All Hallows – Hawk Visitation 2020


Smash/slam! I jump. A gunshot? Crash – Thump – the two sounds occurred almost simultaneously. Some bird hit my window; the truth strikes like lightening.

Oh, no. It’s raining. I race out the door – yellow talons shudder – but the bird is dead when I reach it. My/our(?) Messenger, the hawk.

(To Indigenous peoples the hawk is experienced as a messenger from the spirit world).

My mind is racing, a comet streaking through the sky, out of control.

I play back the scene – the afternoon’s light rain – reading last year’s All Hallows ritual a few minutes before – republished on MAGO – always surprised at the depth of my authenticity – how real I am.

Watching for cardinals in the gray November day… “November came early this year,” I told Mark earlier when he dropped off the roofing. He nods… We know winter is almost upon us. Even our bones are singing blue. There is a five – foot hole on the southern wall.

Something about the reading “All Soul’s Day” on Helen’s site sparks a recent memory. I had seen the chandelier pieces in the attic. Now I go up to get them. A bit early, I think before I remember I live through “Indian Time” and follow an invisible thread that nudges me on.  

( there’s an “ah ha” here too when I finally get it that’s why these ritual period are so fluid – I live through Indian time – duh)

These rectangular pieces of crystal were leftovers from my childhood. I had stripped them from fancy chandeliers disposing of the former. Davey and I loved those rectangular crystals clanking them together to hear the music when no one was paying attention…. Every year I put them on my tree to honor the dead, and now the living family that abandoned me – children and grandchildren. Too many boys lost for one woman to bear. Thanks be to Marcus.

After cleaning the crystals I begin hanging them on the little Norfolk  Island Pine. They shimmer like rain. It’s never enough to have trees outdoors; I need them indoors too.  They are my teachers; my dearest friends… the wisdom keepers.

Watching for cardinals in the heavy autumn dusk… thinking about how the women in my family took the stage behind the stage of men – the strong women – my grandmother and her sisters who polished silver, knit our scarves and mittens, sewed our clothes, gardened, painted, sculpted, kept immaculate houses, and cooked family dinners together, especially on holidays…. My mother, their darling, joined them on these celebrations out of duty and with unconcealed resentment. These Victorian women who never cried.  They were relentlessly cheerful – just once I wished one of them could tell me a story without a happy ending, a story that would let me into their world… or attach my grief to theirs. I never knew them….

Am I carrying that grief?

 Davey and I ate stolen chocolates hidden under the living room couch…

These were remarkable women and I never noticed…Did he?

I hung the last crystal on my little tree. I am adorning my tree early I thought. Most years I don’t hang crystals until after the Feast of the Dead, the three – day festival that ends on Nov 2 with All Soul’s Day and the end of the year. The new year is as yet unborn. We have entered ‘the space in between’.  

I walk in those footsteps, not because I chose them but because they chose me. The Indigenous Wheel of the Year is also my own…

This is the time of year that I honor all trees, but especially those that are evergreen… But today when I hang the crystals I am honoring the dead – my dead.

My current ritual has been written and now I live the story….

The smashed windowpane, the sight of the dead hawk. I gather his warm body in my hands and bring him in the house placing him under the tree in a trance. I spread out his wings.

More thoughts flashing… the hawks that hovered over Davey’s grave for a week, the hawk that I found dead the day my mother died. Hawks are always bringing news, and I am no less frightened by the presence of this one than I have been by others…

I will leave him here tonight and then decide.

Some part of me believes this bird heard the call and came to keep me tethered to truth: that I know things I don’t want to know. Ever.

 For the last week a caul hangs over me – a smothering shroud, a dread I cannot shake. My body has been stolen  – the pressure in my head is wringing my neck – my body is sizzling with raw electricity – and the full moon is still ahead. This year it falls on All Hallows – I endure.

One more gunshot punctures this last thought. It’s after dark – illegal – but who will stop them now? Those hunters of deer and bear; those hunters of those like me? Oh how I fear the Violence ahead…

And what of the hawk who came to let me know?


I gaze at his beautiful body, his outspread wings, mole brown and cream feathers – the patterns. My god he is beautiful, and he lies there so peacefully. I thank him – not knowing if this message is just for me or attached to something more…


(10/24) I was pulled into the field of cranes…. I watched them ‘dance’, and finally when the group decided to visit another field they rose into the air like prehistoric angelic presences haunting the sky with their cries. IT WAS ENOUGH…..

Dream: #222 10/25…Hawk as Messenger/ an estranged friend

There is tremendous grieving going on. My estranged friend is in a bed and we all do what we can – she has just lost a beloved BIG dog and she is inconsolable. We move around witnessing, do what we can. There is a large bare tree hanging over her bed and then I/we see a hawk sitting in the branches – this is when I realize that everything is going to be all right. She has help. The hawk is with her – dream fades as I wake up…

 More context taken from unpublished material from All Hallows ritual written 10/28 2020:

“Some of us have stayed awake through this holocaust, but I am one who must force herself to climb into each day with a resolve that is slowly eroding, collapsing a floor that once held me secure. I am sinking into mold, fog bound, marshy oblivion… So I cry out for the comfort of trees who bend love over bare branches, listening for the Messenger who clasps his heart around my dreams.”

Red Oak Prayer

Red Oak

you were a

patient seedling 

who waited years for

a green door to open

 beyond a cobalt sky.

The fallen pine

offered you ‘the way.’ 

At last you shine!

Bittersweet orange

and scarlet,

oversized leaves

tenaciously holding on

when most others

 are withering away.

 Light winds,

 gifts of rain,

maple leaves 

and scented needles  

compost your future.

Deep roots meet with 

Pine People

Your friends I’m told,

fusing mycorrhizal threads

into complex patterns

that stretch across

the forest floor,

 All search for minerals:

nitrogen, phosphorous,

precious water too. 

Nourished, you thrive.

Not even insect

damaged leaves

can still your will to live.

I feel you

singing a love song

to the sun.

Eat all the light

you need during

this golden autumn

  • before winter

slows your blood

and you fall asleep.

Dreaming Our Future.

 I hug you

with hungry eyes

wondering who

planted your seed.

Was it cached by

Squirrel or Jay?

From acorn to tree –

From DNA to Form.

Horizontal Gene Transfer?

Grow straight

and tall.

Leaf out, unfurl

 pointed fingers. 

 Deep verdant green is

  summer shade.

Come fall

the Oak Fields of Yore

will strengthen each limb

as you sleep,

 nurturing and protecting

the Wise Wo/Man

you already are.

What is it about Red Oaks?

Every autumn I fall in love with ‘fire on the mountain’…This year the maple show was relatively brief, with scarlet leaves dropping early, although in mid October some larger maples still have bittersweet gold and sunset orange leaves. Drought is becoming more and more of a threat in our neck of the woods overall, and this year almost all the trees deciduous or conifer are suffering. Insect damage is pervasive and I have seen more diseased trees this year than ever before.

Which brings me to red oaks. I notice on my daily walks or while climbing nearby mountains that my eye is drawn to the graceful green oaks overhead, or to the brilliant crimson of smaller oaks that abound in the understory. Some oak leaves, of course, are already brown but many still vibrate with astonishing colors in mid October. Along with the moose 

 Maple, these smaller trees are striking in appearance, many with (apparent?) oversized leaves. A young friend of mine postulates that these large leaves help the seedlings photosynthesize more effectively, a perspective that I suspect has merit. 

When I first came to this land I noted the absence of oaks with dismay. Upwards of a hundred species of animals/birds need acorns to sustain them through the winter. To redress the apparent imbalance, on my woodland meanders, I started picking up acorns from the red oaks that I then planted in various places on this property. I did this year after year without any tangible results. And then about fifteen years ago I began to notice young oaks sprouting along my paths or around the house. By then I also had a healthy population of Blue jays as well as squirrels so I wondered who had done the planting. Blue jays select undamaged nuts to bury; I don’t know about squirrels. Amazingly according to the research that has been done only ten percent of the jays cached acorns are NOT viable seeds. Blue jays also spread buried seeds over a large area; as a result a number of species of oak trees have become dependent on these birds for acorn dispersal. So the next time you complain that there are too many jays at your feeder (as I certainly have) remember to thank them for planting new trees! 

The other fascinating fact I learned just recently is that oaks like to grow with white pines. There is a reciprocal relationship between the two trees on a mycelial level. When I discovered this piece of information I realized that the oaks around here didn’t begin appearing until the pines began to grow up through the field… coincidence?  And what do the blue jays know about this relational finding?

Last spring I selected one healthy red oak acorn to germinate in the house for fun. Sure enough it wasn’t long before a tiny seedling emerged. I let the seedling grow most of the summer in a pot to develop a good root system and recently planted it in a sunny spot. By then the tiny tree had lost all but one bright red and green leaf that pointed skyward like a sword. Like so many young oak trees insects had attacked the other leaves leaving gauzy translucent webs; some curled up and dropped.

Have you ever found yourself struggling for traction on a steep slope while on a fall walk in a hardwood stand? The cause of that slipperiness might have been freshly fallen northern oak leaves, which have waxy surfaces. Both acorns and the leaves are tied to the oak’s evolutionary strategy.

Red oaks evolved in concert with the now extinct Passenger Pigeon. It is estimated that 2 to 5 billion of these plump birds once inhabited the eastern forests. Their primary fall food was red oak acorns, and they would descend on forests in the midst of good mast years in such abundance that they would break off oak branches, creating ‘kindling’ on the forest floor. It’s important to note that the waxy oak leaves are fire prone once dry. This adaptation, combined with the life history of the Passenger Pigeon, helped create conditions for surface fires that oaks can often resist, but that may kill competing species.

Part 2

You can spot red oaks in spring, when beautiful pink leaves covered in silky down emerge from the trees’ buds. Keep an eye out for them as you explore the woods. We have two species of oaks that are common in this area. Red and white oaks have distinctly different leaves and acorns. Red oak’s leaves have pointed tips and are five to ten inches long (even on seedlings) and have rounded acorns. White oaks have rounded lobes and elongated acorns. In summer, both oaks have leaves that are a dark green, and they turn a rich red or brown in fall.

Northern red oak’s distinct bark makes the tree easy to identify even without leaves. Irregular reddish stripes lie in between rougher ridges. A few other oaks have bark with this kind of appearance in the upper branches, but the northern red oak is the only one with striping all the way down the trunk, except in trees of very large diameter when the bark becomes rougher at the base. Red oaks often hybridize with black and scarlet oaks.

If allowed to live long enough in forests, these trees grow straight and tall to a height of about 100 feet, though exceptional trees will reach 140 feet. Their trunks reach up to 40 inches in diameter. When they grow in the open, red oaks don’t get as tall but they can develop stouter trunks, up to six feet in diameter. Trees may live up to 400 years or more.

 Northern red oaks grow rapidly and are tolerant of a variety of soils and site conditions, though they prefer well-drained lower areas. Most species of oaks including red oaks don’t begin to produce acorns until they are thirty years old – the time when many of these trees are already being harvested for timber. Peak acorn bearing trees are between 50 to 80 years old, and certain trees produce more acorns than others, a phenomenon that can be baffling – highlighting how little we know. On a good mast year adult red oaks produce many acorns.

Red-oak acorns take two years to mature, are exceptionally high in fat, and don’t sprout until the following spring, even when buried. As a result, the acorns keep. Birds and animals rely primarily on red-oak acorns for their winter stash. White-oak acorns mature in a single year, are sweeter than the reds, and sprout soon after falling, losing their nutrients rapidly so they are eaten by wildlife immediately. During years when fall mast is plentiful many acorn – eating species including jays, wild turkeys, grouse, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, bears, and deer all seek out this high protein/high fat nut to help them survive the winter.

In spring look for the flowers that form on the trees. At the base of the tiny female flowers, the cells swell into a vase shaped ovary topped by a pistil ready to capture any wind blown pollen… after fertilization the ovary becomes the acorn, the petals the cap.

There are eight species of oak that occur in Maine – the confusing part is that some of these species hybridize with others.

Scientists have barely begun to unravel the many ecological repercussions of the oak forest’s wax-and-wane mast cycle. For that matter, they’re not entirely sure whythe nut crop varies as it does. Certainly weather and other environmental influences are a factor — a drought can sap trees of reproductive energy; a late spring frost can kill flowers. But weather doesn’t appear to be the main influence. Bumper-crop years aren’t always especially weather-blessed. Poor mast years occur even when conditions are ideal for acorn growth.

Many scientists now believe the mast cycle is an evolutionary adaptation; that over the eons oaks and other nut-bearing trees have developed an on-and-off mast cycle to ensure their reproductive survival. This theory makes sense to me. If oaks produced a consistently healthy crop of acorns every year, populations of nut-loving animals would rise to the point where all the acorns would be eaten no matter how numerous. None would remain to grow into mighty oaks and we would be overrun with squirrels and chipmunks even more than we are right now!

The theory around the mast cycle solves the problem. During moderate to poor years, wildlife suffers, seldom increasing and often decreasing in numbers. Then comes a good year, when the trees produce far more nuts than the animals can consume, and acorns are left to germinate and renew the forest.This fall it is especially easy to see the red oak seedlings. They seem to be popping up everywhere. The next time that you are in the woods look for the small oaks that still display  abundant colors, and hope that some will survive the rapacious timber harvest to become nut bearing oak tree adults…


W. S. Merwin

 In that tenth winter of your exile
the cold never letting go of you
and your hunger aching inside you 
day and night while you heard the voices 
out of the starving mouths around you 
old ones and infants and animals 
those curtains of bones swaying on stilts 
and you heard the faint cries of the birds 
searching in the frozen mud for something 
to swallow and you watched the migrants 
trapped in the cold the great geese growing 
weaker by the day until their wings 
could barely lift them above the ground 
so that a gang of boys could catch one 
in a net and drag him to market 
to be cooked and it was then that you 
saw him in his own exile and you 
paid for him and kept him until he 
could fly again and you let him go 
but then where could he go in the world 
of your time with its wars everywhere 
and the soldiers hungry the fires lit 
the knives out twelve hundred years ago

I have been wanting to let you know 
the goose is well he is here with me 
you would recognize the old migrant 
he has been with me for a long time 
and is in no hurry to leave here 
the wars are bigger now than ever 
greed has reached numbers that you would not 
believe and I will not tell you what 
is done to geese before they kill them 
now we are melting the very poles 
of the earth but I have never known 
where he would go after he leaves me.

Lise’s response to Merwin’s poem…


all those years of exile of hunger of privation the goose let go in a world in which there is nowhere for him to go then reaching into the future to find a home. 

we want to know all the suffering has not been in vain. we pray for continuance. we think maybe a miracle… 

we thought we deserved it when the whale came to us in the harbor having made her way upriver we jumped for joy after all those months of grim tallies. 

 when  she brought them to the SPCA such a leap of faith…  her toddlers, her babies, they came over from England with her, and now  she is dropping them off  in their cages. Who adopts siblings at 10 years old?  

I have been wanting to let you know

The goose is well he is here with me

You would recognize the old migrant

He has been with me for a long time

And is in no hurry to leave. 

Can’t the poem just end here? Like Hopkins’ and for all that there lives the dearest freshness deep down things…. Could it not end with bright wings?  with “Ah—bright wings”  Yes give us that “AHHH” isn’t that what poems are for? give us an “ah” an occasion to sigh, deeply.

But no the wars are bigger now than ever greed has reached numbers that you would not/believe  and it gets worse Now we are melting the very poles/Of the earth but….

But…yes please but!!!. But I have never known oh please the balm of miracle which always surpasses our knowing –yes– reward the years of fattening of plumping of storing up  the effort of working your way up the river ….  

But I have never known/Where he would go after he leaves me     

But I have never known/Where he would go after he leaves me

I have to read these lines twice …. such vertiginous tenses . Where  he would go I have never known.  Future tense abandoned replaced by conditional. Where there is no future there can be no future tense 

So this is where you’re going to leave me poet? Twelve hundred hears ago I could have set him free to fly into the future…… and now….. now where?

But I have wanted to let you know that I adopted those siblings. I did.  They are 13 now and have settled in quite well. We  quarantine together and for days at a time they are  the only living beings my hands can hold.

Lise Weil 

Postscript: Lise has been a friend and mentor for so many years that I lost count long ago. She is presently facilitating another writing group that I am a part of and not – often – enough she includes her own response to a poem she uses as a prompt for the rest of us. Once, I fell in love with Lise through her writing… nothing much has changed in all these years.

Ancient Mother

On the path

through the pines

I see clumps of

moss scattered,

an old tree trunk

is raked as if

with claws;

clumps of downed bark

 food for the earth.

My heart soars.

Wild hope pours

through me like honey.

Guns split

the air with

with fiery blasts –

machines scream.

Trickery abounds.

 Acting out their man

Hatred and Rage, 

 supported by ‘their’ women,

(betrayers of our kind) 

so many have lost access

to being human.

Power and Ego are all.

Never wrong, or accountable

Apology is an anathema –

Compassion a quality

without meaning.

Always “right”

no matter how ignorant,

He spews directives –

incapable of honest exchange.

Resorting to boring

platitudes – repetitive lies,

 He imagines the length

of his nose

doesn’t give him away.

A woman is only

an appendage

to be used.

A social secretary

a cook – or selfless mother

 she’s supposed to

remember his birthday

when he forgets hers.

These are the jobs of women.

But the worst lies

Under The Covers –

“Put out” he says

with disgusting distain.

And if she refuses

she pays….

Ah, the stupid tantrums

of men who throw

dogfood cans across

the airport floor.


There are exceptions.

Both men and boys

who are wise

in the ways of Nature.

Having lived in the Forest,

they learned the art of listening.

She taught them

how to be men.

The word integrity

has meaning –

Compassion is strength. 

“Protect the old people,

the innocent,”

they demonstrate

with their actions.

“Are you all right?”

“I’m worried about

your breathing…”

Women of all ages

 rank high on their scale.

Questions like this

bring me to tears.

Oh, I see Her now

hiding in the tree,

casting an ancient

and powerful spell

to protect them,

– these men

whose humility

stands before them.

 These men 

who know

how to love.

Love in the Round

Love in the Round

She’s ill –

stretched out.

The taught rope

alerts me.

My dog

is not sleeping.

Grief slides through thin air.

 Her sister

lies supine,

parallel, hugging

her sleek body –

As if one dog

could mediate

a sister’s pain.

These two,

wed to each other

through compassion

too deep for words.

I bend my face into theirs,

whispering love songs

we have shared from

the Beginning,

and will share

long after

We are gone…



When we meet 

our deep

brown eyes

 mirror a

mutual need

for light

to penetrate

 human darkness.

  Your eyes are

wary and fearful;

Mine hunger

for your touch.

I cry out softly

“Don’t be afraid…

I love you”.

We share

a haunted skin –

  hunted down

by Difference.

You are slaughtered

by men with guns.

I am knifed by wounding

 man words,

– boy threats,

 a ‘gift’ of a still warm

grouse – her neck twisted

and broken – dropped

at my door.

There are so many ways

 to kill an animal.

You have shiny black fur

and my skin is light

but our senses scream

as one

in torment –

our bodies feel

the earth moving

 under our feet.

We have no place

left to go –

no hope of peace.

What’s left?


to endure.

Working notes:

Some nights I walk down to the field, the one I call “field of dreams” to gaze up at the constellation of the Great Bear who circumnavigates the sky. In the Northern Hemisphere the Great Bear was probably the first image and manifestation of the Goddess. As a bear She denned in the fall, gave birth in dead winter, was reborn in the spring, feasted during the summer, and re –entered the cave, participating in an endless round of becoming. This year I feel the loss of Her Presence keenly. It has been a year of endurance; one in which hope has been absent. A year permeated by fear, drought, heat, stagnancy, unbearable waiting for house repairs to begin. It is almost November; un – dealt with house repairs loom as parched leaves drift to the ground and rains never come… I am losing perspective and I know it. 

Wild bears have been for the most part absent from my life. For the first time ever. The absence of day bears mirrors the apparent loss of the Great Mother in me. I am drowning in doubt and uncertainty.

Of course, hunting pressure has reduced the number of bears to almost zero and those that still haunt what’s left of these broken forests have little food or protection. Even though I offer sanctuary, treats, and friendship, bears have been too wary, visiting only under the cover of night. I almost never see them.

 The exception was Coal, a timid 300lb adult female that barely allowed me to get a few glimpses of her during the month of June…Although Coal knows me she is no longer interested in friendship. That she has survived long enough to reach adulthood and is of breeding age (she bred last year but lost her cubs to god knows what horror) guarantees that she has had too many threatening encounters with men to trust any human, including me – a woman who loves her. Because we are in the midst of the three month black bear slaughter I think about Coal every day hoping that somehow she has managed to escape the hunters raging gun, wild dogs that ‘hound’ her, the ugly steel traps illegal in every state but this one…I look at her picture wondering if there is some way to reach her, to protect her – to help her survive. But I suspect that I am as powerless to help her, as I am to help myself.

Exile and Everyday Miracles

“In that winter of your exile…”

passionflower vibrates her tendrils before spiraling…

To live in exile is to take oneself, or be taken out of ones own country and/or ones body voluntarily or involuntarily– I am involuntarily split way from my body and what I know and feel whenever I interact with the dominant culture. I begin to doubt my perceptions; my way of thinking and being in the world on the earth is so foreign to what most people experience. 

I am split way from myself, by myself, no doubt due to family history/cultural conditioning/ whatever – but who cares why at this point – and the collective as a whole. This split is becoming worse. I don’t feel as if any of my words or actions matter even though I continue speaking and writing. There aren’t enough of us, I think as I tumble into  Breakdown. I keep writing for publication and on my blog to keep myself visible to myself. Writing helps me survive when I am paralyzed with grief over the state of the earth. I do not weep. 

 During the day I can interrupt this relentless splitting like I did this morning by watching the beady-eyed chickadees flying to and from the feeder, each taking only one seed, while reflecting upon the fact that Chickadees model restraint with respect to taking only what they need. Being present to nature’s doings returns me to wholeness although it pains me to know that in order to survive Climate Change these iconic little birds will be forced to move towards Canada – a frightening thought – at the rate that the human machine continues to destroy northern forests these diminutive black capped balls of feathers will not find home in the north. Chickadees and conifers co-evolved; each needs the other. 

 If I still prayed I would be praying for rain. It is not just my dug well that is almost empty of life giving water… my inner well is also running dry. This parched Earth and I both need moisture to soften our edges. Lily b, my telepathic bird agrees, commenting with his coos.

 Every morning as long as the sun shines in the window, my passionflower plant vibrates her tendrils and then spirals around a string trellis that I strung up. I watch, breathing in and out, to still my impatience. Amazing sight to capture! I take pictures, even as this natural miracle catapults me into “reality” again – Nature – the real world – not the socially constructed monster that we have created (I am beyond exhaustion with respect to my own   collusion – perpetuating a system I cannot escape). Plants are almost our oldest teachers having been around for four billion years. “Slow down” is one of their mottos.

Yesterday I bridged the split by raking up dry leaves to put into my newly constructed compost heap. I felt enormous satisfaction knowing that I am generating new life in the process. This morning a few drops of drizzle sent me racing up the hill to the compost to open it for the Cloud People.  

 Walking through the drought driven forest with its shriveled, insect ridden leaves I entered an oak tree ‘field’, apparently by accident? At present all oak trees seem to be trying to capture my attention  – mulled wine, dried crimson, bittersweet orange, fox brown and sun yellow leaves stubbornly stick to wind blown nut bearing canopies, and even the little seedlings still hold onto to a leaf or two. The acorn I planted last spring and nurtured throughout the summer supports one tiny red leaf pointed skyward like a sword. Without rain most trees dropped their leaves early but the oaks hung on. I keep thinking there must be a message for me here. Something about strength and endurance.  

 With emphysema every breath I take is a gift that has developed new dimensions. Prior to this diagnosis, oxygenated tree laden air, especially after rain, was already a scent I could never get enough of – it carries a quality of sweetness that is indescribable.

 I spent four winters in Abiquiu, New Mexico, and there my hunger – my need for both trees and their scent eventually became a driving factor in my return to Maine…Today the perfume of pine, spruce, or balsam bridges the split every time I step out the door, but one uninvited news flash or gun blast, a trip to a store when people are mask-less splits me in half once again.

Written the first day it rained…

The Split

When the rains come

  boulders fall away.

I soar and dip,

spiral into free fall,

flow with the current.

 Sweet scented water 

sweeps over me,

transporting a bone weary body

 to a quieter shore

but not for long…

An autumn star

 rises at dawn.

Swaying trees sing of

‘the season of light.’

 Soul beckons kindly.

 Thunder strikes –

Machine guns and bombs

shatter cells in my body

annihilating Nature’s resonance.

Split against my will,

I slam back into stone.

Chickadee Celebration

It takes so little

to please them –

a few seeds

a bare branched apple

a woodland hollow

 rushing mountain waters

 an overflowing brook.

We celebrate the gift of rain –

Swelling thirsty roots 

are singing

Water is Life.

We are the lush green forest

 breathing deep the scent of light.

 Chickadees gather in

the fruit tree

shaking tufted feathers

 undeterred by sheets

of cascading silver – 

prepared for

winter white,

as I hope to be –

apprenticed to them. 

Postscript: To be saturated by fall rain is to be given the greatest of gifts because as the poem says, Water is Life. Two days of rain, some light, some heavier downpours culminate in more than three inches of water that has  fallen over a long enough period of time to permeate roots and evergreen fingers, fill wells for now, and to bring back the emerald of green mosses.

 This summer of drought has brought me to my knees again and again as I have witnessed myself as a thirst driven root, insect ridden leaf, a cracked trunk, a shriveled seedling, a piece of desiccated moss, a flower that wilted too soon.

Today I pour my gratitude into the sweet earth giving thanks for this reprieve. With warmer temperatures predicted across the country for the winter I am hoping that summer’s drought pattern won’t become a permanent haunting…Whatever happens I have tasted the joy that Nature demonstrates through every winter bird that visits my feeders so enthusiastically – rather than causing chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers and nuthatches to seek cover, the rain seems to create an excuse for celebration! And like them I too am wandering around in the rain, soaking in scent, sinking into plush carpets of green moss and brown needles, watching the brook waters tumble over glacial stone…It is wondrous to witness, to hear how all of Nature sings and to feel that I too am a part of what is.

Indigenous People’s Day

The EARTH is on FIRE

The Guardian…. I thank you. You speak for all of us – those who have reverence for the earth …. And thanks Lise for sending…Indigenous Peoples Day came and went – I was numb – unable to write a thing, so I am especially grateful to this publication.

This is my message to the western world – your civilisation is killing life on Earth

Nemonte Nenquimo

We Indigenous people are fighting to save the Amazon, but the whole planet is in trouble because you do not respect it

Mon 12 Oct 2020 05.00 EDT

Last modified on Tue 13 Oct 2020 09.14 EDT





Waorani leader Nemonte Nenquimo shows evidence of crude oil contamination in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. Photograph: Mitch Anderson / Amazon Frontlines

Dear presidents of the nine Amazonian countries and to all world leaders that share responsibility for the plundering of our rainforest,

My name is Nemonte Nenquimo. I am a Waorani woman, a mother, and a leader of my people. The Amazon rainforest is my home. I am writing you this letter because the fires are raging still. Because the corporations are spilling oil in our rivers. Because the miners are stealing gold (as they have been for 500 years), and leaving behind open pits and toxins. Because the land grabbers are cutting down primary forest so that the cattle can graze, plantations can be grown and the white man can eat. Because our elders are dying from coronavirus, while you are planning your next moves to cut up our lands to stimulate an economy that has never benefited us. Because, as Indigenous peoples, we are fighting to protect what we love – our way of life, our rivers, the animals, our forests, life on Earth – and it’s time that you listened to us.

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In each of our many hundreds of different languages across the Amazon, we have a word for you – the outsider, the stranger. In my language, WaoTededo, that word is “cowori”. And it doesn’t need to be a bad word. But you have made it so. For us, the word has come to mean (and in a terrible way, your society has come to represent): the white man that knows too little for the power that he wields, and the damage that he causes.

You are probably not used to an Indigenous woman calling you ignorant and, less so, on a platform such as this. But for Indigenous peoples it is clear: the less you know about something, the less value it has to you, and the easier it is to destroy. And by easy, I mean: guiltlessly, remorselessly, foolishly, even righteously. And this is exactly what you are doing to us as Indigenous peoples, to our rainforest territories, and ultimately to our planet’s climate.

It took us thousands of years to get to know the Amazon rainforest. To understand her ways, her secrets, to learn how to survive and thrive with her. And for my people, the Waorani, we have only known you for 70 years (we were “contacted” in the 1950s by American evangelical missionaries), but we are fast learners, and you are not as complex as the rainforest.

When you say that the oil companies have marvellous new technologies that can sip the oil from beneath our lands like hummingbirds sip nectar from a flower, we know that you are lying because we live downriver from the spills. When you say that the Amazon is not burning, we do not need satellite images to prove you wrong; we are choking on the smoke of the fruit orchards that our ancestors planted centuries ago. When you say that you are urgently looking for climate solutions, yet continue to build a world economy based on extraction and pollution, we know you are lying because we are the closest to the land, and the first to hear her cries.




An illegally lit fire in an Amazon rainforest reserve, in Para State, Brazil. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images


I never had the chance to go to university, and become a doctor, or a lawyer, a politician, or a scientist. My elders are my teachers. The forest is my teacher. And I have learned enough (and I speak shoulder to shoulder with my Indigenous brothers and sisters across the world) to know that you have lost your way, and that you are in trouble (though you don’t fully understand it yet) and that your trouble is a threat to every form of life on Earth.

You forced your civilisation upon us and now look where we are: global pandemic, climate crisis, species extinction and, driving it all, widespread spiritual poverty. In all these years of taking, taking, taking from our lands, you have not had the courage, or the curiosity, or the respect to get to know us. To understand how we see, and think, and feel, and what we know about life on this Earth.

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I won’t be able to teach you in this letter, either. But what I can say is that it has to do with thousands and thousands of years of love for this forest, for this place. Love in the deepest sense, as reverence. This forest has taught us how to walk lightly, and because we have listened, learned and defended her, she has given us everything: water, clean air, nourishment, shelter, medicines, happiness, meaning. And you are taking all this away, not just from us, but from everyone on the planet, and from future generations.

It is the early morning in the Amazon, just before first light: a time that is meant for us to share our dreams, our most potent thoughts. And so I say to all of you: the Earth does not expect you to save her, she expects you to respect her. And we, as Indigenous peoples, expect the same.

• Nemonte Nenquimo is cofounder of the Indigenous-led nonprofit organisation Ceibo Alliance, the first female president of the Waorani organisation of Pastaza province and one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world

The day after the election …

… the US withdraws from the Paris climate accord, on 4 November. Five years ago nearly 200 countries committed to a collective global response to tackle the climate crisis. But when Donald Trump took office he announced that the US would leave the Paris agreement. On the one issue that demands a worldwide response to help safeguard the Earth for future generations, the US has chosen to walk away.

The stakes could hardly be higher. The period since the Paris agreement was signed has seen the five hottest years on record, along with a cascade of disasters, from strengthening hurricanes to growing wildfires. If carbon emissions continue we can expect even worse.

With your help we can keep this issue at the center of our 2020 election coverage. The Guardian has promised to give the climate emergency the sustained attention and prominence it demands. And we practice what we preach: we have renounced fossil fuel advertising, becoming the first major global news organisation to do so. We have committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2030. And above all, we will continue our longstanding record of powerful reporting that recognizes the climate crisis as the defining issue of our time.High-quality journalism that is grounded in science will be critical for raising awareness of these dangers and driving change. You’ve read more than 7 articles in the last year. Because we believe every one of us deserves equal access to fact-based news and analysis, we’ve decided to keep Guardian journalism free for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This is made possible thanks to the support we receive from readers across America in all 50 states. If you can, support the Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

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