Holding Tight To Bliss Road in a Time of Climate Change: Everyday Magic, Day 955

One of the wonders of this world are mountains of maples at the peak of fall foliage, and I was lucky enough to dwell among recently at the Power of Words conference at Goddard College.  The big picture mind-blowing expanses are all around, from a distance golden variegated hazes that upon closer range become crazy quilts of red, rust, orange, yellow, and green. But what really grabbed my heart was the more narrow and up close light in action of the trees and sky, especially when driving up and down curvy and lilting country roads.

The aptly named Bliss Road, near Montpelier, Vermont, is one of those, but so is John Fowler Road, just east of Plainfield, and several other roads that led me up mountain sides and across stretches of brilliance near Marshfield. I followed color and light through dizzying beauty that kept eclipsing itself after days of rain and clouds that showed a more color-saturated side of fall. Heading up one mountain and turning down a long road, supposedly a dead end although I didn’t reach the end of it, I lost the road to the leaves. It was Bliss Road no matter where I went, particularly on paths I walked throughout central Vermont. 

Coming home, I encountered this urgent and heart-breaking update of what many of us knew already but now see in stark contrast: “U.N. Says Climate Genocide is Coming. It’s Worse Than That.” It makes my jaunt through the ancient glories of maple tree nirvana seem like pure escapism, which, to some extent, it was. Also reading the New York Times article “Major Climate Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040,” brought me back to how endangered they and we are as well as how illuminated everything is.

There’s plenty to do on a personal, local, national, and global scale, and while the articles I cited share some of the big-picture needs and dangers, back home on the small scale, I’m realizing how I can no longer be silent when I encounter climate change deniers, figuring — as I did in the past — that eventually they’ll “get it,” because while they and all of us will, in horrendous ways that multiple human and more-than-human species suffering beyond what many of us imagine, it’s clearly past time to speak out.

My friend Lise on a blissful path at Goddard College

So I’m saying here that if you also love traversing blissful paths or roads — wherever that is for you — and want to keep marveling and moving through this beautiful life; if you love your or others’ kids and grandkids; if you believe in the sanctity of life, then let’s have these hard conversations, draw on real science and deep love of each other and life. Whatever we can do  for the big picture (writing congress people, joining and contributing to groups, supporting initiatives such as carbon taxes and other ways to make sure cooler heads and temps prevails) and for the intimate picture of our daily lives (reducing our carbon footprint, conserving water, diving into the hard dialogues with family or friends who deny what’s happening), we need to do for our endangered and illuminated lives.

Long live Bliss Road, and may we be wise and strong enough to keep walking it.

A Museum for the Particularly Curious: Everyday Magic, Day 503

The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, Vermont is a place for the curious, eccentric and more-than-easily amused. So that’s where my students and I went for our field trip today, over hill and dale for 27 miles east until we arrived at the museum, which is like a museum piece itself with its monster-sized red bricks and garlanded stone lions.

Step from one display to another, and you’ll see three-inch long Chinese slippers for women, mummified dog legs, snow flake prints contrasting what happens between -14 degrees and 30 degrees, and miniature Victorian living rooms. There are also birds: many, many, many birds, taxidermized within an inch of their deaths, and gleaming in their display cases that sort them out by continent.

Nothing blows the mind as much, however, as the bug art. We’re talking about 10,592 colorful beetles arranged into stars, a portrait of Lincoln and quilt-like art. Or this design composed of thousands and thousands of butterfly wings. “Where did people find the time to do this?” one of my students asked. But the greatest fun was watching some of our Goddardites look at the art, read the description, and then generic cialis 20mg india yell out, “Whoa!” when they realized just what (and who) went into each portrait.

A lot also went into the stuffed animals, some of great size and texture. The bears — polar, grizzly and the like — greet you upon arrival. Besides being greatly imposing and obviously dead. they’re just gigantic talismans of the wild, reminding us of what’s beyond our usual view. Here, you can look closely at the size of claws (huge) and the composition of Indigo Bunting feathers (vivid). There was also a gorgeous gallery featuring photos of lightning over varied landscapes, and a giant globe that, if you touched the controls, you would turn into Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon, or the Earth at night, during hurricane system, if and when the water levels rise, and in ancient maps.

By the time we finished padding around upstairs and down, around the corners and down the halls, I felt refreshed by the unusual and unusual juxtapositions. Kind of like what we study, explore and investigate here: like with unlike, and between the fields and traditions, all kinds of sparks that make for greater warmth and light in the world.


In Love With Vermont & Homesick For Kansas: The Folly & Wonder of Being Multi-Placial: Everyday Magic, Day 502

It’s no wonder that I’ve had several conversations with students and friends lately about being multi-placial, that is, being someone deeply bonded to two or more places. I’m at home (aka the dorm) in Vermont, sitting at a window at twilight, in love with the height of and light around the pines in the cooling, dimming air. At the same time, I miss Kansas — the way the light tilts differently there, the smell of the air, the sense of home. The folly is that when I’m back in Kansas, I will miss Vermont.

The thing about loving two (or more) different places is that there’s a trace of grief when in either at times. My body especially doesn’t understand why here is here, and there is there, so many hundreds of miles in between. The wild yearning to be in both places at once, to integrate what is separated by ecosystem and hours sitting in airplanes, opens into a sinkhole of sadness at times.

Yet I praise being a living being hard-wired to bond with place. I agree with David Abram’s assessment in The Spell of the Sensuous:

Our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth – our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of wolves and the honking of geese. To shut buy cialis super active ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rob our own senses of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.

I think about this quote often because it holds together the places I love in Abram’s call for opening our senses to what is beyond ideas of place: to the visceral and vivid light, scent, rustle and shape of the actual place. Since I started writing this, the gray-blue sky filling the space between and behind these towering trees has turned bright light blue, dimming with each moment. The trees themselves are sharper in their reaching and crossing lines and curves, black-green shadows against the sky.

I also think of something else from David Abram: how he told me once of the obvious linkage between places — the sky. “Go outside and look up. It’s the same sky I’m looking at this moment.” Especially the sky helps me feel some tentative continuation between places — the stars and sun, the clouds and clearings — and that’s enough — just enough — to hold the simultaneous yearnings to love where I am and where I’m not.

Readying Myself to Roll: Everyday Magic, Day 497

The cat packs herself for the trip

Come Monday morning, I head down the magic rabbit hole between my home in a house on the prairie in Kansas to my home in a dorm room in Vermont. I’ve been doing this for 17 years, twice a year or more readying myself to roll east, via a car ride to the airport, two plane rides with layover hopefully long enough to eat lunch while not running through an airport, and taxi ride to campus. As usual, when I pack, my animals gather ’round, telling me with their don’t-leave-me animal eyes that I shouldn’t leave them. They often sleep next to or on top of suitcases, piles of clothes or books heading east, letting out mournful cries when I reposition them.

In the week before I go and week after I get back, I feel as if I’m in both places at once, and I have trouble upon waking each morning distinguishing whether I’m dreaming Kansas in Vermont or dreaming Vermont in Kansas. It’s a bittersweet sensation, and crazily cialis generic vs. brand name enough, I tend to worry about missing one place while in the other place while I’m still in the one place I’ll be leaving soon. Yet I think this kind of ludicrous, pre-emptive longing is part and parcel of finding home in

Failing to fit into the suitcase, the dog, feeling quite dejected, lies down beside it.

more than one place.

At the same time, I carry each place in me no matter where I am. I am a Kansan who happens to live in Vermont for 10-12 days two or more times each year. I have a rich and beautiful life in both places, and thanks to phone calls, skype, email, facebook and more, I’m in touch with the people from both lives all in a day’s work.

So I sit here in Kansas with Vermont in my pocket, readying for doing the opposite when I emerge from that rabbi hole come Monday afternoon. Then I will remind myself, like I always do, that it’s the same sky holding together my real and dream lives.

First Morning Back: Everyday Magic, Day 386

I didn’t go to sleep until well into the first morning back, the combination of 11 hours of planes, taxis, cars and long walkways interacting badly with my exhaustion and all the caffeine I consumed. So it was well after 3 a.m. by the time my racing fatigue gave way to unconsciousness, and after waking at 7, 8, 9 and then 10, after 10 when I finally got out of bed.

I stepped outside while the bath filled and found the home air light, cool to the touch and just a little windy, all of which I missed in the heavy, humid air in New York and then Vermont (although Vermont did fold into low temperatures on occasion). The yard is overgrown, the dishes not done, and all kinds of new things found at yard sales and such are piled on the porch. I return to find the heat wave dissolved, but so many plants still browned and dry. The green brain-like balls of Osage Orange hang from the tree over the cars, reminding me that last year one of them broke a windshield. The cat sleeps stretched out on the bed, the dog on the floor.

The first morning back it’s impossible to reconcile the places so far away, so close in my mind. The tunnel between was long and arduous, and consisted of a plane ride to Laguardia where three screaming babies in the seat behind me, and two more in the seat behind them, interfaced with some of the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced (bonding me with my seatmate and we grabbed onto one another for dear life).

Now the rows of babies in the air are behind me, and I’m back to this new beginning in Kansas, six weeks or so behind the Vermont weather (where there were some red maple leaves on the ground already) and yet right on time for here. I’m hoping to rest and be enough to catch up with where I’ve landed.