when the skies turn all shades of grey and boil and spin across the flat earth
picking up leaves and twigs and bits of paper and plastic
and anything not tied down
and even then sometimes
that lays in the path of the winds and rain
spitting and driving eastward until the sky has shed whatever burdens its heart
and turns soft and gentle and still once again
spent and weary from the rage we fear it carries
perhaps it is in response to our crude selfish ways
of clearing and razing and shearing down trees and grasses
of poisoning the water
and soiling and littering the earth
an angry reminder of our miniscule stature
but deadly impact of our every action
one more cry
but all it falls on our deaf ears
overshadowed by our ego and misunderstanding of connection and consequence
it merely reveals our fear
and our own anger
as we curse and blame
when the skies turn all shades of grey and boil and spin across the flat earth
I was watching the news coverage tonight from Watertown, Massachusetts, as the events unfolded and new information was revealed.
The news fascinated me in so many ways. For one thing, the two suspects were not nameless and faceless people. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were young men who were integrated into our society and lived the life, to some extent, of Americans. We were shown their faces, met their relations, heard from classmates and friends, and given some information about their backgrounds. And one thing kept coming back to me about the younger man – he is only 19 years old, the same age as my niece.
It was refreshing to have this human aspect somewhat intact through the whole ordeal. I am upset by what they did, and can see the possibility of more fearful situations creeping up in my life having witnessed the ease of their deadly actions, but I kept in mind the fact that they are human, just like me. I never wished for them to be killed. I hoped they would end up in custody alive. Maybe some sense of closure would be possible with more information from them in the end. Maybe because I am realizing as I get older that an eye for an eye is not the way to find justice. People are misled, misunderstood, silenced, depressed, misguided, and afraid. Fear is a driving factor to so much negativity in the world. And I would bet the two brothers had a good dose of fear in their own lives – and perhaps that drove them to strike out at the world.
There appeared to be some sense of calm throughout this ordeal. I was surprised to see so many people rush toward the smoke and site of the blast as soon as it happened. People were generous with their on-the-spot bravery and instinct to help someone in need – regardless of how gruesome or dangerous the situation. The numerous videos and still shots that were shared by people undoubtedly contributed to identifying the suspects in such a short time. When the people in the city of Boston and the surrounding areas, including Watertown, were told to stay in and off the streets, they complied and let the law enforcement teams do their jobs. Tips were given when something suspicious was noticed, providing valuable extensions of the eyes and ears of the police, ATF, military, and other officials responding to the situation.
It seems like we have all gone through enough terrorist situations in this country that maybe we are starting to realize the cumulative strength that is found in cooperation, holding back our own fears and anger, and realizing that the culprits are also human – not just monsters. And maybe…these experiences will show us how the rest of the world has been living in fear for so long, so that when we see bombings happening to other people we will discover some compassion for them.
Maybe my physical distance from the bombing and manhunt allow me to see and remember these human aspects of both sides of the equation. And, I imagine if I were to experience something like this firsthand, I would likely have different things to say. All in all, I hope I would still see the human threads, and realize that fear drives so many people in so many ways.
I am glad the young man is still alive. I hope he will have something to say that paints a better picture of why he and his brother did what they did. And, I hope he can come to terms with his fears and find a way to see the world in a better light. A world that he doesn’t want or feel the need to extinquish – by killing other people or by killing himself.
My heart goes out to those directly affected by this ordeal. Their lives will never be the same, and I hope they will be able to carry on with some semblance of peace.
For the past 15 years I enjoyed dining out in Vermont. Not just for the wide variety of fresh foods available at the local restaurants, but because of the educational conversations that went on around me.
Now, I wouldn’t exactly call myself an “eavesdropper,” but this is the type of thing that happens in Vermont.
One day I found myself dining with friends at a popular Montpelier eatery. The group of three at the table next to ours was rapt in a fascinating conversation that started with national politics, and extended to an analysis of the word “sustainable.” This sparked a conversation about some of the same topics at our table—one that was continued long after we left the restaurant.
I was still thinking about the issues it raised the next day when I got a call from a woman doing a research project concerning local farming. When our phone conversation took a more philosophical turn, I heard her begin to echo some of the same issues from the restaurant conversation the previous evening, I said, “That’s funny. I ate out last night and the table next to ours was having almost this very conversation.”
There was a pause on the line until she said, “That’s funny. I ate out last night too, our table was having this conversation, and we remarked on how the table next to ours had picked up the same thread.”
There was another pause on the line which was broken by both of us beginning to recount our evenings, comparing details of where we ate, who we were sitting with, what time it was, et cetera.
I don’t have to tell you, of course, that she and I indeed turned out to be the two people at the neighboring tables in the same restaurant the evening before.
This is one thing I loved about Vermont. It’s not six degrees of separation, but just one. One degree of separation between you and somebody else who cares just as much about Vermont’s agricultural identity and having access to local foods.
Pssst. Pass it on!
This is a short story I wrote earlier this year, and submitted to Three Minute Fiction.
There is a small plate in the house where I live. It happens to be my favorite. Simple, off-white, with two dark green stripes following the curve around and around. I can’t tell if it was originally a creamy white, or if it became a bit off-color over the years from use. Maybe it was someone’s favorite plate. Or maybe it was a forgotten one, a mismatch from the start. And the reason it’s still here today is because it has been waiting to be used and cherished, at the risk of being broken and thrown away.
One day I turned it over to see where it came from. I’m no expert on dishware, but I thought that because of its weight, and the assumed age, several generations perhaps, it was china.
Buffalo China U.S.A.
My heart sank. Tears filled my eyes as I held this simple object, and re-read the words in disbelief. I was so saddened and moved by the thought of what I might be holding in my hands.
In an effort to eradicate or ‘civilize’ the people native to the plains, millions of buffalo were shot by hunters on horseback and by passengers on moving trains. Carcasses were left to rot, leaving huge piles of bones. Some of the higher quality bones were shipped East or to England, ground up, burned into ash and made into fine china. This slaughter successfully took away the indigenous people’s source of food, shelter, clothing, and many other basic materials provided by the buffalo. Most importantly, decimating the buffalo populations was a direct assault on their strong ties to the earth, spirit world, and a way of life.
“You need to lighten up a little.”
I turned toward the voice, bringing me out of my initial shock of discovery. I hadn’t even heard my friend Alea come in the door.
“What?” I said, still absorbed by the images in my mind. I wiped tears from my face.
“What are you crying about?”
“Oh, nothing, I suppose. Nothing important. I was just having a moment.”
Alea slowly put down her bag, shrugged her jacket off of her shoulders, and sat down at the kitchen table, watching me. The saucer was still in my hands.
“Nice plate – is that the source of your ‘moment’? I agree it’s pretty, but why the tears?”
“Never mind. Would you like some tea?”
“Sure,” she said, still watching me carefully, realizing I might be fragile.
I turned back to the shelves, with the urge to check out every cup, saucer, plate and bowl to see what they were made of, just so I’d know. But I shook my head to snap out of it. I had invited Alea to come over for some lighthearted conversation – a break from our busy and intense work days.
“Are you sure you’re ok? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“You’re pretty close on that one,” I said thoughtfully. “I guess we never know when we’re staring them in the face. That’s the scary part. We are so used to objects made from artificial materials, we’ve become separated from the true connections to life on this planet – and what was once real and important in our lives.”
“Now you’re really confusing me…”
“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you about it some other time. Hey, what did the ghost teacher say to her class?”
“I’m afraid to ask…”
“Watch the board and I’ll go through it again!”
“You, are strange.”
I have been challenged with finding/making time to write blog posts since I started this blog about two months ago. I keep saying to myself, I’ll post tomorrow…or tonight…or… But as you can see from my archives, I have not written in any consistent manner.
Fortunately, I noticed a Freshly Pressed blog by Malinda Essex called, 3 Things I’ve Learned From a Month of Blogging. Her words reminded me of why I started my own blog, and inspired me to get back on track and do what I spent so much time preparing to do.
I have been interested in blogging for a while now. I never really read blogs, or subscribed to any (yet!), but I knew it would be a great way to organize my thoughts and put them down…well, not on paper, but in print. I know that when I write, and share what I have to say, amazing things happen. I understand myself more and get a perspective on how I see the world. I also see how my thoughts are received by others. Sometimes I am surprised at how what I have to say can have an important impact on others’ lives. I think this last one has been the most encouraging by showing me that yes, I can and do have an impact on this world.
Blogs can change the world…one blog, one reader at a time.
Today was a rather interesting day. The weather started out heavy, grey and soggy, coaxing all of the green things out of their buds and shoots and into their bold spring attire.
I drove from Montpelier to Barnet this evening just after a rainstorm, which revealed a crystal blue sky complete with a spectacular rainbow. My path home followed it for almost an hour. It was a beautiful, albeit treacherous ride as I followed it along swollen rivers and through small villages, stealing glances at the brilliant colors and marveling at how it appeared to be so close.
But my favorite part of the drive was seeing all of the people who pulled off to the side of the road to snap a photo, or just to bask in its bright colors. Many people stepped out of their homes and smiled, ever so peacefully, at the sky. It felt as if we had not witnessed such beauty in a long time. Perhaps the weight of the world, from tsunamis, nuclear fallout, tornadoes, air traffic controllers asleep on their watch, and shifts in familiar paradigms has clouded our view.
At least we were able to step out of our dreary day today and remember … there is still beauty in this world.