I notice little things, like the window boxes full of flowers on a neighbor’s house, or the small triangular garden in front of another’s, with beautiful standing stones separating the colorful native plants. I noticed the tree growing on the side of the road through a park, with the indentations of a now-gone vine winding around the trunk like a Maypole ribbon, or another tree with a thick vine still clinging to it that looks for all the world like a boa constrictor.
I noticed the emergence, after transplanting last year, of my giant yellow irises, which are indescribably intricate and beautiful (pictured above). Since I’m a mediocre gardener, the fact that they’re blooming at all is a small miracle.
The great blue herons are hard to miss, perched on their nests in the tops of the pine trees above a lake nearby. More subtle but just as beautiful are the red-winged blackbirds that flit around us and the unidentified bird we can see perched on her nest in the crotch of a tree along the road at eye level. Will be fun to see the babies emerge.
And fox sightings have become so common that I’m disappointed if I don’t see one every day.
I noticed that traffic on the main road through my neighborhood – full of academics and office workers – has been almost non-existent, while traffic across town, where more essential workers live, seems almost the same as always. I noticed that our air is much cleaner, but over there it’s not. I noticed that those neighborhoods are lower income and more people of color.
Last week I attended a nine-hour tribunal by Zoom on the efforts of a small, non-federally recognized tribe on the Tex-Mex border that is trying to stop a plethora of fracked gas infrastructure assaults and I noticed a different way of conducting meetings, a way that includes prayer and singing and enough time for speakers to tell their stories. It includes a holistic perception of animals, plants, rocks, and two-leggeds. I like that way.
I noticed that pipeline companies tend to name their life-destroying creations after indigenous nations: Iroquois, Algonquin, Dakota. As someone’s sign at a recent rally proclaimed: “Nothing Algonquin about it.”
I also noticed that the assault on black lives has continued apace. Here’s a link to a piece I wrote about my local connection to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, which has been superseded by the police killing of George Floyd, videotaped by frantic bystanders and released immediately for all to see. Visit SURJ on Facebook for actions you can take.
The NY Times published data showing that about 1,100 people are killed every year in the U.S. by law enforcement officers, but we only hear about a tiny fraction of them. Alas, some of the cops are people of color themselves, who have decided they are blue before anything else.