by Cynthia

It’s French for “again.” We yell it when we want the band to keep playing, when we want the night not to end, when we want more of something good. I’m about to board a plane to return home after a short vacation with a dear friend, and I definitely want an encore on the last four days!

Perhaps this blog will get an encore. My blogging endeavor got buried in 2015 under the leaf-cover of my life: an aged parent, graduate school, grandchildren, and a diagnosis of granulosa cell tumor for our daughter Bethany.

It’s almost autumn and the black walnuts are dropping their fruit, the big greenorbs crashing onto the metal roof of our house before rolling into the gutters where they will be retrieved and cached by the squirrels. The leaves of the Osage orange trees are beginning to curl, the weeds in the pastures grow golden and stiff. The seasonal revolutions of the Tennessee countryside provide a meaningful, if occasionally inadequate, compensation for the humidity of August and the gray dampness of winter.

A cancer diagnosis is like a nightmarish storm that descends out of nowhere, terrifies you and creates havoc, then passes on. It is difficult to stop yourself from continually searching the sky afterwards for storm clouds.  We are all learning about living in the present. You can read Bethany’s moving account of her experience at https://invisibility.home.blog/

When life seems to tilt askew as it does when someone you love is suffering, the rhythms of the natural world can feel like a comforting reassurance. Things will be okay. Life goes on, the earth keeps turning and God will nudge the sun up over the horizon tomorrow.

2019 is winding down with my MFA in hand, my parent still with us, and Bethany recovering from chemotherapy. The environment is not faring as well. The world is hotter, dirtier, and Trump has another year to gut environmental protections for our air, water, and wild spaces. One must look for good news and peek under the covers of the headlines. One must tune one’s inner radio to the Joy Channel.

Up your hopefulness factor by checking out the

Good News Network

at goodnewsnetwork.org

You’ll find a story about a scientist in Mexico, Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, who is developing a biodegradable plastic from the juice of the nopal catcus. Her new plastic degrades in soil in one month, and when submerged in water, degrades in a matter of days. Best of all, if it makes its way to the ocean, and is consumed by a sea creature or bird, it will not hurt them, unlike our current plastics which kill close to 100,000 sea animals and over a million seabirds each year.

Maybe our planet will get an encore if enough of us decide to change the way we inhabit it.

Richard Powers wrote the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, Overstory. Powers’s novel explores the ways that trees heal themselves, how they share information, how they regenerate, and how they are essential to human survival. The trees know things we are still struggling to learn. Bradford Murrow says,

“Richard Powers’s novel will complicate the way you think about the environment, activism, our gossamer connection with each other and nature…”.

I can’t think of anything more needed in our country right now than for someone to “complicate” the way we think about the environment. We need to be jolted into action. We need to be awakened to the sacredness of the natural world and our dependence on its health for our own.


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