This Thing Called Courage

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Of Mulberries and Marriage Lws


IT'S BEEN A LITTLE WHILE since I've posted due to a trip to P-Town over the weekend for the P-Town Film Festival, which was a great time, and thank you Dermot for your kind and generous hospitality.

The weekend really began Thursday afternoon when I took the T into town to be present at the State House when history was made. It was a great moment, and a tribute to the ability of people to change their minds, and vote from their hearts. Now New York is getting into the act. Fifty years from now people will probably wonder what the big deal was, and think, how absurd, how horrible, that g-l people were not allowed to marry-- just as we look back now and shake our heads at laws forbidding interracial marriage-- which were only whiped off the books a few decades ago. It takes a shift of consciousness, and the ability to change one's mind-- if one takes away bigotry, there is really no issue here, plain and simple. I am proud that so many Massachusetts State Legislators were able to change their minds. I am proud to live in the Commonwealth. And hey! May 17, the anniversary of the initial Massachusetts Supreme Court decision, is my birthday!

The Mulberry tree just outside my back door is in full fruit right now-- it's the biggest Mulberry I've ever seen and I wonder if the old farming Yankee family who built this house (in 1855) also planted the tree, as there was a time when it was thought that silk production could happen in New England, so many farmers planted Mulberry Trees. At any rate it's an old beauty (despite the hack job that the new neighbors did on it over the winter, on the limbs extending over and into their air space). Every morning I sneak out there and have my breakfast under its song-drenched delightfulness, and see the cardinals, bluejays, robins, mockingbirds, catbirds, et al, come and do the same. I can't say enough what a numinous way this is to start my day. If I'm extra quiet, the chipmunks who live at the bottom of the stairs come out too, though they prefer the seeds that I provide them to the mulberry fruits.

I had VERY good news yesterday morning, when John, who keeps the grounds here for my landlord, told me that he saw a mother turkey and five or six poults running behind her, in the backyard yesterday morning. YEA!!! We had a turkey family living out there two years ago, a mom with 11 poults, and they stayed for an entire cycle, finally leaving us one by one in the spring, when they scatter and disperse to find mates. They brought so much to my life, and though I didn't want them to get too tame, I did so enjoy feeding them, and eventually they came running (more or less) when they heard my voice. Three big males were the last to go, and it was so funny to see them practicing their male strutting and gobbling to each other before they left. Finally there was only one left-- then one day he, too, was gone. I've missed them so much and it's wonderful to have them back-- although I shouldn't really say that until I see them myself. Which I haven't yet.

I'm not one for cheesey 'reality' shows, expecially the 'talent contests' with pissy judges-- but this little video, from a 'Britain's Got Talent' show, moved me to tears. You can also do a search on You Tube and find more of this talented man singing. Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k08yxu57NA

P-Town was lots of fun and a nice break, and it was wonderful to meet up with my friend Tom from LA as he showed off his wonderful film Where We Began. It was also nice to meet his cast and crew, and to hear him give the sermon at the UU Church on Sunday morning, which was wonderful and quite moving-- 'Homecoming' it was called, and in a future edition I will post it here.

Tomorrow night (Thursday night) I will be speaking/reading at the central Square Branch of the Cambridge Public Library for the initial meeting of the Cambridge Men's Group. 45 Pearl Street is the address and the event is open to the public. It begins at 6:30 pm.

There was a piece in today's Boston Globe about an investigation intot eh the death of three Piping Plover chicks on a beach in Massachusetts. What's the big deal, you may ask? Well, plenty, as they are endangered, and 15% of the world's Piping Plover population is right here on the beaches of Massachusetts. they're trying to find out if humans killed them, which would be the crullests cut of all, as we are responsible in other ways for their decline. Pictured above is a mother Piping Plover with her chicks. Results of the autopsy will be in soon.

Finally, did you know your tax dollars were being used to poison thousands of wild Prairie Dogs? Now our wonderful national government wants to poison thousands more. The following is from the excellent group Defenders of Wildlife, whom I try to supporet as generously as I can on those rare occasions when I am flush. Here's the story, and please take action:

Prairie Dog
Black-tailed prairie dogs (prairie dogs) live in colonies that once covered 10-20 percent of the Great Plains. They once numbered in the hundreds of millions, and provided food, shelter, and habitat to dozens of other species of wildlife. Over the last 150 years prairie dogs have been reduced by more than 95 percent, and they continue to be poisoned, shot, bulldozed, and killed by exotic disease. Defenders is working to protect and restore large prairie dog colonies – and the many species that depend on them – in key places across the Plains.

Reintroducing prairie dogs on tribal lands
For the last few years, Defenders has been relocating black-tailed prairie dogs on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. There were once large colonies or prairie dogs throughout the grasslands on the Reservation, but they were severely reduced by an outbreak of sylvatic plague (the rodent version of bubonic plague) in the early 1990s. In an effort the jump-start their recovery in hopes of eventually providing habitat for swift foxes and black-footed ferrets, we have transplanted several hundred prairie dogs to recently abandoned towns. So far the prairie dogs seem very content with their new homes and are surviving and reproducing.

Prairie Dog Fact Sheet
Help stop a plan to poison hundreds of thousands of prairie dogs on public land in South Dakota and Nebraska
Conata Basin is a 73,000 acre area within the 580,000 acre Buffalo Gap National Grassland in southwestern South Dakota. Between 20,000 and 30,000 acres of this area are occupied by prairie dog colonies, making this the largest prairie dog complex and therefore the best black-footed ferret habitat on public land in the entire Great Plains. Over 200 ferrets – one third of the world’s ferret population – call this area home.

But now Conata Basin is under attack. The U.S. Forest Service is planning to destroy possibly up to 2/3 of the prairie dogs in Conata Basin beginning in fall 2007. This would significantly reduce the number of ferrets that could survive here and would also impact the entire ferret recovery effort because wild-born ferrets are trapped from Conata Basin and used to populate other sites.

Defenders of Wildlife is working to protect Conata Basin from this planned destruction. We need your help. Sign up at our Wildlife Action Center and you will receive email alerts when your help is needed on this issue and many others.

Help wildlife-friendly ranchers in Kansas save prairie dogs and reintroduce black-footed ferrets
County commissioners plan to spread poison across 10,000 acres of private property in Logan County, Kansas against the will of two landowners, as part of a prairie dog eradication program authorized by a century-old state law. The wildlife-friendly ranchers who own this land refuse to eradicate all their prairie dogs because of the importance of prairie dogs to a healthy prairie ecosystem. The ranchers want to reintroduce black-footed ferrets to their property, and Defenders of Wildlife is helping them fight the efforts of the county to poison their land.

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