This Thing Called Courage

Friday, September 28, 2007

More Pics






THESE PICS HAVE BEEN KICKING AROUND FOR A BIT so I figured I would post them. There's a great one of my nephew, Will Malachy Hayes, as well one from a recent hike up to the White Mountains (specifically at the head of Crwford Notch), and a third, of the hills overlooking the Quabbin Reservoir. Remember, you can always enlarge the pics by clicking on them.

I had a reading/signing gig last night at this place I had never heard of, The Male Center (in Boston's South End.) A very nice bunch of fellows. I left home at a more or less reasonable hour and got into town swiftly via a leadfoot, but once one there the traffic was abominable, gridlockian even, as the Sox were playing (they lost a heartbreaker) and the parking was a nightmare. As a result I was half an hour late, which is really rude-- the only consolation is that they can't start these things without me :) On Thursday October 11 I'll be doing the Thursday Morning Lecture Series at the Cambridge Center for Adult Ed, specifically their Organization of Older Students-- though all are welcome-- always lots of fun and a great group. It starts at noon at 56 Brattle Street, the Blacksmith House. There's something else coming up too, in Jamaica Plain, soon, but I'm sory to say it escapes my memory. (Hopefully they'll send a reminder!)

A very large black hawk flew directly over my back yard this afternoon when I was getting out of my car. He wasn't a red-tailed or red-shouldered, and he (or she) was too large to be a sharp-shinned hawk. Not sure what he was but he was big, and the magesterial swoop of him as he glided fifteen feet over my head took my breath away. Seconds before that, I had been quietly watching things. Thoreau says one has to wait 15 minutes sitting still in the woods before wildlife returns to an 'as you were' setting, before one came blundering along. I didn't wait that long, but low and behold a chipmunk came out, scurried across the back edge of the driveway where it meets the house, literally flew over the basement steps, rounded the corner, then began climbing my back stairs in search of sunflower seed and cracked corn, which I toss out from time to time. In the meantime the birds were flying around, a downy woodpecker, a number of house sparrows, some mourning doves, and a white bellied nuthatch. Sudddenly everybody screwed-- and I wondedred why, as I hadn't made a move nor a sound. Seconds later I understood why, as the hawk passed over, quite low-- I wonder how they know they're coming?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Monarch Migration Time


I'VE BEEN SEEING A LOT OF MONARCHS THE PAST FEW DAYS. The other day, walking Fionn back along the Fellsway, we crossed over the Route 93 overpass and saw five or six of them fluttering along Route 93 South, twenty feet or so above the traffic-- as if they had Mapquested the best route to Mexico, to where they are migrating now (the longest butterfly migration in the world. Can you imagine those fluttering wings take them 3000 miles?) Today, walking around the Sugarbowl at Castle Island, there were dozens and dozens of them, feasting on the wild ocean goldenrod that grows everywhere around there. They need to replenish their energy again and again on their mighty trip down to Mexico, and having such 'way stations' along the way is crucial.

But as much of the country is converted from farmland and pastureland to strip malls, suburban housing tracts, and corporate parks, the Monarchs are losing their 'way stations.' A wonderful organization called 'Monarch Watch' (see link) is urging people to create their own way stations along the Monarch's route, and they have all the information you need to get started.

Basically the Monarchs need lots of nectar-bearing flowers on the way south (in our area, Coneflowers, Joe-Pye Weed, Goldenrod, Butterfly Bush, etc) and lots of Milkweed on the way back home next spring, onto which they can lay their eggs. (It's the only plant they do lay their eggs on-- when the eggs hatch out, the larvae eat the Milkweed, to which they are immune, and thus birds and other predators leave them alone-- as Milkweed is toxic to everything else.) We can also encourage ourselves, our neighbors, our municipalities, and our states to stop spraying pesticides and herbicides, and to set up their own Monarch Way Stations. Spread the word! I grow my own milkweed every year-- it's really easy-- and get such a sense of satisfaction when I see holes in it, knowing a Monarch larva has been there-- even along rip-roaring Main Street.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

From Pat Tillman's Brother Kevin

This is from Truthout, and was written by Pat Tillman's brother. As you may know, Pat Tillman was the man who put a career in the NFL on hold to fight in Afghanistan after 911, where he was killed by friendly fire and possibly fragged. Used as a poster boy for the promotion and prosecution of the war, Pat had reportedly become increasingly critical of the war in Afghanistan, and outspoken against the war in Iraq. Some claim that he was silenced. This is what his brother (who served with him) wrote last year, on the eve of the mid-term elections.


After Pat’s Birthday
By Kevin Tillman

Editor’s note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read document.

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secreprisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Garlic and Arts Festival; Allen Young's Book Launch





IF YOU LIKE GARLIC, the place to be today (Saturday) and tomorrow was and is the Ninth Annual Garlic and Arts Festival, a kind of garlicky woodstock, in the beautiful town of Orange, Massachusetts, on an upland farm straddling the Orange/New Salem border. My friends Eric and Bryan and I made the trek, starting this morning in the pouring rain. By the time we got there the skies were blue, the sun was bright, and the rich, dense country air was an elixir, sweet with the scent of hay.

There were over 100 vendors at the event, offering everything from cider doughnuts, sculpture, and face-painting (I waited in line for this latter activity three times, but there were too many little kids in front of me) to shiatsu massage, horse-drawn wagon rides, live music, animal demonstrations, artists-- and garlic. Although our stomachs were grumbling all the way out, we held off so as to sample the many edible wares available at the fair. Strolling through the large food court area, our mouths were watering as we made our selections, then moved on to the next booth to make sure we weren't missing out on something better. Finally we met our Waterloo: root vegetable quesedillas, which appeared to be a mash of spinach, goat cheese, rutabaga, beet, turnip, potato, and roasted garlic-- dee-lish! Washed down with home-made ginger ale (the real mccoy) and fresh strawberry shortcake for dessert, topped off with fresh cream from cows that were more or less several feet away. Then we began exploring the many treats to be found in the vendor booths. I picked up some garlic seed, which I can plant in a few weeks and harvest next summer, as well as old-fashioned pickles, made by fermenting (hence, the old fashioned way) without vinegar, in the same way yogurt and sourdough bread are made. Yummy. There was a Cherokee man there selling his own handmade Indian artifacts, and we had a great chat, and then we strolled over tot he stage and listened to the music for a while.

The crowd was wonderfully earthy-crunchy, as one would expect, very happy and friendly and glad to be there. (Which reminds me of one bumper-sticker I saw on one of the cars parked out in the fields-- this was an entertainment in and of itself-- which read 'I'd Rather Be Here,' which I loved.) The setting was ideal, someone's farm field on Chestnut Hill Road, with an old farmhouse and farm, and massive sugar maples, in the background. I imagine in a few weeks when the foliage changes, the scene will be beyond description in its beauty.

After we left, we mosied into New Salem, Massachusetts so I could show the boys 'The Outlook,' a ridge behind the fire station in New Salem which has an absolutely amazing view of the Quabbin Reservoir Watershed. Eric had rented a large format 4 X 4 camera for the weekend, and I had my digital, as well as my old Argus with the viewfinder (which takes 620 film which I don't believe they make anymore, but if you know what you're doing you can make it take 120 film-- I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to that, but fortunately Bryan does.) Some of the pics from the digital are above. As we were driving up the road to the New Salem Town Common, which must be the prettiest town common in the world, a flock of wild turkeys crossed the road in front of us-- 21 all told! It was the largest flock I've ever seen. They went down a garden path, jumping up every now and then on the adjacent wooden horse-fence-stile thing- it was a picture of a lifetime. We stopped the car, but by the time I got the camera ready for the shot, it was too late-- time and tide wait for no man, and to this list we may now add turkeys.

I was also out in this wonderful rural area of our state yesterday as well-- good friend and wonderful writer Allen Young had the book launch party for his newest work, 'Make Hay While the Sun Shines' last night, and I wanted to be sure not to miss it. Dear friend Dermot came with me, and we stopped at another dear friend's house on the way out. This would be Clay. He and his son, three year old Finnegan, showed us around their lovely home, then gave us an awesome supper of homemade bread and fresh tomato soup, the tomatoes having been picked five minutes before from Clay's back garden. Allen's reading was at the fabulous 'Bruce's Browser' bookstore in Athol, where I did a reading myself some months back. Bruce's is owned by local musician Diane Lincoln, and it was great to see her again. A nice crowd came out for Allen's gig. Allen explained that his book is a compendium of many columns/stories he wrote while he was a reporter for the Athol Daily News, from the mid 1970's to the mid 1980's, as well as updates on what's become of the people, places, and things he wrote about back then. The book is delightful and I stayed up way too late last night reading it once I got home. Check it out!

The pics above are from the fair, and one of the Quabbin Outlook. (Just a reminder-- you can click on any of the pics for a bigger version.) Oh, and the adorable little girl is kissing her pet chicken-- not trying to bite its neck off.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Spooky Halloween Thing

I CERTAINLY HAVE A WIDE AND VARIED CORRESPONDENCE. It's great to hear from people all over the world. Sometimes I will get something from a group asking me to come and speak about, or submit an article on, 'queer theory,' (whatever that is). Usually these kinds of invitations are enveloped in so much bewildering nomenclature that, if it doesn't demonstrate confusion on the part of the sender, certainly produces that on the recipient.

And then there was the message sent out from a bunch of guys on my old softball team about a floor hockey league they were starting-- someone responded (someone from Southie I might add): "that is a wicked hack league I played there once better wear shin guards," sans any kind of punctuation or further comment, and I found that sentence breathtaking-- so much so that it became the opening line of Lughead in my second book-- I basically wrote that sentence down and didn't stop writing until the story was done, some 40,000 words later. Of course Haworth in all its wisdom decided to insert about 10,000 semi-colons into this story (which was basically one long Joycean sentence) and we had Battle Royale over that-- the proofreaders failed to realize most people (especially those from Southie) don't speak in semi-colons.

Anyway I belong, or at least get messages from, this yahoo group called Spirit Fire, which is apparently a community that meets several times a year, with one huge annual hoo-ha, and they make a bonfire and drum and chant and then, for the rest of the year, process it. Right now the big concern is how much 'sacred silence' there should be around the sacred fire-- and the debate, believe me, has been raging. An interesting, intriguing message came in this morning from a member who is putting together a 'fire circle' to 'cleanse' a farm on upstate New York that has been the scene of several fatal fires, fatal fires which took people's lives but never injured any of the animals in the contiguous barns. Anyway here's the message, and I think if I were a writer of mysteries I would hot-foot it out there and attend this thing-- talk about inspiration! Here it is, in all its unedited glory-- as we learned a long time ago in the newspaper buisness, truth is really stranger than fiction. I might go anyway. So, if anyone is interested, please call Marla (number below) for more info or to tell her you'd love to come.


Hello to All!

I am really appreciating the conversation about the importance of
silence during the sacred circle. It is the one thing that I myself
discussed with friends after SpiritFire as something that really
should be nourtured.

I wanted to make the SpiritFire community aware of an event I am
putting together here in beautiful Warwick, NY. There is an incredible
historic horse farm in this town situated on 230 acres of land which
has generously allowed us to hold space on their property for a Sacred
Fire Circle.

Some of you may have heard of this place...it is called Borderland
Farm. It may sound familiar because just this past Mothers Day 2007,
the magnificant 1800's Victorian farm house which was a landmark in
this town burned to the ground taking the life of the farm's barn
manager. What many people do not know is that on the same site the
original 1700's Colonial farm house also burned to the ground many
years before. Oddly, the barns which are right next to the homesite
housing dozens of animals, where never touched by the fire on either
occassion. It is many people's thought in the community that some type
of harm was done by people on this land maybe to Native Americans
which is why this tragic history keeps reliving itself in an effort to
remove the human presence but never harming the animals in any way.

It is our intention to do a ritual on the spot of the old homesite to
clear/cleanse the area...remove the destructive aspect of fire from
the spot...and take it to a new place on the property where we will
use it for good and celebration and honor it's power to heal in a
place where it has done a tremendous amount to hurt in the past. It is
our feeling that a tribal ritual on these lands will honor the spirit
of those who may have perished, release them and thusly bring a
harmony and balance back that is obviously very much needed.

This event will be held Saturday Night, October 20th. We will begin
with the opening circle and cleansing ritual at the homesite promptly
at 7:00...and then move to the Sacred Circle site to drum and dance
until 12:00 midnight...when we will celebrate the new day's arrival
and hopefully a new energy brought to these grounds. Everyone is
welcomed to stay and continue on drumming and dancing until the
morning...and of course you are welcomed to camp out overnight as well!

It is our hope to use this place next year for a weekend festival and
to continue to use it for years to come for this higher purpose.

Please, Please, Please come join us...we will be opening this up to
the community in general so that they may participate and heal as
well. There will be many people there who have never experienced a
Sacred Circle and so it would be great if as many people could come as
possible who are "veterans" so that these new people feel the power of
our beautiful tribal spirit!!

Any suggestions would be GREAT as I am literally putting this together
starting today....I would love to hear from a Shaman or
Priest/Priestess who would have advice or words of wisdom on our
ground cleansing ritual.

Thanks so Much....MANY BLESSINGS!!
Marla
973-919-9026

Borderland Farm
340 Rt 94
Warwick, NY 10990
SATURDAY OCTOBER 20th.....7:00

Powerful Video; Rain; Mychal Judge


THIS VIDEO SHOWS IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War) spokesman and Marine Liam Madden speaking in Providence, RI at a recent anti-war demonstration. He is currently being investigated by the Marine Corps for making 'disloyal statements,' for calling the war in Iraq a 'war crime,' which of course it is.

Interesting how the Iraq debate has been morphed over the years. First we were going in there, according to the gung-ho administration (none of whom had served themselves) because Iraq posed an imminent threat to us with their weapons of mass destruction-- a lie. When these never appeared (and Bush joked about it, looking under a table and blurting, 'Not under here, are they?' while troops and civilians died) the war was explained as 'we have to get Saddam.' Another lie, as they got Saddam but still didn't leave. Then it became about 'bringing democracy to Iraq.' Another lie. We have no business bringing death and destruction to another sovreign nation, at a cost of 1 trillion and 4000 troops (and counting) and 1,000,000 citizens. And who among us, watching the constant inroads this administration has made against our own democracy, would ever believe they love it enough to export it?

It's always been about the oil, and corporate profit. Many of us knew this before the war; many of us have only come to that conclusion recently. The Pentagon announced this weekend plans to build another massive and permanent US Base on the Iran/Iraq border.

This week the administration will try to buy more time with the General Petreaus report on the 'success' of the surge. The conversation should NOT be about the success, or lack thereof, of the surge; the conversation should be about ending this war which was wrong from the beginning, was wrong two years ago, and is wrong today. THEY LIED. The analogy I prefer to use is that of a man raping a woman. The rape hasn't gone as well as expected, so now we're talking about how the rape can be improved and carried to a successful conclusion. Keep the pressure on Congress, and watch Liam's video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ruky7_N2Zyg

We finally had some rain Saturday night, for the first time in two months. Unfortunately I missed it all, as I was ensconced in a movie theatre, but I could hear (even with my deafness) the booms of thunder. Call me crazy, but the sense of relief was palpable when I came home, and sat on my back steps. The earth, the trees, the bushes, my woods out back, everything had been crying out for water after two months of heat and drought. There was a peevishness in the air, a cry for help-- and that was gone Saturday night. I'm no biologist or even an arborist, but I know what I feel-- and I felt, again, relief that was palpable. The Native Americans knew the same thing-- the earth speaks to us. You could almost hear the sigh. We had more rain early this morning. More palpable relief.

Yesterday my new church, St. Cecilia's, showed a movie after services about Fr. Mychal Judge. The movie is 'The Saint of 9/11' and was exceptionally moving. They may show it again next Sunday at 12:30, at St. Cecilia's Church, Belvedere Street, Boston. You can watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYffWcZnghA

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sunday Night on HBO






I DON'T HAVE HBO, but for those of you who do, watch 'Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq,' on Sunday night, September 9, at 10:30 pm. The documentary was supposed to be filmed at Walter Reed Hospital, but the powers that be cancelled the project-- it seems they'll do anything to hide the truth about this war-- especially one of the harder truths to swallow, that being what we have done to our young men and women, in the name of greed, corporate profit, and a hurbis so entrenched it's pathological.

The film interviews 13 former service members, and what the war has done to them. At the same time I was posting this, my Yahoo News headlines (there are always five, and they change once or twice daily) announced that 'Bush, Advisers, Favor Current War Strategy.'

Now look in the eyes of this young man, and see if you agree. How much longer can we keep looking away? Right now there is a young man or woman in Iraq that will be dead tomorrow; another few that will be rendered legless, or armless, or both, or blind, or insane. It's not at all about the war; it's not about benchmarks; this war was illegal, immoral, and criminal from the get-go. There was no reason for it. Now we all know that. The larger question remains-- what are we going to do about it?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Here's the Link Again

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9122685464564163495

Barred Owl Hooting; NEW! Anyone Can Comment Now




Hi All, Earlier I sent out to some of you a link to a petition site at which you can register your protest against the Bush Administration's 'Recovery Plan' for the Spotted Owl (pictured above)-- which more accurately needs to be called an 'Extinction Plan,' as it allows loggers to clear-cut some of the last remaining stands necessary for this creature's survival. But commercial logging lobbying groups contribute heavily to Bush et al; Bush et al in turn ignore the laws. Pretty nice, huh?

Of course this new Recovery Plan is in violation of the Endangered Species Act (which the Bush Administration ignores at will, like most other laws that subvert their wishes).

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK IN THE EMAIL I SENT to have this plan rescinded. It's really important that we keep up the pressure in the waning month's of this Administration From Hell's term. If you didn't get the email, but wish you had, let me know and I'll send it to you.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE to see/hear a great video of one of our local owls (it's not the Spotted, which is native to the Pacific Northwest), the Barred Owl, which I have heard on many the spring night. This is the one with the well-known WHO COOKS FOR YOU, WHO COOKS FOR YOU ALL? CALL. This gives a sense of the majesty, mystery, and haunting beauty of these amazing creatures. Millions of years in the making, millions of years in surviving-- only to be extermintaed by the greedy Bushies? Not if we can help it. Extinction is forever, but Bush is only 16 more months, TG...

BLOG NEWS: I've changed the settings so that anyone can leave comments now. Before you had to register and sign up for your own blog, which was a pain in the ass. I just figured out now how to change the settings...two years later. Oi. Also, just a reminder that any pic on the blog can be enlarged by clicking on it.

Lovely Words; Some Pictures





IRISH POET GREG DELANTY recently spoke at Boston Univerisity, and the show is available online. Now matter how busy the day, I always take a ten minute poetry break in the midst of things, out back in the woods behind my house (weather permitting) or upstairs in the attic. I think poetry should always be read aloud, and what better, than to hear the poetry aloud with the poet's own voice? Click hear for the show:

http://www.buworldofideas.org/shows/2007/09/20070902.asp

Here's a few pictures I've been meaning to post. Last Friday I was out on the harbor islands with my friend Joe, who had never seen them before, despite growing up in sight of them. Last night I went down to Nahant to visit Will Malachy and his parents (my brother Mike and his lovely wife Carol) and I haven't posted a pic of him for a while so, here we go. In no particular order, these are looking eastward from the rear of Ft. Warren on George's Island; a view from a casement window; and Will 'walking' a somewhat recalcitrant Fionn. It's hard to believe, but he starts pre-school a year from today. Will Malachy, that is, not Fionn--

The water was heavenly last night(this is generally as warm as the water gets) the weather sublime, and I stayed in until it was dark, staring across the darkening sky as the stars and planets rose over the water, and the lights came on across Boston Harbor ont he South Shore. I can never get intot eh ocean without thinking (Petey-like) of how the oceans, always swirling and ever-mingling, confab and conflute, mixing and swirling-- so I think, This is the first time I've been in the Indian Ocean, or whatever, and think about all the things this water now running over my body has touched before me-- and I wonder if some of it is coming back to touch me again, from all those dunks as a youngster down at the City Point Beach...

Best of luck to all the teachers and students starting out today on the sometimes rocky road to knowledge. I'm sending you all an astrally-projected bouquet of sharpened pencils.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Iran: Bombs Away? And Sustainability-- the Emotional Kind

I AM LITERALLY ALMOST SICK with the increasing reports of the 'inevitability' of an upcoming massive air strike against Iran. There was a piece in yesterday's London Times detailing the madness. Talk about the definition of insanity. Apparently, there isn't enough blood on their hands yet; apparently, we have not yet reached the lowest, Dantean Hell they wish to drag us down to. It is in our name, and with our tax dollars, that they are doing this-- we must find a way to stop them before the slaughter of hundreds of thousands more.

Sometimes it's overwhelming, when one considers the assault this administration has launched on working people, unions, the poor, the environment, the Endanagered Species Act, the people of New Orleans, the people of Iraq, our service people, our economy, our treasury, our Constitution. But we must continue to witness against this madness, wherever and whenever we find it, and to especially remind our senators and congresspeople that such an act as launching war against Iran is utterly unacceptable. Go here to sign the petition:
http://democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/Peaceact/petition.jsp

Perhaps it's the nature of the imaginative, creative soul, but I carry with me, and have carried with me since the war began, the realization that while I am writing, or hiking, or sleeping, or buying food, that bombs are exploding, people are being tortured, troops and civilians are being rendered psychotic, legless, armless, blind, or lifeless. We did not need imaginations in the Vietnam Era, as, nightly, it spilled into our living rooms; in the morning it was splattered across our newspapers. It was this that ended that war-- finally, the American people had had enough. This was before the days of the 'embedded' media, in a time when the administration would not dare censor the media or ban them from showing the coffins coming home. How times have changed! How easy to drink int eh narcotic of our mass media today-- the Globe, for example, has been all excited lately about the opening of Nordstrom in Natick, when thirty five years ago there would have been two dozen stories on the insane abyss Vietnam had become--

There are I suppose many ways to avoid dealing with the reality of what we are doing: to pretend it's not happening, to block it out, to move on to something else, to realize, or theorize, how powerless we are in the face of these monstrously large machinations and movements. Does it make any difference that I write about this endlessly in my blog? Does it make any differencxe that I stand out at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Route 60 one night a week, holding a sign that says 'Health Care, Not War' ? Does it make any difference that I write my congressman weekly, like the old cat ladies (every town has one) that would pen their outrages every week in the local newspapers? I can't answer that-- and, I suppose, that's really not my business; all we can do with the times we are given is to discern what we can, and must, do. And I realize that the fact that my father woke up every night of his post-war life screaming, as he relived those unspeakable experiences on New Guinea, plays a large part of this, as does the fact that my step-father lost a leg in Korea, and that, growing up, my neighborhood was a junkyard of people recently returned from Vietnam, cruel caricatures of what they once had been.

But surely one doesn't have to have these kinds of experiences to realize that, even in the time that it takes me to write this, more children have been blown apart; more mothers have been left bereft; more soldiers have died, and more have taken a few more steps down the road to psychosis. This is happening in our name. It's really time we stopped it, and stopped the rush to do it to another couhntry, and another set of people.

What sustains me, and prevents me from burning out on all this (which is so easy to do-- I was speaking with a woman the other day who was four years ago one of the leaders in my group's anti-war activities the other day, asking her where she'd been: "I gave at the office," she said, with a grim laugh. "I had to get away from it." So understandable; what keeps me going is not rage, or disgust, or frustration and anger, although there's some of that-- but rather an understanding of how beautiful the world is, and how tragic for others to have lost their chance to experience the little epiphanies that keep me going, and delight me: how the light coming into my kitchen at this time of year, drenched in cricket sound, slants so beautifully, and the mulberry leaves it passes through dance so exquisitely across my kitchen floor. Or the Tufted Titmouse who comes to my birdbath (a make-shift high-tech frying pan from Sweden someone gave me-- I already had a frying pan, my grandmother's, one of those old fashioned heavy black cast irton ones, and when I use it I cook not only food, but memories); many birds come to this little reservoir, especially since we havn't had a drop of rain since sometime in July; but no one does it with the zest and comic bravura of this little clown. Other birds land gingerly on the edge, peer around warily, then drink as if they're pecking seed, and then decamp; not this guy. He lands like a duck in the water, smack dap in the middle, and always seems surprised; then he splashes around as if, only now, there is this new thing called water, and it is cool, and refreshing, and life giving. I hide by my back door and wait for him like God, for he always comes at lunch time; he's whiter in the face than most tufted titmice, and recalls Ceasar Romero as The Joker, with that wild white streak in his bouffont that, clearly, means trouble. The deer and coyote that I see in Happy Land, two creatures who have done a deadly pas de deux since the beginning, and probably always will, as long as there are woods to sustain them, each beautiful in an entirely different way; the mad dance of the Woodcock; the flicker of candlelight upon beautiful words on a crisp printed page; the feel of new, hung-out sheets, against my bare feet; the Parisian aroma of art papers as I begin a new painting; the apple-like smell of my nephew's hair when he comes in from playing; the juicy explosion of tomato when I crunch down on one of the Sweet 100's growing out in my side garden, still warm from the sun and lugging a bit of that orb in its juicy, hot taste; the vastness of mountains and are they blue, or purple, and how that question can occupy you for the better part of a northern afternoon as you stare from a ledge like a lover; the surprise of seeing a rabbit darting through my backyard, or a fisher cat, or a wild turkey family, when I come up the driveway from the front of my house, where four-lane Route 28 goes roaring by. The wild welcome Fionn gives me when I return from anywhere; the unparalleled feel of the just-chilly-enough Atlantic sluicing down my body as I plunge into the water. The meeting on one's lips against someone else's that you fancy. The first fire in my fireplace in late September...

I realize I could sit here til Tibb's Eve (as my grandmother would say) ticking off these things; it's not that they merely sustain me: it is these things that inform my anti-war feelings because how sad, I think, how heartbreakingly sad, that so many others will not be able to take in the delight of comic titmice in birdbaths, or the bewitching smell of Fluffy Ruffles petunias breathing out their fragrance on a cricket-drenched night. They won't know that, after all, the world is really a magic place.

Butterflies Over Boston

This Friday afternoon from 4-6 at the gazebo at Jamaica Pond, the annual Butterflies Over Boston ceremony will take place. This is a great celebration fo the Monarch Butterfly's annual migration to Mexico (can you believe it? and to the same branch that his progent came from last spring?) as well as an opportunity to learn more about these fascinating creatures, the environment, and genetically modified food (which we are all eating, whether we know it or not.) There'll be face painting, story telling, drumming, masks, dances, etc-- go here for more info and, as the old Irish said, God Bless the Work.

tp://monarchbutterfly.rwinters.com/