Treehugger Goals: My Plastic Problem

The Little Bird and I were having her favorite (chili) for dinner because she had a bad day at school, and bad days need better endings.

I felt like I started it off badly with early-morning ranting about how the world’s going to hell and no one cares, brought on by the radio news that popped on as I turned on the car to take her early to school for jazz band. She interrupted my rant, turning to her pal in the backseat and saying, “My mom’s a treehugger.”

At dinner, I brought it up again. “This morning you said I was a treehugger.”

“I tell all my friends that you’re a treehugger.”

“Really?”

“I mean it in a good way, Mom.”

I was quick to reassure her that I wouldn’t take it any other way than as a tremendous compliment, only…

I’m not sure I live up to the moniker. Oh sure, I do plenty of easy things. But I feel like there’s a million things I let slide. And truth be told, one of the reasons I so often end up ranting about the world going to hell and no one caring is because I lump myself in with the uncaring.

Which isn’t quite true. I do care. It’s just so hard, as an individual, to believe you can make any difference. Because… well… can you?

But then I read this by Jonathan Franzen in the New York Times. And then the Little Bird called me a treehugger.

In some ways she’s right. We don’t drink water from plastic bottles. I compost, most of the time. I keep adding native plantings to the yard, and I grow some amount of food every year. I use no pesticides, herbicides or non-organic fertilizers. I am a pollinator-lover and a bird-watcher. I holler if the lights are left on.

But still.

It doesn’t feel like enough.

It’s not enough.

So, acknowledging that new habits take time. Acknowledging that the little bit I can do will have virtually no real effect on the state of our ecosystem much beyond the borders of my own yard. For the sake of eliminating some degree of the shame I feel for participating in this vastly destructive human experiment, I’m going to try to take on the cognitive dissonance I feel when I hear myself called a treehugger.

I want to deserve the name.

First up?

Plastic.

Why plastic?

It’s a completely selfish choice, in its way. I’m choosing plastic because news about plastic seems to be the sharpest stick poking my shame and apathy.

So the intention is set. Reduction, as much as possible, is first. Then, of course, reuse. And finally, recycling as a last-ditch attempt to keep plastic somewhere other than the ocean or a landfill, where it takes hundreds of years to decompose.

Join me? Join me!

Starting… right… now!

Have ideas on ways to reduce and reuse plastic? Share them in the comments! And I’ll pop back in after a couple of weeks to talk about what we’re doing here.

Good luck out there!

fieldnotes 11.29.16

Waiting

With no clear sight then,
I cannot say I knew content —
but oh, the safety of delusion,
until resignation becomes disruption.

It is not schizophrenia.

(…the unending curse, not of misinterpretation but worse — the absence of a common language…)

It is colder than I thought —
the wet iron cold of deep November
but with sun still in it
as the wind rattles their tops,
what used to be flowers,
on these days when the coyotes know us.
And the oaks are nearly naked now.

None of these ever learned to resist winter.

We need more of what each other has.
Like looking in a mirror,
each with too much and not enough,
alone and not.

And within these means of confinement —
still —
the world just keeps getting bigger
and more beautiful than we ever imagined.

Despite the way I keep stumbling
accidental cockleburs and thorns —

(…how in winter, the thorns turn too,
red and blue so we can see…)

and after all this time,
I am finally learning to carry the prairie with me.

You taught me that.


11.29.16
(57/44)

‘the best and the very worst thing’
10 shovelers. flock of grebes comes in. this is not schizophrenia. robin. how as the goldenrod’s leaves die back, a million things that grew in between are revealed. chickadee. 3 geese. then 9 geese. all in the air. muddy going into the woods, and the pond is high and birdless today. river flooded and running into the overflow. cardinals. mallards at the riverbend. slip into the woods by Old Twisty for a rest stop. go ahead and make a proper visit to the Hand Tree. try to avoid cockleburs. mostly succeed. that hunger is a virtue. (he sits. he eats. he drinks. he sleeps.) redbellied woodpecker. nuthatch. shovelers and shovelers and shovelers. 2 coopers hawks. couple out to spot pelicans. i hate to tell them they’re too lat,e but they are. by the time i’m on my way out, it’s getting warm. properly warm. unseasonal warm.

Notes:
Quote 1 (best, worst): Dave Ramont / ‘Lisanne’ from Taw (2009)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 11.26.16

Seeds

Taking for granted the pound and hum,
invisible machinery —
a trembling electrical storm in the blood.

That red fruit is buried deep below the bone —
an earth’s worth of feeling.

We push our fingers into sweet black dirt —
mine into yours,
yours into mine —
drilling holes for surprising seeds.

And the roots thicken as they feast beneath,
taking known and unknown —
to name it,
and again to name it.

We are suited for something better than this,
but I suppose we must make do.

And it’s quiet in the woods.
We must name each other without making a sound.

In another season,
those unseen branches will burst from our chests.

Just like everything else,
we keep pushing inward to dark,
growing a hardness
and a skin to withstand it,
so that maybe when it comes back
we’ll be better gatherers of light.


11.26.16
(46/32)

45 degrees. cloudy. and still. the hundreds of geese wobble into the Marsh. blue heron. lots of shovelers and a blue-winged teal. my fingers freezing on the binos. flocks of robins. junco. sharp-shinned hawk.
the world showing us how neutral is anything but.
flock of goldfinches in flight. a seeming sleepiness. an illusion. i try to ignore my whiskey head. walking it off. ‘get out of my way.’ angry stomp. envy. despair. rage. frustration. how do i not burst into flames? drown? suffocate? freeze? goldfinch. clouds and smoke and naked trees. mourning dove. undergrowth still mostly green. mallards on the pond of course. red bellied woodpecker. blue heron at the riverbend. rustling of oaks that hold their leaves through winter. until new ones grow. harrier. boatload of canada geese. coots. another heron.

Notes:
Quote 1 (out of my way): Dave Ramont / ‘It Ain’t Funny’ from Taw (2009)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

(tbt) Ramble

From November 21, 2012

Ramble

The river smells of ghosts again.
Sometimes we worry they’re our own —
that this rambling brings us
to no good end.

Was a time
we were strong and settled.
Now is expectation —
and we must trust
attentiveness
to take on what defense
we can no longer manage.

And we should be so lucky:
that something might happen
to break the intensity
of this day-to-day.

But this loneliness we looked for

dominates.

We celebrate
the dark and the dead,
and can wish it were otherwise —
but know

you will never find us here.

And the answers
are dust —
something to be found out
and cleared away.

fieldnotes 11.15-16.16

Nameless

Troubled by troubling,
we weave fog to keep each other close —
no wind to dissipate,
no weather to catch a sail away.

And,
with its hidden distances,
the world is close enough to touch.
at once near and far:
sumac, riverbirch,
ethereal
silhouette of looming,
naked trees.

How we embrace it in all but deed.
How that nearness pulls us to action —
devouring loneliness,
always moving in it and with it,
a tear that pulls like a tide toward some true home:

in which to break bread,
in which to make,
in which to go gently
toward a mutual keeping of sleep.

Behind time,
behind time,
and ever behind time —

time that must be taken for so intricate a weave,
time that grows the value of what takes time to know.


11.15.16
(54/38)

flock of tree sparrows. juncos. shovelers. for a second, the sun behind the fog. other side of the marsh is the barest hint of dark gray shadow. something white, possibly a pelican. 5 geese. little bluestem and indiangrass still brilliant in sheltered places. everything close seems, somehow, more present.
the eating of poison. how that resonates in a cascading series of ways, probably more than how it was meant, but then we are what we are.
absurd darkness.
it was a red shirt in the dream. insensible shoes and rain. and the river. the rest lost in the appropriate fog.
bluebird in the high meadow. 1 goldfinch. another big flock of tree sparrows.
the walking women all together today, instead of in their usual twos and threes. how i wish i knew the language. how their apprehension makes me sad.
plenty of mallards in the pond. kingfisher. heron. yellow maple and caramel oak leaves, almost done but still making a scene, with the understory still green and fading, punctuated by red berries and chickadees.
namaste.
pelican. shovelers. grebes. mallards and one black duck.

11.16.16
(60/40)

2 geese on the marsh, which is frozen today, though i expect it will thaw as the sun gets higher. shovelers on the pond, which is not frozen at all, not even at the edges. still frost in shady spots. mallards on the river.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 11.8-11.16

Wrong-Footed

Trying to escape catatonia —
afraid to pick up speed and storm:

how wrath always rises with the wind,
fills the sail to send,

how it is all beyond the animal,
the machine,

how it makes us tremble.

And you know what comes,
after.

The leaves are falling fast now,
but it is all so far beyond us.
Cultivate faith in the sun
and how it counters the sadness
of seeds in the wind,

how it confounds what grows dark inside us.


11.8.16
(62/49)

sunny! windy! it is november and there are still singing bugs. tree sparrow. (winter resident returned) 10 pelicans. 2 herons. 1 egret. big flock of grebes. how sometimes naming is the only thing to hold to. naming, and solitary, slow movement. shovelers. sunlight vs. wind. tops of the indiangrass catching both. leaf smell. white crowned sparrow. orange sulphur. then two, dancing.
after so many years of trying to be understood, when do you stop?
another sulphur. fast in the wind on the high prairie. so little to see today, relatively, but still, the walking is the only thing that doesn’t feel wrong.

11.10.16
(63/41)

9 pelicans. shovelers. buffleheads! 1 heron. we set the clocks back this week, twice*. it’s hard to adjust to the gathering dark. it takes a minute to start a fire. and the world is a lot more than our petty measurement. savor the slow decline. nothing is ever in one place for long. now of the river.** red tailed hawk. sulphur. cardinals. white crowned sparrow. kingfisher chattering in loops around the pond and river. 5 mallards with 3 black ducks.

11.11.16
(50/38)

1st flock of sandhill cranes. troubled by troubling.

Notes:
*This is surely a reference to the 2016 presidential election.
**A reference to
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 11.3.16

Circe’s Will

What I would give for Circe’s hard heart
as she covers the waterfront,
watching the fog,
weaving a web to snare her sailor,
yet to find a story’s end.

‘I wanna be mesmerizing too.’

A mirror maze,
a beast unveiled —
her need so precise,
no deviation can satisfy.
Shedding one thousand shadows —
breathing beauty into the barren.

Unbound!

She might feed them for a season –
but knows how to bind is to break.

When the water lifts the unnamed lonely boat
and carries it on a diminishing tide,

she unweaves the woven —
sends them back to the loneliest ocean.


11.3.16
(67/48)

50 degrees. sun’s trying to work on the fog but failing so far. flock of … juncos already? yes. fox sparrow too.
who are our heroes of introversion?
deer. orange and yellow flame trees in the fog. it makes for a sense of unreality. magic. heartsore. just there. little bluestem in full color. just when you thought the grass was done. bluejay. 3 curious cardinals. purple finch. song sparrow. white throated sparrows. heron flyover – real low. flicker. Oh! a buck right out of the sumac. wow! clockwork. everything in its way, like clockwork. softness of moss. cardinals and juncos. mallards on the river. sharp shinned hawk. 9 pelicans. green heron. grebe. sandhill crane. 2 little red dragonflies and one sulphur.

Notes:
Quote 1: (mesmerizing): Liz Phair / ‘Mesmerizing’ from Exile in Guyville (1993)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)