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Jun

Our mantel at The Kennedy-Warren in DC. Evening Ice in Antarctica by Maria Coryell-Martin, October 2006.

Our mantel at The Kennedy-Warren in DC. Evening Ice in Antarctica by Maria Coryell-Martin, October 2006.

The legendary giant Paul Bunyan once overwintered in a lumber camp in northern Minnesota. It was so cold the lumberjacks’ cuss words froze midair. Tough living, rough language. In springtime when sunshine warmed the air, the words all thawed and assaulted their ears!

Likewise, reentry to our home in Seattle after two plus years in Washington, DC, suddenly highlights every item stored, shipped, lost, found. “Do I need this? Do I use this? Do I love this? These questions of organizers in the business Empty Your Nest founded by our adopted sisterperson now residing in Berlin, Germany, echo relentlessly in my ears. And, is there a friend who would enjoy this item? Is it recyclable or saleable and at what cost? If I toss it, what life awaits in the landfill or at sea?

Feeling at sea myself, queasy with responsibility, awareness pressing on my conscience, I reflect that paralysis is not helpful. As Seelye has continued to work on the cryosphere for NASA, I remind myself that upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the space shuttle routinely loses protective heat tiles. Prepare for fatality, expect friction, ride the ride.

Coming home, I notice that trees are taller and elders, shorter. Our cat sleeps more and bosses us more authoritatively. Government has poured more cement, especially around highways. Life and place are both familiar and new. It seems imperative to live into our aging differently than our parents and boldly to extend “the examined life” into our footprint on the land and ecosystem.

In the financial meltdown, amidst species loss, swine flu threat, so many changes seem logical, if unanticipated consequences of past policies. I stick to the simple, the concrete. I seek first principles. There is no going back. This Earth is our home, and faith, a refuge.

When she wrapped me toga-style in a towel from my bath, my mother taught me, “Friends, Romans, and countrymen, let me lend you my ears…” Jesus said, “Let those with ears, hear.” What are we hearing now? Can we begin the deep conversations needed to respond, creatively, honestly at the fundament, the very root? And what of the branches, the evolution, our future?

Fatimata's house, Karal, Mali. Walnut ink on tinted paper by Maria Coryell-Martin, February 2005.

Fatimata's house, Karal, Mali. Walnut ink on tinted paper by Maria Coryell-Martin, February 2005.

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Chinese figurines, Tang style at the Weizmann Home, Weizmann Institute, Rehovoth, Israel. February 2008.

Roman ruin at Masada, Israel. February 2008.

Roman ruin at Masada, Israel. Tristram's Grackles. February 2008.

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