My Heart Flow with the Waters

I live on a lovely little bay off the Potomac River, downstream from Washington, DC. It’s alive with turtles and catfish and migrating water birds. Bald eagles nest in the woods nearby, along with osprey, woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks and many other birds.

it blocks the light, killing plants below, rotting makes a stinking black mess

But my bay, and the larger Chesapeake, is choked with foul rotting algae much of the year, the result of excess ‘nutrients’ from farms, sewage, run-off and lawn fertilizers. The sewage plant has recently had to absorb the waste outflow from a gigantic new development over 12 miles away, with more than 5,000 residents and 13 million  visitors annually.

While National Harbor has brought jobs and tourist dollars to Prince Georges County, which has never benefited as much as surrounding counties from DC’s economic growth, this overwhelms the sewage treatment facilities resulting in more filth in my bay.

Few people consider how their toilet flushing, lawn chemicals, street run-off or local farm waste are affecting our natural environment.

And yet our river is quite healthy for an urban river, as the birds and  the fish who still live here will testify. In many places the situation is much, much worse.

The voracious habits of the developed world, now exported to China and India’s millions of aspiring workers, are only accelerating the pace. In my lifetime we’ve destroyed most of the ancient forests on the planet, and killed half of the wild creatures that roamed the earth.

Consider this, from Joanna Macy & Jennifer Berezan:

Please be thoughtful in your choices that impact our world. Consider what you can do and give to help reverse the damage our people do to the world.

Alice Ferguson Foundation
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Indigenous Environmental Network

Snow Day

Fat flakes twirl in the unconstant wind, a cold breath that cannot make up it’s mind. Better this than a firm and determined wind today, for the mercury is falling, and any stiff breeze would surely find its way through my zipper.
  The dog, however, pays no mind to the chill, and leaps with joy, her normally white fur looking positively creamy gold against the snow. Her nose is powdered, her eyes are glinting, her tail is up. That is one happy beast.
  I’m trying to be half as chipper. I’m out her to please her, and rack up a few more steps on my pedometer, which has proven what I’ve long suspected: I am a sloth of epic proportions. Ten thousands steps a day? Lately getting over 3k is almost a miracle. Whatever; I have agreed to add at least 300 steps a day. So here we are, walking in a winter wonder land.
  The squirrels and deer know better, they are hunkered down somewhere. even the birds have gone to bed early. I’m fantasizing about a steaming bowl of porridge. But I am also feasting my eyes on a landscape transformed.
  This is the same place that hums with insects and frog music in the humid summertime, woven thickly with vines climbing high in the trees. Trees that now are charcoal grey drawings of themselves, waving like rushes in the wind. Which is picking up.
  I know I can enjoy it because my warm and cozy home is right there, no more than 300 steps from here. So I do enjoy it, the wind, wind that takes hundred year old and hundred foot tall hardwoods and makes them wave in unison, wind that sweeps over the frigid river encouraging it to ice, wind that would be deadly if I were out here 300 years ago in this flimsy coat.
  I’m an artist who lives for color, and today I’m thrilled by the grey of it all, quieting the hues down to barely readable: the green of holly leaves not really visible in their dark forms, a breath of gold where grasses still poke above the snow, and curled brown oak leaves that look like dried blood, the most brilliant thing around that isn’t white.
  Time for tea, and a book, curled up under the comforter. with a warm dog for extra heat. I give thanks for my indoor life. But I never forget what its really like. Out there.