Falling Water

Jewell Falls

Today I had an adventure, and instead of starting my morning walk from the door of my house, I drove across Brighton Avenue, over to a trailhead of the Fore River Sanctuary. Then I walked a short walk to Jewell Falls, which is Portland’s only natural waterfall. After finding its location, I now believe it actually might be doable for me as a walk from my house, via a small side path off Rowe Street.

Today was cloudy and cool, and everywhere the ground was damp. Someday when everything is dry, I will sit on the little bench next to the falls and just listen to the water falling. I walked a little farther down the path, and then came back. Someday, I might walk all the way along the path, until it leads me to my friend’s house on the other side of the sanctuary.

I am curious about my addiction to exploring this neighborhood where we now live. I seem to have an unrelenting need to create an inner map of my new surroundings, to fill my eyes and ears and even my feet with intimate knowledge of my patch of earth. I wonder if there is a common instinct that drives us to this exploration, or if it is just me who feels this way?

Trout Lilies

These lovely small flowers were near the trail on Capisic Brook. A couple days after I took this photo, I went on a Nature Walk at our Ferry Beach retreat and I asked the person who was leading us about this little yellow flower with the mottled green and brown leaves, and she suggested the identification. These are buds that haven’t fully opened yet. I am getting to know my new neighborhood.

Trout Lilies

Owl Life

Mama Owl

Today I took a walk to the ponds at Evergreen and started looking at the pines where the mother owl and her babies have been living.  Today I brought binoculars and our little camera.  I watched for a long time.  At first, I could see the mama owl from one spot on the opposite side of the pond, and I could see the vague outline of a baby at another spot across the pond. I went back and forth a few times. Then, while I was watching the mama, she moved around, and flew down to a spot lower than where she had been.  I was able to get this photo of her, but through the binoculars I could really see her eyes looking back at me.  Then, she flew back up to another spot behind the branches and I could no longer see her.

There were so many other magical signs of bird life today.  There were five baby geese. There was a male cardinal bringing seeds to a female cardinal.  There was some kind of yellow color warbler.  And then I saw a movement lower down the owl pine, and saw that there was the baby owl on a lower branch, hopping about, gradually making its way further up. Amazing once again that I was able to take its photo.  I think I am turning into a birder.

Baby Owl

One Man Can Do So Much Harm

Yesterday, the governor of Maine vetoed the compromise solar energy bill that the legislature worked so hard to pass.  I feel so angry.  This one man is destroying thousands of potential new solar installations, all the jobs that go with it, and ultimately, adding to thousands of tons of carbon emissions because of his attack on renewable energy. I read today that even the utility companies supported this compromise bill. It certainly wasn’t a great bill.  A great bill would have added incentives and support for increasing our shift to renewable energy.  But it did provide a modest way forward.

But one man can veto it all.  It makes my blood boil.

Tomorrow there is a rally at the state house, and I know that many people are writing to their legislators to attempt to gain nine more votes from Republicans who previously have voted against the bill.  My state rep and state senator were both in favor, and I wrote to thank them. And I am writing this post, because sometimes we just have to rail against the powers of destruction and hope that the fire in our voices will turn the wind.

Signing the contract for our own solar panels has made this political side of the struggle very personal to me.  I was just realizing today that it has been almost nine months since we began this journey, our search for greener housing. The length of a human pregnancy: and it has felt like being pregnant.  The sheer magnitude of doing it all required a focus and energy that limited the other work I could do for the transformation of our society toward earth community. But now we are here, and the solar panels are about to be installed, and the baby is almost born, and I feel like a mama bear about it. I know that solar panels are not the be-all and end-all of the work we must do.  But they have become a sign and symbol of it for me.

I have to remember the vows I took when I gathered with other earth lovers at the Work that Reconnects with Joanna Macy last summer.  They give me strength on days like today.

  • I vow to myself and to each of you:
  • To commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all beings.
  • To live on Earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products, and energy I consume.
  • To draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, the ancestors, the future beings, and my siblings of all species.
  • To support others in their work for the world and to ask for help when I feel the need.
  • To pursue a daily practice that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart, and supports me in observing these vows.

I have to remember that we will not complete the work, but neither can we abandon it.  This is the next part of this spiritual journey. Whatever the outcome, to be fierce like a mama bear about this earth we love.  To be connected to the real Mama Bear, the Earth herself.  We are part of a larger Life, larger than one destructive man, larger than the destructive forces that threaten everything we hold dear.  I have to remember to lift up my voice and my arms in life and hope with all the green living things who are waking up in this season of new life.

Lifting branches

 

Solar Energy

Solar Energy LeavesToday, as I walked in the woods, I was suddenly seeing all the leaves budding open as if they were little solar energy panels for the plants and trees–only much more beautiful and efficient than the solar energy panels we humans are able to make.  We are in those weeks when the plants are waking up and starting their solar production once more.  And our own celebration is to make a decision about solar energy, so that panels can be put on our roof as soon as possible.

Last week, we had a roofing company come to replace all the worn shingles, so the roof would be ready.  Then we read solar proposals and asked questions, and tried to decide between some great local companies who are installing solar panels in our area.  That was the toughest part of the decision.  We also took into consideration the total life cycle environmental impact of the panels themselves, and that helped us to choose SolarWorld panels which are made in the United States, and score high on all measures of environmental accountability and worker treatment.  Who knew there were so many factors to consider?

Meanwhile, my time has been very busy with church work, and I am sorry to have neglected this blogging.  Yesterday, I preached on a topic related to Faith Climate Action Week, and found this quote by Gus Speth, a U.S. advisor on climate change:

“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”

It is good to be serving a congregation that is interested in such a cultural and spiritual transformation!  They support the changes Margy and I are making, and many other families are also asking how they can lower their carbon footprint.  We give each other hope and strength.

Endings/Next Chapter

Tomorrow we are closing on the sale of our house in North Yarmouth!  Margy is there cleaning up tonight, and I took a last carload of stuff home tonight after work.  Lots of feelings: relief, weariness, glad to have us finally all in one place, sad to leave the trees, glad to have seen the daffodils bloom.

Meanwhile, I’ve been plotting the next chapter in Portland.  I’ve arranged for replacement of our roof shingles, which were nearing the end of their useful life.  That should happen next week.  And, I’ve been researching solar options with a couple of installation companies.  It has been more confusing that I thought it would be.  Lots of options, and the companies didn’t make exactly parallel proposals, so it has been hard to compare.

Meanwhile, state legislators this very day were debating the future of solar energy in Maine.  Our governor has been an opponent, claiming–I believe falsely–that ratepayers are subsidizing those who are using solar.  Right now we have net-metering, where consumers who have solar panels can send extra power generated by solar panels to the grid (for example on sunny summer days), and get a credit for watts that they can use later when they need power in winter.  This benefits the grid because summer is the time of highest demand.  It is what we hope to do.  But the current plan is scheduled for some sort of change after this year, because we’ve reached 1% of energy generated.

It is so crazy, because we all need to keep expanding renewal energy as much as possible, if we are going to have a planet for our future generations.  I wrote emails to my new state representative and state senator, and they are supportive–but there needs to be more support to override a veto by the governor.  He is doing so much damage.  No one in the opposition talks about the subsidies that oil and gas industries still get.  I wonder who is planning for a future  going up to 50% solar?  And then, how do we imagine a fully renewable energy grid?   Meanwhile, despite the political uncertainty, despite the opposition, Margy and I are going forward with our own plans for solar, casting our vote for the future.Bridge to the Sun

Walking

Intertwined rootsI am feeling an paradox today.  I began this search for greener housing out of a desire to live more in harmony with all beings of earth.  It grew out of a deepening experience of our interconnection in an earth community.  Yet, the disruption and labor of moving from one place to another has chipped away at that felt sense of connection and I have been out of balance and spiritually exhausted.

What helps me to start finding my way back into balance are the walks I take most mornings near our new home.  I go out our back door, and then wander in our neighborhood, some days over to the Hall Trail near Capisic Brook, other days over to the trails at Evergreen Cemetery.  I’ve found a huge old grandmother tree a few blocks away, the oldest one I’ve seen so far.  Given the season and lack of leaves, I don’t even know what species it is, though I am wondering about Maple, since there are maple seeds on the ground nearby.

Old Grandmother Tree

Along my walks, the cardinals have been singing their most beautiful dawn songs, naming their territories and wooing their loves.  I am a tree person and a cardinal person and so I stop to put my hands on this tree, and I stop to listen to the cardinal songs, and try to catch a glimpse of them, usually bright and beautiful near the top branches.  There are cardinals in our own yard too.  So day by day, I hope to restore my strength, to reweave the threads that are torn and frayed from the move.

Cardinal at our new home