SoCS: snow

It’s been an odd fall/winter season here in upstate New York. We had a lot of snow in the second half of fall and then not much since.

Until yesterday.

We were originally in a 4-7 inch band but overnight got bumped into 6-12 inches. When the snow started, it came down fast, between one and two inches an hour. (Sorry that I can’t do all the centimeter conversions in stream of consciousness, but 1 inch is about 2 and a half centimeters.)

I wanted to shovel during the storm because it can be hard to move deep snow all at once at the end of the storm. I had ambitions to keep the driveway and walk relatively clear.

Well, as it turned out, ambitions, but not enough strength.

The snow was very heavy, the kind that packs really well but is a bear to shovel because it sticks to the shovel, making it difficult to throw onto the snowbank. If ABC were still living here, we would have had fun making snow-children with the sticky, packable snow. They don’t tend to get a lot of snow in London, though. Maybe I should have made a miniature snow family and sent her a photo. When E and T were young, we used to make smaller snow figures instead of Frosty the Snowman size ones. It was easier for little hands – and very cute besides!

Because it has not been a very snowy winter here, we don’t have much snowpack to speak of. That’s not much of a problem here because we tend to get adequate precipitation throughout the year. I know that some places need to depend on the snowpack for water in the spring and summer, though, so I hope those regions are getting plenty of snow.

When I was growing up, my dad, known here at TJCM as Paco, worked for New England Power in the hydro division. They had several reservoirs and hydroelectric stations along the upper Deerfield River. I remember Paco and his crew going up into the woods to measure the snowpack and how much water it was holding so that they could predict how the spring run-off would be. They wanted to be able to fill the reservoirs and control the flow in the river so that it didn’t flood – or, at least, didn’t flood too badly. In those days, with climate change impacts not as pronounced as they are now, they were able to predict things pretty well. Paco has been retired for a long time and doesn’t live in that area anymore, but I’m sure his successors have a more challenging time assessing run-off from their snowpack measures.

Everything is so much more unpredictable nowadays.

In a lot of ways, but that would be another (several) posts…,
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “(un)pack.”  Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2020/02/07/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-8-2020/

“Moonrise” by Kyle Laws

My friend, fellow Boiler House Poet, and Pushcart Prize nominee for 2019, Kyle Laws, has a new poem up on Amethyst Review. For some reason, I couldn’t get the reblog to work, but you can find the poem here:  https://amethystmagazine.org/2019/12/21/moonrise-a-poem-by-kyle-laws/
This is the photograph by Barbara Jabaily on which the poem is based.
photograph by Barbara Jabaily

Enjoy!

Fire in the Amazon

Large swaths of the Amazon rainforest are on fire. Media tends to call these wildfires, but the vast majority of them are intentionally set. I think of wildfires as being caused by lightning strike or an accidental spark. When fires are set intentionally, they should be called arson.

While the current scale of the fires is new, the problem is not. For years, farmers and ranchers have burned parts of the Amazon rainforest to clear land for themselves. They have been opposed by indigenous people and their allies, some of whom have been killed trying to defend the forest.

The fires are devastating for the plants, animals, and people who live there, but the scale of the destruction now threatens the very mechanism that makes the rainforest possible. The vegetation, especially the large, tall trees, transpire large quantities of water, which form clouds and help to keep the rainforest green. If too much land is burned, the amount of rainfall will decrease so much that it would be impossible to sustain a rainforest ecosystem.

Plants also take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. It is estimated that 20% of the world’s atmospheric oxygen is produced in the Amazon. As more and more of the rainforest is destroyed, the level of oxygen in the air that all people and animals need to breathe could diminish, while the level of carbon dioxide, already at record highs, could become even higher, accelerating global warming and increasing drought, which diminishes plant growth and causes a downward spiral.

The government of Brazil is making only half-hearted measures to control the fires and has refused the assistance of other nations. President Bolsonaro is a climate change denier, who sees this issue as being solely about the economic development of Brazil. His short-sighted actions may cause world-wide suffering for decades.

It highlights to me how interconnected we are as a planet. At this point in human history, we can’t afford countries being isolationist and concerned only with making their rich citizens even richer.

Money can’t buy oxygen or make more rainfall or change the temperature.

Haiti project

In these divisive days around the US elections, I have been clinging to any positive news of people reaching out and offering love, hope, and acceptance. I want to share this story from this past Sunday at my church.

There is a parishioner who co-teaches a service learning course at the local community college. Part of this course is a service trip to Haiti, to a village in the northern section of the island. The church has raised funds and donated materials for the projects on a regular basis over the last several years, so she gives us periodic updates.

The group went to Haiti in October. Because of flooding and hurricane Matthew, the village had endured damage to many of the mudbrick and straw buildings, but other repairs had already been made. The water system that protects the people from water-borne diseases was back in service. The two-classroom school that was part of the earlier iterations of the project had re-opened. Two more classrooms will be added soon. They and the adjoining church, which also serves as a community gathering place, are powered by solar panels and there is enough energy storage to allow the children to do homework at the school after dark, using LED lights. Computers that were donated are part of the school curriculum. There is also a newly-opened sewing school with donated machines that is helping local people learn a useful trade.

Last year, land was cleared for a community garden which grows food for the schoolchildren’s lunch. They had been growing staples like corn and beans which can be dried for later use, as there is no refrigeration available. The community had decided to grow rice as well, which wound up being a fortuitous decision; when the floods came, the rice crop continued to grow nicely and they just had their first rice harvest, with many bags of rice in storage for future school lunches.

The school lunch program is especially important as many of the children will eat their only meal of the day at school.

School costs the equivalent of $25 a year, but that sum is too much for some of the families, so there is a new scholarship fund in place to help more children attend school. There is also a plan to add a kitchen with solar ovens to the school, so that the cooks who make the school lunch can also bake breads and pies for sale to benefit the lunch program.

The people in the village are filled with hope, as they work steadily toward making their lives safer and more comfortable with the help of their friends and partners from our area.

We all need hope. We all need to reach out to each other, to help each other, to recognize that every person has inherent dignity.

Thank you to the villagers in Haiti for reminding me of the power of hope.

 

SoCS: drinking problem

I have a drinking problem.

But probably not the kind you are thinking of…

Because I have a condition called interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, I can’t drink a lot of things that most people do.

Some, like coffee, are not a hardship for me to not drink because I don’t really like them. Same with black tea.

I do wish I could drink green tea, though. I can drink some herbal teas.

Soda and other carbonated things are no-nos!

Fruit juices are problematic as they are too acidic. I need to dilute them or take pills to counteract the acidity.

I do drink milk sometimes, but have had to give up one of my favorite drinks, hot cocoa, as chocolate is another irritant.

What I drink most of the time is water.

Which is safe, but a bit boring.

Oh, well.

Wells do bring us water…

(And, for the record, I don’t drink alcohol.)
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “drink.” Come join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2016/06/24/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-2516/

 

SoCS badge 2015

 

a study in contrasts

This afternoon, I attended the first in a series of six sessions studying Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ (In Care of Our Common Home).  In a small group and then with the whole room, we had been discussing access to clean drinking water as a human right and how that right is denied to so many now, either through the mechanism of climate change or through inequitable distribution and use of water resources.

I was listening to the radio as I drove away and heard a story about how most McDonald’s restaurants are now serving breakfast all day, but, due to kitchen limitations, each had to decide whether to serve biscuit sandwiches or egg McMuffins as part of all day breakfast, as there wasn’t room for both.

The contrast was stark.

I wish that we were hearing more, speaking out more, and doing more about water rights, here in the United States and around the world, especially the access of those who have limited financial means. Also, climate issues, peacemaking, social justice, and global initiatives to end poverty.

Egg McMuffins versus sausage biscuits? Not so much.

Water, women, and Jesus

Yesterday was World Water Day and the lectionary readings for today were also about water, including the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, all in the month of March, which is Women’s History Month in the US.

Women and girls are most likely to be dealing with water access and pollution problems as they are usually the ones most in charge of fetching, carrying, cooking, washing up, laundering, etc., especially in the parts of the world where clean hot and cold water do not run abundantly from the tap, as they do for me and my neighbors. Water is a necessity of life and access to it is a justice issue.

In the gospel story, it is a woman who comes to fetch water from the well of Jacob, her ancestor. She is in a socially vulnerable position, female, a Samaritan, sexually exploited. Yet Jesus asks her for a favor and engages in conversation with her, breaking with the norms of the society both on gender and ethnic grounds. What is even more astonishing is that he reveals his identity as the messiah to her and that she, despite her lack of community standing, becomes an apostle of the Good News, one who “goes and tells” others of salvation.

Preaching on this gospel often revolves around the woman’s sinfulness, because she has been married five times and is living with a man who isn’t her husband, but Jesus, although he tells the woman that he knows this about her, never condemns her for it or discusses any need for forgiveness. He offers her the living water of the Spirit, truth, salvation, and the love of God, which she gratefully receives and, energized, brings other people to meet Jesus so that they too can encounter him and believe that he is the messiah.

The woman, unnamed as are many of the women who encounter Jesus in the gospel, stands for all the other nameless women who are exploited or marginalized because of their gender or their ethnicity. Her modern descendants in spirit might live in Syria, Sudan, Ukraine, or might be victims of human trafficking in Thailand, Brazil, the US. God offers radical, unconditional love, not guilt or blame about their exploitation.

We are called to do the same.