Posted by 350.org from an Op-Ed piece by activist Bill McKibben, remixed by Stephen Thomas.
One of the things that I treasure about blogging is that it’s simple enough to do–even when the kids are home–as evidenced by these posting highlights harvested from each of my blogs this summer. I hope you find a title or two that intrigues you. As always, your voice is most welcome. Read a post, share a comment/connection!
~The Marriage Journey: posts from My Sister’s Wedding.
Kelly Salasin, Fall 2010
Upon rising after three hours of sleep to sun streaming through crystallized trees in a tinsel-like forest, the late night trip to the Emergency Room seemed like a dream.
When our eight-year old woke just after midnight with a throbbing headache followed by vomiting, we were scared. He had fallen at the ice skating rink that afternoon and whacked his head hard. I checked his pupils, tracked his eyes and asked him questions. It was probably just the stomach flu–which didn’t seem fair either.
Handing him over to his father, I grabbed a flashlight in search of the computer to see what the Internet could tell us. As a last resort, I would wake our family doctor. The phone line was dead… again.
If it hadn’t already, this three-day weekend now seemed solidly stacked against us. We’d been without power since Thursday and our water supplies for washing and flushing were spent. Through each moonlit night, I imagined the welcome sound of appliances clicking back on. My husband and I were “ready” the moment it happened. We’d run to flush the toilets, start the dishwasher–at least the rinse cycle– and refill the water jug and tub. With trees still falling, we couldn’t count on the power to last.
But this was all a fantasy. No electric truck had been to our road or any of the back roads of southern Vermont where the storm hit the hardest. “It would be a week,” they told us. But they couldn’t mean that.
When I returned to our bed, I took my son from my husband to try and make some sense out of this predicament. Watching him hold his head and writhe, made it hard to think. “Maybe you should run next door to the neighbor’s for their cell phone,” I suggested so that we could call a doctor.
“We won’t get reception,” my husband countered.
“What about driving into town for a phone?” I retorted.
Reluctantly, I resigned myself to waking the rest of the family to make the twenty-minute drive to the nearest hospital. It was 1:11 am when we pulled off of our road and onto Route 9–dodging trees and power lines along the way. My husband sat in the back holding a trashcan under Aidan’s mouth while we marveled at the palace of ice that surrounded us.
The admitting nurse at in the ER was from our town and we commiserated about the condition of our roads while the boys watched ice hockey in the empty waiting room. A half an hour later, a doctor examined Aidan before calling in the technician from her own deep sleep and tree strewn road.
At 2:30 am, she asked me to lie down on the special “bed” first– in front of a space ship like donut hole that would scan my son’s brain.
“I’ll use the lowest dose I can,” she assured me, giving me something new to worry about. Together we draped Aidan with heavy “pink frosting”– his favorite– to protect his body from the radiation– and then we left him alone with the machine as it carried his tiny, trusting body into itself and hummed, enjoying this late night snack. Aidan looked delicately angelic and I forced myself to smile at him through the glass window.
“Stay perfectly still, Aidan,” the technician reminded him. I watched her for any signs of concern or relief as she monitored the images on the screens. “Any history of cancer or brain surgery?” she asked, “No,” I gulped, as I tried to discern what the cloudy shapes appearing on the computer might mean.
In an attempt to shift this experience from medical to educational, I casually asked if we could get a picture of his brain for school the next day. Aidan joined us in the computer room and we watched as it sent the scans to a radiologist in some country where there was one awake. “See the two sides of the brain, Mom?” Aidan pointed. “I learned about that at school.”
Before wheeling him back to the ER, the technician offered Aidan a stuffed teddy bear and some snowman stickers which made him very happy and gave me an eerie “children’s hospital” feeling. “I’ll stay until the results come back,” she offered kindly, alerting me even more.
We rejoined my husband and teenage son in the curtained examining space–and settled in to wait. To pass the time, I suggested we resume the family game of “Christmas Carol Charades” that we had invented on our first night without power.
During these evenings without power, we found ourselves turning to bygone pastimes like this, from music making to singing to simple games. Once the sun would set, both boys would gravitate to the candle-lit warmth of our bed where I would read the next chapter of Three Cups of Tea before sending them off to their own rooms.
The doctor reappeared just after my husband guessed Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. With a smile, he pronounced that Aidan’s scan looked, “Great!”
With a collective exhale, we left the hospital a little after three, but not before we all enjoyed the convenience of a restroom with running water and flushing toilets. To savor the good news, we took the long way home through the hushed town of Brattleboro, taking in the lights before we arrived at our road where the only glimmer was that of the bright full moon reflecting in each prism of ice. My husband reloaded the woodstove and we were all tucked back in bed before four.
Upon waking with the sun a few hours later to the sound of icicles crashing to the frosted forest floor, Aidan immediately launched into recollections of the evening. He pulled out his snowman stickers and hugged his new, snow-colored bear. ” I like going to the hospital!” he said, a little too enthusiastically.
“You know you can get a job there someday,” I offered in the hope of channeling his pleasure.
My husband headed out to the pond for the morning ritual of chopping through the ice tofill a trashcan with water so that we could flush our toilets another day.
Rather than feeling victimized by the sleepless night and the demands of a fourth day without power, I began to see myself as a heroine on a Winter Storm version of “Survivor”.
It was a Sunday, so I ordered us all into “house blessing” mode despite the chaos that surrounded us. Lloyd swept the floors and Aidan emptied the trashcans. I cleaned the toilets and the sinks with the new waters. Afterward, we all gathered to decorate the tree as Christmas carols finished off the last precious minutes of the computer’s battery.
Frost makes frozen confection of the lawn
while ice forms– too soon–upon the pond
and mirrors the bare season to come
with angled etchings of broken twigs
The dock is slippery when I cross
so I proceed with care
as if at a viewing
of Summer past
Just as I step down upon the rock
that leads back to the road
I am tapped on the shoulder
by a hanging branch
Kelly Salasin, Late Autumn 2009
Today, I have the privilege of joining my voice with thousands of other bloggers AROUND THE WORLD on behalf of climate change. You can do the same by signing up here: http://www.blogactionday.org/en/blogs/new.
As a writer, I tend not to think as globally as “climate change” because I get overwhelmed, very quickly. But I’m pushing my comfort edge for today– for my fellow bloggers, human beings, and for this gorgeous planet we have been given.
I am encouraged that so many voices share this concern. Most encouraging to me is the growing religious-environmental movement which offers the following resources for inspiration and action:
Renewal is the first feature-length documentary film to capture the vitality and diversity of today’s religious-environmental activists. From within their Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim traditions–women, men and children are re-examining what it means to be human and how we live on this planet.
At the heart of the film Renewal are stories of combating global warming and the devastation of mountaintop removal, of promoting food security, environmental justice, recycling, land preservation, and of teaching love and respect for life on Earth.
Another inspiring resource from the religious community is: The Carbon Fast, developed by the Religion and Ecology Committee of the Brattleboro Area Interfaith Initiative (Brattleboro, VT.) Modeled after traditional religious fasts, this interfaith fast sets out one action for each of forty days, by which one can make a difference in some aspect of energy consumption.
The fast is based on the book, The Low Carbon Diet, an easy to use guide that will show you, step-by-step, how to dramatically reduce your CO2 output in just a month’s time. The book is published by Chelsea Green, a publisher of sustainable living books since 1994.
Sharing initiatives such as those listed above will be a part of the International Day of Climate Action on Saturday, October 24, aiming to raise awareness about the need to reduce CO2 emissions below 350 parts per million to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
I look past the garden’s destruction
to the Autumn’s colors parading up my road
bright reds and fiery oranges calling
Look up! Look up!
I want to look down,
Mourning the passing of summer
but the colors clamor
Look up! Look up!
Gifts are on the horizon
Autumn’s turning in
Is the medicine I need
Kelly Salasin, 2008
the thanks we whisper
to the sun
from my lips
to my breasts
you have to kneel
at the shore
to hear the melody
of the water
no need for a fire
while the sun’s light
September 21, 2009