Friday, November 30, 2007

Both sides, now*

Actually, the world around me right now is brilliant white. A major snowstorm blew into town on Wednesday and dropped a whole heap of snow.

I was thrilled of course with the snow, never mind the cold northwesterlies, never mind that my husband didn't make it much past the driveway because of the snow, never mind that I had to go rummage in the basement to dig out my son's old discarded winter boots in order to get to the 2 birdfeeders in my yard without getting clots of snow sticking to my socks.

Never mind all that, I was thrilled for the snow as, unlike last winter, the flowers in my garden have a chance to survive the cold hand of winter. Last winter we didn't get any snow until January or February yet the temperature was minus way down there and windchills were fierce. I lost the red beauty of the cardinal plant, the goat's beard (and he's supposed to be tough!), the black eyed susans were stunted, and even a long-enduring bleeding heart just stopped beating.

So, this winter has provided some grace as the flowers are already blanketed and insulated. Toasty warm roots. Batted down. Resting in peace until the first hint of green comes knocking.

If you look closely at the photo of the harbour, you can see the lights of the lighthouse shining out like the eyes of a bug peering back at you from a dusty basement corner. This was yesterday's photo; this morning it is -22 with a windchill of -32 so all clouds and chimney smoke lie in the air like flat pancakes. A sure-fire way to tell if it is really cold; just look out your window at your neighbour's chimney. If the smoke is flat, moving parallel, yet almost motionless, well, chances are it is below -20 celsius, edging to the -30 mark.

My daughter said to me as she came down the stairs this morning, mom, go look out my window at the clouds. They're so pretty.

Are you sure it's not pollution, I asked?

I went up to the third floor to look out of her south-facing bedroom window. A gorgeous sight greeted me. A solid wall of dense white pillowy clouds swirled low along the horizon of the lake. Nanabijou was blanketed. Gone. The clouds looked like a very effective wallpaper border. But, a peek to the right confirmed my fears. These aren't clouds at all, just pollution from the mill rolling across the harbour, trapped by the cold air, and instead of billowing off and toxifying someone else's landscape and breath, why, the toxic effluent was just hanging around for a change.

Yep, I told my daughter when I got back to the kitchen, they sure are pretty. But they're not clouds at all. Just pollution from the mill.

After my daughter left for her teaching placement, I sat down with my coffee to listen to CBC radio. Someone in town has written a new book about homelessness; the interview will be coming up. Someone in town dressed up as a homeless person and went out on the street to 'get the goods'. But, said the announcer, he got quite sick so he had to give up his project.

I turned the radio off. Probably this young man is a very nice young man. Maybe my neighbour. Could belong to a local writer's group. Or just a well-meaning I-want-to-get-the-'real'-story-out young man.

But I couldn't help thinking about the Anishnawbe fellow I saw from the overpass on Monday freezing morning. First, I thought it was a pile of green garbage bags that had blown up against the small shed by the traintracks. But no, I saw someone sit up. Crawl out of his sleeping bag on the ground. He seemed ok. I left him to his privacy. When I returned back from my loop, I saw he was gone. I wonder, did he also decide to 'give up his project'? I wonder if he too decided he had enough of homelessness and went back home instead? I wonder if he has the choice.


post script: Later the next day I read in the local Source community newspaper an article about the homelessness author. It seems the author himself may be Anishnawbe (not sure though). So, I thought, does it make his work then more legitimate? (not sure if the ethics of the project apply regardless). Interestingly, he was commenting on how the project did not turn out as he had imagined; in his words "We tried to do something that turned out to be a total failure." But, he states that he wanted to do something with the material he had collected. Currently he is a reporter for the Kenora Daily Miner. His book is for "mainstream audiences". Does that mean mainstream as in class or mainstream as in white middleclass? (not sure)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Palestine Health Journal: Gazans Die Because Israel Denies Treatment: International Pressure Should Prevent It, Says Barghouthi

dear friends, please visit this site and read the information on it. I posted a comment as I was very distressed, not only to find out about how many Palestinians have died at Israeli controlled checkpoints, but also that there was only 1 comment-- and it was so mean-spirited! Does anyone care? Are we so cold-hearted? How will the world be healed? What can we do to stop repeating pain if our very language causes harm?

Palestine Health Journal: Gazans Die Because Israel Denies Treatment: International Pressure Should Prevent It, Says Barghouthi

Monday, November 26, 2007

keijukainen tanssi talvella

Finnish for 'fairy dancing in the wintertime." This handmade girl-of-steel can be found in my flower garden, underneath the highbush cranberry. Whoever made her (an artist out west, in B.C. I think; I bought her from Fireweed on Algoma St a few years ago) polished her in such a special way that she reflects back differently each time you look at her.

If you look at her in the dead of night, she will appear to be dancing across the dark. She picks up the slightest shimmer of light and catches it, painting her dress with its luminosity. One night, one very deep black night, I looked out my window and couldn't even see the outline of the shrubs, but there Keijukainen was, shimmering pink iridescence, pirouetting one foot in front of the other and gleaming. She was all alone in the dark; the only one, the only soul visible.

A few winters back we had so much snow that it literally touched the soul of her foot. She looked like she was dancing on the snow, on a landscape of white brilliance.

She carries a wand of green semi-precious stones that ring out in the wind. A string of peridots chiming calm, dispelling anger, bringer of good luck and health. Protection. A light dance across the field of the heart. With a wand of peridot it is said one can dig deep into the mysteries of darkness .

Sunday, November 25, 2007

upside down world

Today, I am sharing with you a quotation that one of my friends sent me recently:

"One has to be in the same place every day, watch the dawn from the same house, hear the same birds awake each morning, to realize how inexhaustibly rich and different is sameness."
Chuang Tzu

This is so true. I walk the same paths each morning, walk along the same creek each morning, the same shoreline, see the same sunrise in a thousand different costumes, the same rocks, the same birds, and yet, if I were to share with you all the amazing photos and wrote up all the heart-stopping sights I see and the quirky conversations I have with other early a.m. walkers, why, this blog would be unmanageable!

I thought of the amazing richness of the commonplace, of the routine, of the mundane, of the same- old same-old this morning after I finished my yoga practice in, of course, the same old way. I thought of how many of us are running away from that "same place" and "same house", desperately desiring change, something new, looking in the mall for just that new something, never mind that you can't fit one more thing in your closet, dreaming of a tourist jaunt to some resort filled with people just like you, casting your eyes over someone else at the Madhouse, someone different than the person at home waiting for you....who may also be out looking for something to liven up their life....oh, the list is long. No time to make dinner. It's too boring. Always the same.

Routine. The latest discard in a disposable society.

I was thinking, wouldn't it be wonderful if we, too, made green shadows? I think our shadows are much darker....carbon coloured, in fact. Unlike the birds we are leaving a big gloomy footprint on earth....or should I say more of a sasquatch hole in the sky?

Looking at the everyday world, at what appears so routine and commonsense with new eyes, with an upside down look reveals not only green shadows on ice but all sorts of revelations.

Upside Down. A Primer for a Looking Glass World. It's a book I read a number of years ago that made me think in new ways. Here is a link to excerpts from Eduardo Galeano's upside down look at the world:

Friday, November 23, 2007

giving up the ghost

the lake is giving up the ghost this morning, that is, the warmth of her waters is dancing up from the deep and swirling on the surface. The ice is past creeping its way in and is well on its way. Have you ever stopped to listen to the sound of ice forming? It snaps and creaks and you can hear soft crystalline shatterings. Sometimes you think someone is coming up behind you, but no, it's just the ice making its presence known.

The pink and gold ray of sunshine is the surface of the lake; it's not ice yet, it's just the waters giving up the ghost.

The blue mirror is not the sky at all. I looked down from the footpath and saw a morning cloud laid like the finest tablecloth onto the surface of the water.

Two days ago the harbour was a haven for ducks and geese; this morning I saw only 7 mallards. Two days ago there was only a skip of snow on the shore and open waters. Today the lake is a patchwork of ghostly swirls, paperthin glace, floating jigsaw puzzle sheets, thick slabs of ice cones laid along the shore, and sometimes the odd ice carving startling itself out of the water by the rocks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Three Sisters

I hope the captain of the ship I saw out in Thunder Bay harbour this morning knows about the three sisters lying in wait for him.

Legend says that they were the intractable daughters of Nanabijou. Legend says that they weren't nice to younger sister, who floated up to the heavens to be with her lover the North Star. That is, after the three deviant daughters took their bows and aimed straight for her heart.

Legend says that in anger at their unruliness, Nanabijou turned the three sisters into stone and flung them into the waters around him.

Now they are called the "Welcome Islands". How they came to be felicitous and amicable from the legend, I don't know. Something tells me the legend on the city of TBay webpage has it wrong.

The 3 sisters as I have heard tell always work together. They work as a unit, a team. The 3 sisters are a killing team; there's no getting around them.

The first sister is the one draws you in. She's the one you see first. It's her beauty; a beauty beyond belief. Stunning. Flawless. Her face luminous; eyes like the moon. A song in her throat; a love song. You are left speechless, motionless before the beauty that rings out from every crag and cliff. A little death travels up your spine. Awestruck, you begin to turn in her direction.

It's then you see the second sister. Her killing magic is kindness. She is so compassionate; she always has soft words. For everyone. She is never unkind, harsh, or short-tempered. No, the second sister wears her heart on her sleeve, and as her dress is made of cloths from all over the world, she knows everyone's song of sorrow. She never leaves anyone out; she never tires of listening to your pain. Her harbour is inviting, a sanctuary. You enter her waters.

By then it's too late. You're swamped by the third sister before you know it. She's known for cut eye and sharp tongue. She can cut a grown man to the quick with... why, simply with words. Her tongue is quick as a lash and razor sharp, so too her eyes. She doesn't miss a thing--and she lets you know it. Others, too. Everyone knows now. The third sister is fierce. Unrelenting. A force to be reckoned with. She just doesn't stop. You wish you could get away. But it's too late.

The 3 sisters have snagged you, caught you, pulled you under.

There you go....down, down, down into the darkness.

Where it's cold.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

gun shy

The sky was overcast. Shades of grey. So, too, the water.

Nanabijou, when I first came over the overpass, was invisible, behind a grey sheet of sky, but as I walked along the shore it materialized faintly, as if through a gauze. Or a nylon stocking. A faint outline. Barely there. I read once that this is how newborn babies see. As if through a veil.

If you crouched slightly by the dried grasses and the eaglehead driftwood, the water was gun metal grey. Walking along the shore, past the first lookout, I stopped to watch the mallards paddling contentedly, oblivious to any grey sensibility. The muskrat was still there, chewing her greens by the shore, a ball of fur. Stopped to scratch her ear with her hind leg. When she left with a deft glide, the mallards gleaned her leftovers.

This is the best I can do with my hand-me-down camera. I've been trying to get a 'nice' photo of the hooded mergansers. Our harbour is a way station on their path south from up north. They come here in the fall and hang around for a bit, then they're off to other climes.

Highly prized for meat, I think for as soon as I spy one, it is already far away from shore or with a blink of the eye, diving under water.

Shy of humans, all of who are presumed to be carrying a gun. So, I stand at the shore, sighing.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

patchwork pigeon paradise

look closely, the close-ups are found in the patchwork facade of a downtown PA building just north of the city bus terminal on Water St.

I wonder...
who owns this building? have they heard of urban renewal?

While there is beauty in decay, didn't this building suffer a fire some time ago now? Isn't this tourist site/sight for sore eyes ready for a makeover? or has the urban malaise of neoliberal cutbacks overtaken civic pride?

well, at least the pigeons will be warm this winter!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

'Celata' means hidden

Often, what appears to be hidden is actually right before you. You simply need to look.

Sometimes it's right there, on the ground below your feet. Like this tiny greygreen bird foraging on clumps of weeds, that surprised me the other morning. I almost walked right by her, and perhaps I have many a morning. But the other day, with a dusting of snow on the ground, her ittybittyness called out.

She was darting about the weeds, nipping under leaves, hopping onto dried up stalks, dashing under cover. She was lively and quick.

She's dull and plain--so they say. Her cap is grey, her coat dusky olive green, her underside yellow. Nondescript--so they say. She was so tiny and all alone. It was the day the snow and the north wind howled into town.

When I saw her, I thought, Oh my God! a warbler! what is this fall warbler still doing here? Has she been left behind by her flock? forgotten about? Was she too busy having fun and forgot to leave? then having missed the time to migrate, she's now left alone. How will she manage with old Boreas, the north wind? with Keewatin, the northwesterly wind? with our wicked winter?

She'll never survive.

I already had her dead. I imagined coming across her frozen little corpse one morning. I wondered if I should try to catch her...what should I do? ...maybe I could bring her home and put her in a cage and then release her in spring.

Maybe you could use a fishing net, offered Pentti, who had come up the overpass. I don't know, I think I need some expert help; I'll email the bird expert.

Turns out she's an orange-crowned warbler. "Vermivora celata". Her orange crown hides underneath and isn't visible unless the feathers are raised.

Turns out she's one of the last to migrate in fall, sometimes leaving as late as Sept....or October....or November.

Turns out she's a solitary bird. Used to being alone. Sometimes she joins a flock of mixed migrants--chickadees, kinglets, vireos, juncos. She's not discriminating, any other small bird will do for companionship--that is, when companionship she craves.

But she's ok on her own. Like her orange crown, her strength lies hidden. Her resilience hidden in her small delicate appearance.

She builds a nest on the ground, often on a steep slope (that's where I saw her, on the ridge of the overpass). Perhaps she was born there on the slope, in a cup of a nest made of leaves and fine twigs, bark and rootlets. Lined with fluff and down, and a tuck of fur. Maybe snagged from the sheddings of Bleusie or Felix as they walked by.

The boreal nesting type leave the latest. So, I don't need to forage my fishing net out of the garage. I don't need to put her in a cage and worry about keeping her wildness alive 'til spring. What was I thinking, anyway? She won't freeze. She's not abandoned.

She's just different.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

an unknown angel

...left this pair of attached angels in my garden last summer when Israel had invaded Lebanon and was bombing indiscriminately. To me, this unexpected gift was--and is--a sign of hope in the dark. I know the despair in my heart lightened when I found these angels gracing the ground. They were left by the orange lily (also a gift) that I planted in the earth for sustenance, an orange lily of hope for peace in Lebanon.

I christened the 2-headed angels, "Us" and "Them" because we are all both. Everyone on earth is both "us" and "them" at the same time. There is no division. We don't live apart. Our hearts beat together. No surgery can cut apart our Siamese twinness.

By so naming this gift of grace, I reclaim the 'us and them' war-making rhetoric of US policy that has infected many a reader of mainstream media. That creates a false divide based on fear and ignorance--and a whole lot of greed and capitalism.

Now, as you can see, one of the angels has a broken wing. That means we have work to do in healing the wounds of war that are drumming fear and hate into hearts.

Below, is my letter to the editor that was published yesterday (Sat. Nov. 10) in our local newspaper, The Chronicle Journal. I wrote it in response to a woman's letter. Her letter was a support-"our"-military response to an article the CJ wrote about the local peace group (of which I am part). We went out leafleting on the national day of action to draw support to get Canadian troops out of Afghanistan. The CJ article was very well-written, and they published 2 great photos. The letter to the editor, however, was ....let's just say, not angelic in spirit. Here is my response:

In answer to being told that “protesters… talk about things that they don’t know about.”

Most citizens who take an oppositional stance to the government’s deployment of Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan have to be informed. It’s not easy standing for peace today. Desiring diplomacy rather than death—there is no sugar coating military operations; people, civilians, “insurgents,” soldiers, animals, and environments die—puts a Canadian citizen on the defensive these days.

I know because I have had to defend the dove numerous times. Defend the freedom to demand peaceful solutions, not military solutions.

I’ve done my homework; so have lots others like me. We’ve cut through the rhetoric, the Dept. of National Defence’s million dollar plus "communication strategy response to operations in Afghanistan" (i.e. pro-military media campaign). We’ve resisted pressures to tow the patriotic line, at work, at board meetings, in our neighbourhoods, even in our homes.

I do know of what I speak. I do know of risk. That is why I take my words and my body out on the street, into the public eye, write letters to the prime minister, my MP, to this newspaper. I risk to say: No to War. I dearly wish that no one, no matter who, no matter where, has to feel the fear that war brings.

I am for peace because the fear that war creates is beyond
the deepest anxiety.
I know because last summer my entire
family was in
Lebanon when it was invaded and bombed
Israel. Last summer I feared watching the news.
Last summer I feared sleeping. I woke with a start each
morning at 5 am
feeling that something terrible beyond
my control was about to happen.

Well, it was happening. I almost lost my mind.
I know I lost something.

I had post traumatic stress for months after.

Please don’t patronize people by assuming that you know how we think, what we’ve experienced. Tell me what you think, but don’t tell me what I think. That is not democratic.

Peace is not a soapbox, an infection or a protest. It’s a strategy, a dream and a song. I hope people are listening, for the sound of her wings.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

what a difference a day makes....

Yesterday it began to snow --

seriously, that is. There have been a few flakes in the air--ushered in on Hallowe'en--but yesterday the snow came in with a slam.

By yesterday afternoon all streets were a slippery danger zone.

"NO ONE should go out with the car today!" shouted my daughter as soon as she came in through the door, back from school.

Later, my husband came home with cold hands because "SOMEONE took the snow scraper out of the car and never returned it!"

This morning on my walk, my neighbour and I saw that yes, indeed, the roads had been very treacherous--someone's car tire marks left the road halfway down Dawson St. hill and veered into the front (what used to be) flower garden of a house at the bottom of the hill. Drove right over the bedraggled bed of flowers past their prime.

Oh dear. That didn't look like it had been fun.

These 2 photos were taken this morning less than 15 minutes apart. I snapped the first photo from the overpass, the second photo from in front of the train station.

We stopped to admire the birch tree--actually, the tree thrust its yellow arms before our eyes. All the other birch trees in the stand are stripped of their leaves. Every golden one dropped to the ground and well on its way to decay. But not this golden lady. She's still resplendent in her foliage.

It's her proximity to water. She thrives by it. Can't live without it. Perhaps having her roots so close to the water, weaving underneath the shore, she's able to persist long past the due date.

What a difference the water makes....

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

the sun on her back...

well, she didn't care if it was -10 c. this morning, she still went out. Actually, it turns out she doesn't mind the ice-cold at all!

Here's the muskrat I saw swimming in the harbour this morning. She was making her way from the pond (lagoon? the water by the memorial), swam under the footpath, and headed northeast.

The morning sun had just come up over the clouds hanging low over the horizon, casting a dabble of gold on her back. The sky was almost completely grey, as you can see from its reflection.

When the ice finally covers the lake (it's beginning its slow creep along some edges), she'll be busy swimming under a meter of ice, foraging for her greens, never mind the cold, never mind the darkness. Muskrats can see in almost total darkness, underneath the ice.

I often see this muskrat perched on the shore by the lagoon, having dragged its morning vegetation onto a rock. She sits there, calm as can be, munching.

The other day I saw 4 muskrats. I think I know where the expression "to bite his/her head off" comes from. It has muskrat origins. One of the muskrats swam up behind the other, but the big one in front simply snapped its head back and bit the upstart in the snout.

Off she went, back to her own munching grounds.

She has to keep an eye out for the mink, though. Mink hunt muskrats. I saw the mink (or should I say the mink saw me?) 2 weeks ago scurrying through those same rocks. She poked her head out and, extending her long neck like the periscope of a submarine (or is that only in 50s movies and cartoons?), stood stock still and stared me right in the eye. She did that a few times, weaving invisibly through the rocks and then, in a guessing game, craning her neck and peering straight at me.

I was on the footpath. I did not get a photo of her. She wouldn't cooperate.

And that is the story of my mink moment (or her person surprise, depending on p.o.v.) .

Monday, November 5, 2007

Old Rose

I couldn't believe it! Early November and Old Rose in bloom!

Facing East, no less!

I call her Old Rose because she's the biggest and strongest rose bush in our yard. She was planted years ago in the front, streetside. Next year our house will be 100 yrs. old. Old Rose has got be at least half of that.

I'm sure she's been harshly cut back many times over the years. I'm sure many a resident over the years has looked her unwieldiness over up and down and set to work to try and dress her down with garden shears.

Probably went out and had those shears sharpened first.

But, she paid them no mind.

She's gnarly and obstinate. Tough old unwieldy branches with a mind all their own. She definitely has her own shape and not shy to show it. Reaches out in her very own asymmetry.

I, too, took the pruning shears to her the summer we moved in, but she defied me.

She'd have no part of me taming her. I wasn't the first.

Despite her obstinacy, Old Rose blooms magnificently and profusely. And now, as I see this windswept November day with wet snow in sight...she's enduring.

Doesn't give up the ghost so easily. Turns a tender pink face to the East, regardless.

She has a lot to teach the other more tender Roses.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Kekri aamu / morning

November enters the colours of darkness to the northshore of Lake Superior. Here is the cloak I found over the sky and water early this a.m. while out for my walk. Often, the sky/lake that greets me when I come up along the overpass to the lake shore is like....

a 60s velvet painting.

I never did get those velvet paintings, but now, after so many early morning walks along Nanabijou harbour, I have a sense of what those painters were trying to "get." Of course, it was an impossible task. The paintings--one of a pirate ship still hangs in my mother's laundry room, a yard sale find of my dad's that we all groaned about when he brought it home--come off as tacky kitsch.

Yet the vista, the vanishing point of sky and water that finds its way through my third eye? my heart? is velvet rich, beyond any palette or human imagination. A tactile feeling of the earth/water reaching in to touch your soul. A stroking. A tenderness so dear. So beloved.

Kekri is an old pre-Christian Finnish seasonal marker. It comes around Hallowe'en. Today it is called Pyhainpaiva (dots over the 'a'). It is celebrated the first Saturday after Oct. 31 and before Nov. 6. That would be today. People go to cemeteries to visit their beloved dead. They bring candles to burn far into the night sky. The vision of hundreds of flickering flames in the dark night sky, dotted among gravestones, is lovely.

Kekri was the end of the year in the old calendar, before Gregorian and Julian time colonization. It was the time when the kummit ja vainajat visited (the ghosts and beloved dead). The time when the cloak between worlds dematerialized and one could see clearly what was before one all along.

Kekri signaled the end of work. The harvest was done, field chores had ceased, the harvest was in storage. Preparation for the long long, dark dark winter was well under way. It was a transition that signaled a turn to a waiting time. Waiting for the darkness. Who knew what it would bring this winter? Who knew what sorrow would come knocking? Whose death one would have to grieve.

To survive the winter....that is the question.

No wonder winter was the time of stringing words together, through story-telling, song, runes, melodies. When women wove their stories into tapestries to tack on the wall and sung sorrows into lamentations.

There is lots more to Kekri, but guess what? I live inside Gregorian time and my work is never finished! I've got to get back to work ...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blue gold

This is a photo of Lake Superior that I took early one Saturday morning in late October. Our lake is amazing. Anyone who lives by its shores knows that its magic is beyond description. The cloths of beauty that it dons are beyond the wildest imaginings, more awesome than the most opulent brocades, silks, damasks, or satins. It can also appear more serene than the most elegant linens, tweeds, or polished cottons....

and that is all in one day.

The reason why I have posted this blue gold shimmering mirror is because of what I heard on CBC radio yesterday morning. Jelly fish blooms and dead zones.

Apparently there are 200 dead zones in waters around the world, from oceans to lakes. The bottom of Lake Erie is a dead zone. It used to be dead as a corpse, then like a zombie come back to life; it was slightly improved, but now again, thanks to our carelessness it is returning to the dead.

My sister and I thought last night about dead zones. Appropriately, it was Halloween. A dead zone is a body of water where the oxygen level is either gone or too low to support any life, except perhaps some bacteria. It's water that has no oxgyen.

So, my sister said, I guess it can't be H2O anymore.

What would it be, then? I asked. Just "H"?

...yes, like H for hell, said my neighbour this morning on our walk.

Trying to imagine what water without oxygen would actually be is ....spooky. Scary. Sounds like some creepy science fiction movie. Who ever heard about water without oxygen?

If we drank it would there be any benefit to us? Would it quench our thirst? Perhaps not as no fish can live in it. No life at all. In some places, like the huge dead zone in the Caribbean Sea, jelly fish colonize the borders, amassing gigantic jelly fields in this dead-to-other-sea-life zones. The giant turtles are all gone, so too many of the large fish that used to feed on jellyfish.

I wonder if tourists on cruise ships sail right through this dead zone and notice this lifelessness below them?

The mouth of the Mississippi is another huge dead zone, but I believe the largest one is off of the coast of Africa. While the Dead Sea is a natural ....dead sea, our "new" dead zones are a result guessed it: progress. development. civilization. (somehow those words stare out that they actually mean the opposite. Like water without oxygen. It looks like water, but it's not because it can't be H2O, as it has no oxygen. It's a chimera. An illusion. A simulacrum of what it's supposed to be. A false representation.)

Now, at the root of the massive deadening of water that is occurring is our use of fertilizers. While oceans and lakes can repair and heal some damage, we are piling it on without reprieve or rest. The waters can't keep up to our abuse, to the sheer amount of our abuse, to the cumulative damage we keep ignoring. The Mississippi delta, for example, is full of fertilizer effluent from farms all the way north up to Minnesota. The waters collect fertilizer and animal waste runoff from states along its banks and by the time the waters reach the sea, the river is a churning mess of manmade madness.

Last night, while we were talking and thinking about and trying to imagine dead water, my sister and I were looking through a stack of books that I had recently picked up. Interestingly, one of the books I cracked open had a section on how the fertilizers we use today were developed from the leftovers of World War 1. That after the war there were huge stocks of nitrate (essential for the making of explosives) lying around, but there wasn't a market for explosives. So, let's develop a new market! said industry. So, industry decided to push nitrogen fertilizers onto agriculture.

...You're kidding! said my neighbour. Well, now it makes sense! After the Oklahoma bombing I was always trying to figure out what fertilizers had to do with making bombs. ...

who the person or persons were who came up with this original brainstorm of war chemicals to farming and food.... I can't imagine what sort of headspace they live in. I would imagine that whole areas of their brain that should contain justice, compassion and responsibilities to 7 generations is simply....missing. Dead zones.

Then, the 2nd World War added a boost to this renewed use of war chemicals. This time phosphoric acid esters were re-invented as insecticides. Quote from the book "After the war they had large production capacities and stocks and they decided that what kills people should also kill insects. They made new formulations of the stuff and sold it as insecticide" (Jose A. Lutzenberger cited in Hungry Corporations. Helena Paul & Ricarda Steinbrecher, pg 13).

Now these very same re-fashioned death chemicals are standard agribusiness and farming "aids" that we call fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides. I believe some of that is based on gyphosates which is the same #$%@ chemical they carpet bomb blueberries with in the forests around northwestern Ontario where I go to pick blueberries. (next post: my blueberry time bomb story..also found in your cereal...)

So, when we look into the dead zone, into the dead waters multiplying today at an alarming rate, we look into the mirror of war.

It is a mirror not made of blue gold. It is not even made of gold or even of cash...i.e. hard cash. It's that invisible commerce jetting about the stock market casino of cyberspace, fueled by engines of the military-industrial complex.