Beavers are Fluminists

My essay at requisite Zoomorphic. Introducing Fluminism ~ protection & proliferation of wild processes, a vital form of love.

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Autumn Senescence, Planet Valens.

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Photo by me.

The nights are drawing close here in Wales, and the earliest Autumnal tones cloak the hills to the South West of the city. From my top-floor flat, I have watched the deciduous Leckwith Woods green-up and brown-down. I remember all as a time-lapse scene, though winter is yet to come.

From afar, the hills appear motionless, though shades of brown have turned to bright lime green, darkening to rust and mustard yellows. Wisps of dragon’s breath ~ transpiration ~ sometimes appear, but the skies above are endlessly restless, cloud fronts billowing in kaleidoscope spaces. All forms, at once plump and evanish, clear mostly to the North West. I have become a sky-watcher.

Yes, the leaves are dying. But the trees are not. I am witnessing leaf senescence, the last stage of life leading to the death of the leaf and the birth of the bud. As with all life, through space-time, this a process with purpose, interconnected and rare in our universe. It’s an orderly process too, a sonata with beat and chord progression, ancient music crucial for deciduous plant resilience.

In the sun-months, the leaves of the woodland canopy snatch power from the sun and store it by carbon fixation as sugars and biomass. When the trees are topped-up with all that is needed for winter, every spent leaf becomes a liability. A full solar canopy acts like a vast sail, and as depressions deepen and barometers drop, gales can pull a tree over, worse still, taking others along with it. Before the rapid change of climate, of which we are both perpetrator and witness, temperate zones have been prone to snow, the additional weight a burden to a tree with a large surface area. So the tree sheds its leaves, a teleological response to adverse conditions.

The tiny leaf cells undergo huge physiological, biochemical and metabolic changes, increasing oxidation and hydrolysis of molecules ~ proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. Hydrolyzed, they are sucked from the leaf into a newly forming bud. More are stored deep down in the roots for next year’s vernal burst of leaf and flower.

The crescendo of yellows and oranges are revealed by the breakdown of green chlorophylls in chloroplasts. The reds are sugar-boosts; the more sugar, the brighter the red. Like a conjurer before an audience, what was always there can now be seen. And we humans find the show an aesthetic wonder, a cultural meme of the season of Fall. Harvest was once the traditional English term. So many of us now live in cities, with produce sold all-year-round, Harvest seems almost obsolete. Yet it really is not. Locally grown, seasonal, organic food is the best. Perhaps, we should consider restoring the name Harvest for Autumn, in a secular sense. It may help in the drive to reconnect our collective psyche with nature.

I wonder what owl makes of Harvest, or fox. Is it time to celebrate the efforts of the sun-months, and hunker down for winter? I think so, for these too are the old human ways. If one is an insect, things might be different. The brighter the leaf colour, the more toxic a threat, a biological theory gaining momentum but not yet at consensus. Up close, within touch, different species track light reflecting from leaves in many different ways. We are the same ~ kin ~ but not the same. The Unity of Opposites lives strong in the woods.

Once the leaves are discarded, hardwood limbs are left naked and rounded, so the Arctic blasts can whip through with minimal resistance. Eventually, the annual symphony of the woods softens to diminuendo and a deep winter silence. There’s more. Each tree-type has its own structure and cortiform (itself, life-giving), an ethnicity evolved over eons. Water is metered to the risk of frost, and it posseses its very own whip-speed of flex and length of reach. When a woodland is in full succession, and there is an abundant mix of species, each crown sways at its own pace. The intervals and crown shyness allow both room and gentle friction to slow down the movements, reducing the risk of harm in a storm. Between gusts, the canopy quietens, a touch of stillness like the pause between symphonic movements, and the next gust will cue the orchestra to play on. The rippling touch of the crowns, whilst roots and hyphae embrace beneath the soil means the woodland withstands the onslaught. Chemical signals are abound in the air, and it would not surprise me if there’s a collective sigh of relief when the winds eventually die down.

Woodlands are more than food chains, their ecology akin to microbiological holobionts with a collective DNA, a silvis-hologenome. They are community, koinonia, a multi-ethnic group hug. In fellowship, they protect all ages, generate biodiversity and provide resilience in time of great need. A plethora of fluministic waves of life flow in multiple directions and this, I assert, is a vital form of love. Testament to evolutionary co-operation, succession has the advantage of seasonal knowing ~ the woodland ‘knows’ which species grows best, with whom and where. We humans may claim stewardship, but are biased towards our own needs rather than to those of the silvis-hologenome. We’ve poured carbon into the atmosphere and expect newly planted woods to correct our wrongdoings. But when we know only such a small fraction of the complexities of nature, and we plant a forest, we do so largely blind and deaf. I think we need to take a breath. The biosphere is in rapid change, and it may serve us well to remember the value of evolved wildness, adaptation and woodland succession.

Even so, the husk of the leaf will fall in spins and flares, helped by the elements that have pressed and shaped their very existence. On the ground, they become exposed to the living rhizosphere, warmed by the energy exuded by the process of decomposition and decay, consumed and recycled as soils for nursing the next generation from fruits, seeds and nuts. Understanding the microbiology beneath trees has vast potential, but we must be cautious in the aspirations of a corporate agenda to patent nature for profit. Mixed with crystalline minerals and H2O, the essence of tree will be drawn back through the roots and into the wood-mass for years of growth to come. Such timeworn processes deserve our highest respect. In the city, solitary trees are dysjunct from community, yet they also shed leaves, only for them to be swept or blown away, deemed by insurers as a mere slipping hazard. They are left to grab whatever they can to survive, the carbon we blythly pump into the atmosphere, the minerals from the pavias we lay, and the polluted run-off from our roads and carparks that kill their soils. Surely, we can do more for the trees that bring so much joy, especially in the season of Autumn.

Leaf senescence on Planet Valens ~ such beauty in process, a reflection of season, of our own roots in Harvest, but a resilience of community and exquisite symphony of life flow. We are part of nature, a late edition, and we’ve so much to learn. And at a time when we may need them more than ever, it is prudence to consider, we are all still new to the trees.

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Circles ~ a poem.

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Circles dissipating on the lake

define what it is
to be a fish
lunging for a brilliant sky,
wishing to join others
like oneself, in a vast ocean.
GinnyB © 2012

 

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Praximund

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Photo by me. The Wye through trees.

There are problems with the theory of Rights taking precedence over Responsibilities. Many indigenous people understand this. Rights are merely human constructs, legislatively fixed (when processes are not), but politically vulnerable and impressionable by further human culture/population dominion.

Natural processes and fluministic interconnections have evolved, are evolving. There exists intrinsic, self-willed, complex patterns across space and time. Free-willed, save for our excess. We participate, as part of nature, yes. But because of this excess of destructive behaviours, rivers, forests, mycelium and migration need more than ‘Rights’ afforded only by humans, and a minority of humans at that… for this too is dominion.

So I have a name for the responsibilities and an adherence expected. A unity of opposites ~ a natural law, but not a law.

I call it Praximund (latin; process/Earth) the deepest possible respect for natural processes, and a fundamental requisite of fluministic action. Infringe only with negative consequences to oneself and all life, the biosphere, as we are all interconnected.

There is honour and pride in celebration and ritual of it.

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But in one of those ironies…

But in one of those ironies that mock human purposefulness, the harder people try to control wilderness – draining wetlands, burning forests, clearing mountainsides, paving meadows – the wilder the weather becomes. If people are looking for wilderness now, all they need to do is turn their faces to the sky.

Kathleen Dean Moore (1999), The Aesthetic of Storms, Holdfast.

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Photo by me “Irony, above Cardiff” 2017

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A Tale of Two Rock Doves

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The first day I moved into our new top-floor flat, a poorly rock dove landed on the balcony, waif-like with feathers broken and missing. His chest was nothing more than a wisp of grey smoke. His eyes were dull, and lumpy growths protruded from his matchstick feet. I thought he might die. Then again, I thought I might too.

I was not feeling strong. This was my first step away from married life. We were separated.

My husband flew our daughter to Canada for half term, and Ben-dog stayed with my sister and her husband. The marital home was sold and I was left to handle all. I had sorted, packed, thrown out and recycled. I had cleaned and dusted. I was totally exhausted. I hurt.

Once the hired hands left, hardly a place to stand existed indoors, leave alone sit. Boxes lay deep like a swollen, cardboard river through the rooms, and the sofa stood upended, a bear waiting to hook out some tasty books. The shower was the best place to drink my tea. Last minute, more things had to be stored in a lock-up; extra journeys, extra costs. There was no wi-fi, of course. I found myself outside on the balcony alone, breathing the chilled February air.

As the weak sun fell from the sky, and the lights of the city began to twinkle, my bird landed next to me on the balcony rail. Compassion consumed me. I guess I craved someone to love, to be present, and he needed help.

Somewhere in a kitchen cupboard, hurriedly thrown in the back, was a pot of seeds I use for cooking. I waded through the cardboard river and found them. I sprinkled a few sunflower hearts and pumpkin seeds on to the balcony tiles. The dove dropped from the rail, bounced and hobbled towards me. He was too sick to be afraid and began to peck. He kept pausing to gaze at me, and I whispered to him, “things will be better, I promise.”

Did he trust me? He seemed surprised someone cared. Over the weeks, he returned, sometimes many times each day. I sorted my desk and books, and regained a sense of order, along with caring for my girl once she returned. We made her bedroom cosy, a safe retreat from any emotional turmoil, and she returned to the usual patterns of school and then weekend father-visits. I bought some mixed feed and my bird’s condition improved. His eyes began to sparkle bright orange. His feathers grew neat and tidy, and he preened himself regularly. His chest puffed out with air-brushed greys and his neck shimmered green and purple in the sunshine. My daughter named him Smokey.

One day he flew back with a mate. He took care of her, loved her. It was an honour to watch. My daughter and I delighted in seeing them bond and flourish as a pair. We still do. Their mating rituals are sheer gold. I noticed they started to visit only one by one, and guessed they were nesting. Both males and female rock doves are attentive to their young, feeding and sitting on the eggs, as fair an arrangement of parenthood as ever there was. Down there, somewhere among the slate roofs and brick chimneys, there was a clutch of warm, peeping eggs they had made. It seems I played a small part in a miracle of life, and this still makes me happy. Occasionally, Smokey coos for me, a liquid, loving call. And when I hear him, I find my way to him and we share quiet moments together. There’s no food, just presence. It’s lovely.

I now have a few rock doves visit my balcony, each discernible by their markings and colours. I observe them at rest and in flight. Fat wood pigeons dominate feeding times by savoire faire timing and a dandy stride. Sometimes, I admit, I feel compelled to supervise. I know the gulls and jackdaws too, the magpies and even a leucistic crow, but not as well as my rock doves. I seem to have become just another bird up here in our eagles’ eyrie. I have also seen sparrow hawks riding roof-waves below like albatrosses and watched peregrines patrol the open skies above. I keep a look out.

The second main rock dove of this tale is also a special one. She visits only when there are strong winds and cloud bursts, when the air is so drenched there seems no space even for a fly. She’s tenacious and wise. If I am at home, she knows I will feed her, even in the heaviest of downpours, with no other birds to compete. If I hear tinpany on the roof or the walls in the day time, I look out for her through the glass doors. I call her Angel.

So much is possible.

I’m grateful to Smokey and also to Angel; I think my two rock doves understand. Life’s commonality of need and provision applies to us all ~ people to people, people to pigeons. Pigeons to people. No-one, or life-form, is any different. We are kin and interconnected. It’s agape to feel, and fluminism to participate. My birds are still wild, and I am still Ginny. Divorce has not been the death of me and my bird family have found new energy and rhythms to life.

My daughter says I am the mad pigeon lady. I think I may have been all along.

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Anger, a strong messenger.

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NASA NOAA39’s GOES satellite image

 

It’s 8 o’clock on Sunday morning and my phone alarm sounds a carefully chosen softly-softly chime to wake me up. I climb out of bed, stumble to my galley kitchen and click on the kettle. Ben sleeps cocooned by blankets on the sofa, and is dreaming as dogs do, paws and legs twitching, as if in full chase.

I’m thinking now about the people and wildlife of the West Atlantic as I have thought of those in Africa and Asia.

Barefoot, coffee in hand, I unlock the patio door and step out onto the balcony. It’s raining and cool. I look up to watch the scudding clouds, thick and pallid. Summimbers lace the hills to the west of the city’s sea of slate rooves. There’s a stiff breeze, nothing compared to what’s going on elsewhere in the world.

A wave of anger suddenly burns away at my insides. I try to distract by watching the juvenile herring gulls in flight, their wings and bodies like unsteady turbines in the gusts. But the anger doesn’t go away. I can feel it rising.

Anger, despite some religious teachings, is an important emotion. It acts (is affecting), as a signal that all is not as it should be. It can be a motivation to change, comes in varying strengths and can manifest as controlled and uncontrolled, direct or indirect. It can also conjure the urge to harm, if left unchecked.

I need to acknowledge my feelings, because supressing them is harmful. I come inside, close my books on evolution and sit at my desk. I open my laptop and begin to type, furiously.

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Ang is an ancient, seed word to mean narrow, constrict or choke across many languages. It has been cultivated to convey sorrow, angst and fury. Think of anger also as an ancient tree about to be felled.

Archaic anger is the museum inside us, the tree trunk, where unsorted issues are stored deep in our consciousness as growth rings. The deep heart exists, can become hollow, yet there’s lignum to defy the odds, to defy gravity. The cortiform, rough or smooth, is our defence. Some have thicker skins than others.

Surface anger is our reactive state, leaves and branches, often the first to be hacked off by the tree-feller or attacked by insects. Leaves are blown around in the wind, bristling, dynamic and short-lived. The anger is current and present.

Root anger is the deep responsive urge to seek justice. It goes deep into the soils and substrate, the great wrongs, moral injustices and societal failings. It’s where the connections with the soils, the mycelium and other trees exist. Without the roots, all is lost. The tree could never regrow. Attack the roots and one attacks the community, so the community may join together to counter-attack.

Misshapen over the years, like a coastal tree grown bent in the prevailing wind, anger can eat at the heart, sometimes unecessarily, because our inner worlds are not always a reflection of truth. We can be deceived by ourselves. Far better to air the greivances. The signal, to ourselves and to others, gets attention. Controlled, we can launch into discussion and try to resolve the problems. Acknowledge wrong from right. But supressed and it can turn explosive or snidy and manipulative, so often destructive. If we communicate in articulate ways, this can fuel us to to bring matters to a head for fuller resolution.

Despite the awful pain and risk, anger is an opportunity. Many of us have been trained (or punished), not to show our anger from a young age. Anger is framed as insubordination and selfishness, chastised and curtailed by our elders with lasting consequence. But there is honesty in the expression of our feelings. And if we do it naturally, we can learn to control it for more positive outcomes. If that honesty is not respected, especially in a close relationship, then perhaps there is no real love. The fear of rejection looms large, but love is strong enough to withstand even a hurricane.

If our love for all life is strong, we’ll be unafraid to show our anger. Discuss all issues and find resolution. Don’t let fear of rejection stop us. Nature can never reject us, even if we wanted it. We are inseparable.

Yesterday, I poured over online and TV news for coverage of the multiple, ongoing climatic ‘breakdowns’ (the new buzz), though ask me and I’ll tell you…climate isn’t breaking down. Far from it. It’s ramping up, augmented by our stupid habits, shaped by marketeers, and the few who benefit excessively from that particular accumulation of monetary wealth. This is what makes me angry, because even some environmentalists won’t even accept the real changes needed. Markets will solve all? No. Facts? Sadly, not always. Valuing life and diversity for so many other valid reasons than an homogenous single unit of money is our best bet. And we do this through education. That’s where we really need to focus, and across all aspects of our daily lives.

Extremes are fast becoming the new normal. If the biosphere is conscious (some may believe in Gaia), hurricanes would be a sabre-rattling show of root anger. Raw and unleashed, they rile against a collossal and accumulated disrespect for the biosphere represented by our egocentric Anthropocene. Yet all are harmed, human and non-human alike. Instead of utilising anger’s energy in manifesting conscientiousness and positive changes, as humans are able to choose to do, those swirling masses of heat energy simply dump it in process. Gaia’s wrath? That wrath seems too indiscriminate, bearing down on human and non-human life alike and destroying habitats. There are too many innocents harmed, and the vulnerable suffer disproportionately.

The media coverage has been hugely anthropocentric, relentlessly showing destruction caused to human settlement and development by the hurricane cauldron, as if we are to mourn that loss. This truly is the age of stupid. Human development amplifies human-caused climate amplification. This is not to demean the human lives affected but the choices we, as societies, make. Fire and flood? No journalist immediately mentions the toll on ALL other life, as if they are frightened of appearing uncaring for fellow man. Or perhaps that massive loss (our life support system), simply does not cross their minds.

The human ego is leviathan, behemoth and ziz. Sea, land and air.

One of the most incredible wetland areas in the world, the Everglades, was due a direct hit by the worst of Irma and it was barely acknowledged in public, beyond the rangers who care for it. Mangroves are heralded as the great resilience, worth billions…. but even this disconnecting method of valuation is eroded when ecosystem sensitivity is blasted  by ‘new normals.’ Past events show us that life, though individually pummelled, can return yet uneccesarily altered, and not necessarily for human good. But it takes time for rejuvenation, deep time, which we as a species may not have, and we will extinguish other species before they can evolve. The pain is happening now and will only become worse. My conclusion? We are overdue for a golden era of egalitarian Earth-System pedagogy. Let all know life is interconnected even beyond our imaginations. Then stand back. We’ll inevitably see more Bookchin-ish Communality arise over Pinochet’s authoritarian Neoliberalism.

I’ll finish now with my response to Alan Duncan’s ridiculous incarnation as UK’s Foreign Secretary. Please click to read the full thread. Now is OVERDUE to talk about action to avert Earth Crisis. Caroline Lucas would have been right to unleash her anger. Right there, in parliament. The so-called seat of British democracy.

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Cortiform

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Photo by me.

Cortiform (latin bark/pattern)

I have been trying to find a single word to describe all the variable characteristic features of bark including colour, texture, pattern/fissure, thickness, density and hardness.

I couldn’t find one, so this is my #inventaword for today. Enjoy.

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Water, microbes, life, climate ~ exploring Fluminism.

 

24661005390_e71ddf7187_bPhoto by me.

When water pulses through our blood vessels, and through all existence, it branches and converges with an array of forces. By hydrodynamics and changes of state, it braids sky with earth, underworld with ocean.

Seven billion human souls are dependent on water, yet we are a small measure of its flow. Beauty and complexity abounds, in the form of life, in and around it. Beings flourish in the smallest of mountain springs, among the echos of the karst underworld, in the greatest living rivers and down in the deep blue sea. When water falls as rain through a forest canopy, it soaks through the humus, and all awaiting lifeforms spring up, out and, importantly, together. A wave of nutrients flow outwards, carried by water’s own intrinsic nature, but also by the animals it nurtures. When water gathers to channels and wells, life bathes and there seems more certainty in the world.

Water gives life, and some say life made some of the water. Earth is a shiny blue dot lit up by a star, a place in space where water has gathered uniquely from within rock and deep without, pulled from a vast universe of dark matter and energy.

Zillions of microbes gathered at first in water to settle and then to colonise Earth. All other life has evolved to encompass them. They do not simply live alongside, but on us and within us, directing moods and determining the sex of some species.

Water is flow. Microbes are flow.

Raindrops fall with gravitational force, impacting various structures of leaves and soils in complex ways, dispersing microbes and carrying them afar in the bioaerosols created. I observe that evaporating snow may work in similar ways. Water and microbes are interconnected.

Life IS climate, climate IS life. There is no separation. All is flow.

A mathematician would perceive inordinate complexity in a matrix of interconnectedness. There is no single rule, save there is no single rule. Bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa and viruses all converse in chemisignals. The world is never, ever truly silent. And we are never physically separate, but wholly interconnected.

Microbes relay messages to the collective. They commune. Microbes are mind, and determined, a challenge to Darwinian thoughts of success derived from catalogues of failure. Success, it seems, is intent and attempt, rather than failure after failure. This new knowledge of microbial wisdom supports cooperative evolution. We, as humans, are an extention. We, and our genome, can determine our future in order to fairly flourish. Suffering will always be part of the matrix, though we can choose to reduce it by our own actions. There is responsibility, not administered by authoritarianism but by generous, informed self-will. I am now interested, at least, in noimetics, but flow, as dynamic and interconnected life, is a constant love, because that is the quintessential nature of the evolution of life.

Imagination is an evolved gift, we can imagine goals, articulate them in a collective consciousness, like the microbes. And with both rationale and affect, set out to achieve them. There is fluministic love in ‘doing’ these things for the promotion of life’s interconnectedness. Those that imagine and act on this better world are Fluminists. This love is a doing word.

We also know that water and microbes can be a force majeur that overwhelms and destroys. We’ve seen it across the world this last month. Some have felt it. The destruction, loss of life and loved-ones, not just human, has been traumatising. Water and mudslides have ripped into community, clawing and scraping the toxins left recklessly about, draining them into the rivers and eventually to the sea. There will be more human disease as the climate shifts and life migrates. There has always been, but we will see new forms and strengths in others, and across other species ~ animals and plants. The collective immunity will take time to adapt. The way we apply our own lives to the interconnected flow is shown frequently to be a dis-ease. We can change. It will take commitment and a collective mind, like the microbes. It will take Fluminism and Soliphilia.

To not commodify, but to sanctify.
To aid and multiply life flow, not destroy it.

These are my noimetic meanings. I can only hope they ‘affect’ you in some essential way.

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The sound of rain on leaves….

The Rainbow Serpent, Aborginal Art…

 

 

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Mental Distress = Rain Gauge

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Self Portrait

Despite all effort to break the stigma of mental distress, some still assume some kind of weakness manifest as illness, limp or spent.

What naivity!

To the contrary, it takes deep fortitude sometimes just to endure each day. It takes steely courage sometimes just to ask for help.

Mental distress is no weakness. It’s a brave search. It’s a cultivation of resilience to deal and discount implicit threats palpable by bio-chemical shitstorms within us, whatever the cause.

It’s an evolutionary adaptation giving us deep life-insight somehow. I really think so, and so does Randolph Nesse. If all truly recognised this point, think of the good ways society might change.

Mental distress = rain gauge. Life and society. Read the measures, the answers are more likely to be here.

But it takes relentless stamina, and sometimes we just need a break.

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