

Waiting to be processed by law enforcement officers after interrupting the State of State speech by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in the state Capitol Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Some of the 38 activists arrested were in jail 30 hours. An 18-year-old high school girl was released at the same time as me: 28 hours after arrest. Many of us (white women of privilege) feel an even more urgent need to (also) fight for prison reform. Speaking only for myself, one day in that system was extremely stress-inducing, demoralizing, and disorienting. I thought I knew how bad it was for incarcerated people, but I absolutely didn’t fully understand the emotional toll. The experience was frequently dehumanizing and traumatic.

I have SO MANY thoughts and feelings about those hours. But because my brain is still in recovery mode, I will just say this: We can and must do better.

For the people and the planet.

Celebrate, honor, and protect

When my friend Laura tipped me off to today’s significance, National Bird Day, I went in search of an appropriate bird photo. Oops. I could look at bird photos for a looong time. So many beauties to choose from. I forced myself to make a decision and settled on this dapper Blue Jay.

Clearwater, Florida. May 3, 2019

Birds are the canaries in the climate change coal-mine. Today and every day, I celebrate their existence. I can’t fathom a world without them. We must make big changes and quickly. #GreenNewDeal

Adopting an attitude

Holding my head high as we head into this new year and decade.
No apologies as I fight for the planet and all inhabitants.
Won’t always look as regal as this bird, but messy is okay.
Achieving a Green New Deal is all that matters.

Mexican Jay. Cave Creek Canyon Ranch, May 16, 2019.

Didn’t mean to turn my back

I’m pretty consistent about posting here, not because I have a following that waits with bated breath, but because this blog is like a record of my life. The documentation helps me keep my memories in order.

Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay. December 8, 2017

I didn’t post the past two days and it wasn’t because I turned my back on this ongoing life project. But as a result of not posting, I feel a bit anxious about those holes in my “official record.” I’ll do a quick update.

Friday, December 6, was another Global Climate Strike. I rode the light rail into Denver and then met my fellow Sunrise Movement (Colorado) activists at 10:30. We marched to the capitol, chanting and singing songs. There were maybe five hundred people total? The rally was inspiring and informative, and I loved hearing perspectives from a diverse range of young voices.

Afterward, our Sunrise group went to Governor Polis’s office to deliver climate action demands and request a meeting. Earlier efforts have been ignored. So this time we stuck around for a while. Three hours of a sit-in that included more storytelling, chanting, and songs. We left his office peacefully at the end of the day, walking and singing out to the rotunda where we slowly collapsed to a die-in. As we lowered ourselves in silence, we covered our faces with black bandanas that said either TIME’S UP or WHAT’S YOUR PLAN?

It was my first die-in and I loved it. It was a meditative and profound experience to lie on that cold marble, motionless as capitol activity continued around us.

And Saturday? I spent much of the day reading Running With Sherman: The Donkey With the Heart of a Hero (Christopher McDougall). The book inspired me to run that afternoon for the first time in two weeks. (Note: Denver metro air quality is frequently too unhealthy for running. See “Friday.”)

I’m back at my regularly scheduled life today, taking care of things that need doing. Answering emails. Worm bin maintenance and feeding. Adding words to my work-in-progress. Posting on this blog. Wishing everyone a good Sunday and much good stuff in the coming week.

#GreenNewDeal and fighting for a livable future

I spent Saturday and Sunday with about 35 passionate young people dedicated to fighting for a Green New Deal. Our local hub of the Sunrise Movement (Sunrise Colorado) held a training retreat in which national organizers shared strategies to help us in this fight. It was an amazing weekend and I felt SO. MANY. EMOTIONS.

I cried at the beginning when we all shared who and what we were fighting for, and I cried at the closing when we sang together. But I also laughed a ton, learned much, and felt lots of hope for the future.

The Sunrise Movement has already gained much more traction on the climate crisis than I’ve seen in my lifetime. PLEASE consider donating a few dollars to my hub to help us continue this vital work. https://secure.actblue.com/donate/sunriseco

Or if you’d prefer donating to the national movement, you can do so here: https://www.sunrisemovement.org/

Thank you in advance.

Thanks a lot, October

Deck and red maple tree on October 10, 2019.

Yesterday we had a high of 80 degrees which then swung to a low of about 20 degrees today. We’re currently at a balmy 25 degrees. Hooray?

I’m praying to the goddesses that we don’t lose trees and shrubs as a result of the temperature swing. The last time this happened, many trees and shrubs (including our own) died. And I’m talking old, well-established trees. It was heartbreaking. The only upside to this current situation is that the snow might provide enough insulation to keep them alive. Last time, there was no moisture involved in the temperature swing.

I’m beaming toasty thoughts to the trees and shrubs. Please hang in there!