On rabbits and drought

When glancing out my window the other day, I briefly thought someone had tossed a rabbit carcass in our yard. Happily, this bunny was very much alive. The same can’t be said for our “lawn.”

May 15, 2022

The neighborhood has been bunny-rich for the past several years and they’re slowly eating away the grass, leaving behind larger and larger bare spots. Fine by me. Colorado is in extreme drought (I learned this morning that the current statewide snowpack is 53 percent of median) and none of us should be dumping water into lawns. The good news? We’re supposed to get rain (and snow!) on Friday. I’m hoping for more rain than snow because the trees and shrubs are leafed out and that extra weight will break limbs. Still, let it rain OR snow! Whatever needs to fall from the skies is one hundred percent welcome here!

Here’s one more bunny pic to calm the climate anxiety. These two started fussing with each other and became so aggressive they frightened the above dirt-lounger into hiding. They chased and tussled all over the place, including in the iris fans and lavender.

Here’s hoping they’ll be tucked away somewhere warm and dry during Friday’s storm.

Feathered friends

Today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued what is basically its final warning to governments (“it’s now or never” regarding greenhouse gas emissions), and my heart is pounding as I type those words. We the people need to rise up and demand radical action. Unfortunately, here in the U.S. our so-called leadership is actually talking about ramping up fossil fuel production. It’s insanity.

And when reality gets to be too much, I turn to nature. Today, it’s birds. Here’s a Limpkin I had the honor of communing with at Kapok Park in Florida:

May 6, 2019

Here’s a petite Bushtit outside my Colorado window:

September 24, 2021

Here’s a Turkey Vulture doing its important clean-up work in Cave Creek Canyon in Arizona:

May 15, 2019

Finally, here’s a Common Grackle singing its song in Nebraska clover:

June 2, 2020

And now I’m going to use the energy I’ve borrowed from those wonderful birds and head out for a run on the trails where I’ll drink up more of this glorious world.

This is a climate emergency!

Another wildfire in Boulder, Colorado.
In March.
Following the Marshall Fire in December.

NCAR Fire on March 26, 2022

Zippy and I were heading out of a very windy Boulder this afternoon when he saw the smoke and exclaimed, “Wildfire!” As I drove, he took the above photo at 2:30 (about 30 minutes after it started.) At times, we could see the bright red-orange flames. As we continued driving south on Highway 93 with our windows rolled up,  smoke odors permeated the car. The air was hazy. Our beautiful afternoon was suddenly filled with anxiety.

This was our first time in  Boulder since the Marshall Fire and our appointment had taken us past areas devastated by that fire. Blackened trees reaching for the blue sky next to homes that were nothing but smoke-stained brick and concrete foundations. Rubble. We’d gotten emotional at those sights and then, an hour later, saw the smoke of yet another wildfire. It was happening again.

The climate crisis is a collective trauma for everyone, but especially those who just three months ago experienced a wildfire. My heart is with the people of Boulder. I’m not sure what it’s going to take for those in power to make radical changes to avert the worst of what’s to come. So far, the crisis has accelerated to wildfires any time of year.

Dear Democrats

As Congresspeople return from vacation to their well-paying jobs today, there are actions around the country in support of #SealTheDeal for the full $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. Because I’m unable to join the others on the streets today, I want to say this:

and this:

and this:

and remind Congress of this:

Lastly, in regards to the Parliamentarian spewing nonsense about not being able to fund items in that reconciliation bill:

We see you, Democrats.

#NoClimateNoDeal

It’s fitting that smoke obscured this photo of a coal plant I took as we drove past on Saturday.

Craig Station. August 7, 2021

We’d been camping at Rifle Falls State Park and woke to the valley filled with wildfire smoke. We quickly packed up and left. Turned out, the entire western half of Colorado was (and continues to be) choked with smoke from wildfires in the northwest. There was no escaping it.

I’ve spent much of the past several days closed off in my bedroom with an air purifier. My climate anxiety was already high and then the UN released its climate report yesterday. (Just typing those words sent a surge of anxiety throughout my system.)

I called my Senators and Representative today, all wealthy white men from Colorado which has been experiencing the worst air pollution in the world, to urge them to drop their incrementalism and vote to save humanity. The Democrats stuck us with a bi-partisan infrastructure bill (something the loathsome yet highly disciplined Republicans would never, ever have done) and we desperately need the reconciliation bill that addresses climate and poverty. The Progressive Caucus in the House is saying #NoClimateNoDeal if climate is stripped from the reconciliation bill and I can only hope they, for once, hold firm. However, I’m not naive enough to believe they’ll use their power to do the right thing. Time and again, they go along with the status quo that’s currently killing us.

Still, I think it’s well-worth a couple minutes of everyone’s time to call their representatives to demand they vote for the people and planet. Demand they keep the reconciliation bill intact. The Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121
#NoClimateNoDeal

Thank you in advance.

Twofer Tuesday

I struggled to get out of bed this morning, knowing air quality was abysmal and that temperatures would (again) reach the high 90s. I finally hauled myself upright and for the second run in a row, ran inside on the treadmill. While I’m grateful to have that option, it’s unnerving to run inside during the summer.

I’ve dipped into the photo archives from the days of yore, when wildfire smoke didn’t choke the air and I could spend hours outdoors. Here are two of the many American White Pelicans I saw paddling around at Barr Lake State Park last April:

April 8, 2021

I find them quite stately despite those bumps on their bills. I hope they continue to do well, wherever they are.

Oh Be Joyful

We did end up going to Crested Butte last week and were blessed with rain almost the entire four-hour drive. That much-needed precipitation cleared the air of wildfire smoke and the drive over Cottonwood Pass was absolutely delicious. Green-green-green with a smattering of wildflowers.

We spent one of our nights at Oh Be Joyful Campground and hiked partway in on the Oh Be Joyful Trail. Here’s a taste of what we saw:

July 15, 2021

The wild asters were more abundant than we’d ever experienced, but this wild rose also caught my eye.

Zippy and Emma

The five-mile afternoon hike was balm for our souls. And after running three-plus miles that morning, we eagerly welcomed bedtime.

Especially the short-legged doggo who  could barely keep her eyes open after we returned to camp.

A truly joyous experience.

Frogs in boiling water

This morning I woke to Unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke and so chose to run inside on the treadmill. The good news is the 25-minute run worked its usual endorphin magic and I felt much better afterward. The bad news is that while we’re clearly and obviously experiencing climate collapse, we’re all just going about our daily lives.

By James LeeFormerIP at en.wikipedia 

The young people of the Sunrise Movement, desperate for a chance at a livable future, worked their asses off to help elect Biden who, compared to Tr*mp, at least gave lip service to climate change. But is Biden really better than a climate denier when his administration boosts a tar sands pipeline that will cross indigenous lands? (While also, by the way, further enriching the already incredibly wealthy Susan Rice, who is an aide to Biden.) You either believe we’re in a crisis and use the enormous powers of your position to enact policy to mitigate the worst effects OR you say all the right things while continuing to coddle the fossil fuel industry.

Boiling frogs.

Zippy and I planned to head to the mountains tomorrow for cleaner air and cooler temperatures (which I recognize is an absolute luxury not available to most people), but now we’re torn. Because does it make sense to drive to Crested Butte when that area is also experiencing Unhealthy air quality? Will we even want or be able to hike out to see the wildflowers?

Apologies for being a downer, but I cannot pretend the climate crisis isn’t happening. This frog wants cooler temperatures.

Climate Collapse

This weekend has been deathly hot in the Pacific Northwest. You know, the part of the country known for moderate temperatures and lots of moisture?

Parts of Michigan are flooded right now after receiving 7 inches of rain yesterday. SEVEN INCHES OF RAIN IN ONE DAY!

Detroit. June 26, 2021

In a sane world, the powers-that-be would be mobilizing to address the climate crisis. They’d be making huge changes RIGHT NOW to minimize climate collapse. I mean, they see these photos. They live on this planet with the rest of us. Sure, they’ve got money and power, but their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren will be affected. They can’t all take rockets to Mars.

What’re they doing instead? Bowing down to institutional tradition. Bloviating about bipartisanship and preserving the filibuster. They care more about appearances and being the so-called adults in the room than working to ensure a livable future. The Democrats have ALL the power and refuse to wield it.

Why? Because they don’t care.

I loathe the GOP with every fiber of my being, but I give them credit for using their power to advance their agenda. The Dems are just spineless upholders of the status quo. Unfortunately, that status quo is quickly marching us toward an uninhabitable planet.

When the going gets tough

We woke in the middle of the night to the smell of wildfire smoke. Zippy shut off the swamp cooler and closed all windows. It’s only June and wildfire season has begun.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Since early May, I’ve run every other day and that routine has been crucial for my mental health. I haven’t yet missed a running day and when I got up this morning, I felt so many emotions about the climate crisis and the lack of political will to do anything about it. My despair mounted and, more than ever, I needed to run. The good news is we have a 20+ year-old treadmill (that’s gone through multiple running belts over the years) and I ran on that for 25 minutes. I pounded out the miles, my mind clearing as sweat slicked my skin.

This afternoon I made the mistake of going on Twitter where I came across this tweet:

And I began to spin some more, the anxiety and rage building. So, did I hop on the treadmill again? Nope. This time I began rereading one of my very favorite books:

I highly recommend any book by Cynthia Kadohata, but especially THE THING ABOUT LUCK which is funny and tender and makes my heart sing. *happy sigh*

I have to keep reminding myself that electoral politics is not going to save us. We the people must rise up as one and stand together against the rich and powerful. In the meanwhile, I’m focusing on mutual aid in my community in addition to lots and lots of running and reading.

This day’s been hard, but I’m still standing.

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.