"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Water

I woke this morning to heavy damp fog but the little rain we had during the night was barely enough to knock the dust down. So we wait for rain. And wait and wait. We can water the garden with soaker hoses and give each struggling plant a drink from the can but there is no substitute for rain with the rich nutrients it absorbs from the atmosphere on its fall to earth.

I'm sorry to have been so absent here lately. There are the aforementioned garden duties and the novel and the query letter which, trust me, is harder to write than you'd think. After all, it's just a business letter . . . right? You can only stomach so much conflicting advice and I know there is such a thing as over-shopping the query. You must retain your own voice through it all. But, back to water . . .

There was a recent program on NPR about water wars in California’s Central Valley, the dispute between farmers, environmentalists, and fishermen. The farmers are being cut off with reduced rations or none at all for irrigation in order to keep more water in the river for salmon. Environmentalists are fighting for the salmon and for the life of the delta. The government made mistakes in the past—building aqueducts, irrigation systems and dams and encouraging farmers to expand, growing everything from cotton to almonds. This was a shortsighted vision of limitless water and farming took hold under this false pretense of plenty. Now, with a long draught to contend with and fishermen fighting back, farmers who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on irrigation systems find their pipes dry and are understandably upset. They were duped into believing it possible to farm in the desert and came to think of the river as rightfully theirs. But maybe there are better places to grow cotton and maybe California doesn’t have to produce 90 percent of the world’s almonds.

This whole thing makes me nervous because I know that water will be the oil of the twenty-first century and we have only a precarious hold on our Great Lakes treasure.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Not a Consumer, a Citizen

ASIDES . . .

The Six Million Dollar Man is now doing commercials for rechargeable hearing aids.

Two robin eggs lie broken on the rattan mat in front of my front door.
No, make it three. My robin keeps startling herself at inopportune times, darting out of her nest and dropping eggs. Is it my fault? Did I walk too close to the window in my morning ramble to the coffee pot?

Obama can even do standup. Did you see the recent clip from a charitable foundation dinner? "The Republican Party does not qualify for a bailout," he quipped. "And Rush Limbaugh does not qualify as a troubled asset." Funny stuff. Actually, I think that is a pretty good definition of a troubled asset. His second hundred days will be so successful, he says he'll finish them in seventy-two, "and rest on the seventy-third." But, no, President Obama, I don't think you'll ever lose your cool.

Not once did he mention shopping and spending. I appreciated that. I’m really sick of being told I should be out buying goods I neither need nor want.

I’m not a consumer; I’m a citizen.

Do you think there is a connection between capitalism and overpopulation? And what about the effect the world’s overpopulation is having on the environment? It's been suggested that patriotic Americans should stop at two. Not by me, mind you, but I find it an interesting idea. Implausible, but interesting. After all, this is America where we like to oversize everything.

There is a credit card Bill of Rights awaiting action in the Senate. It has passed the House but must now pass the Senate. President Obama has asked for a bill that stops credit card companies from taking advantage of consumers by the end of the month. We’ll see. If you believe there should be an end to usury and other unfair practices by credit card companies, contact your senator and let him/her know what you think. Or better yet, pay your credit cards off as quickly as possible and throw them away, unless you’re able to pay in full each month and are only using a credit card to acquire frequent flyer miles, etc. But do you ever wonder about the trail you leave by using credit cards? The “consumer” footprint by which you can be tracked and judged without your knowing? For the majority of Americans, however, credit card debt is imprisonment without the jingle jingle of the turnkey.

The full moon woke me in the middle of the night. I was wide awake, staring at the ceiling and wondering what woke me, waiting for whatever did to make another sound, but the house was as quiet as the garden in winter. I wandered out to the living room and the moon was in the window, big and yellow and shining across the wooden floor, and I felt I should go outside and soak up the wisdom of those who planted under the moon. I felt like a moon woman, a women who runs with the wolves, voluptuous and fertile, unable to make a mistake. The lettuce seed would be planted exactly 1/8 of an inch deep. The broccoli would be perfectly spaced and each seed would germinate. My rows would be straight without regard to the hills and valleys that make up the natural contour of the garden. But it was only forty degrees out and I’m not that crazy.

On the same night, my father was restless and up and about. His hearing aid was whistling at him and in trying to tap it into mute mode, he dropped it on the tile floor in the bathroom and it broke. Now he has but one ear until he can buy another.

Onwards and upwards . . .