The Functional Beauty of Nature’s Designs — THE DIRT

Wild Design: Nature’s Architects / Princeton Architectural PressThe new book Wild Design: Nature’s Architects by science writer and essayist Kimberly Ridley is a slim, charming look at some of the most interesting results of 3.8 billion years of evolution — the beautiful and always highly functional forms of plants, fungi, insects, spiders, avians, and mammals.…

The Functional Beauty of Nature’s Designs — THE DIRT

Tufas~ —

These strange formations called tufas, are in Mono Lake at the eastern edge, of The Sierrra Nevada Mountain Range in California. They are made of calcium carbonate and formed by the interaction of fresh water with the alkaline lake. Mono Lake is 2-3 times more salty than the ocean. It is one of the oldest […]

Tufas~ —

Micro-season: “The Mountain Stream Freezes Over” — Naturalist Weekly

We are at the end of the micro-season, “The Mountain Stream Freezes Over”. This micro-season is the second part of the mini season Major Cold. We celebrate this season with poetry and an investigation into the importance of the earth’s fresh water system.

Micro-season: “The Mountain Stream Freezes Over” — Naturalist Weekly

World Prayers for Peace — Dawn Pisturino’s Blog

(Krishna plays his flute) Hindu Prayer for Peace Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real. Oh God, lead us from darkness to light. Oh God, lead us from death to immortality. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all. O Lord God Almighty, may there be peace in Celestial regions. May there be peace on […]

World Prayers for Peace — Dawn Pisturino’s Blog

Awareness and your presence

photo of a turtle swimming underwater
Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

Awareness is the key to transformation. And what is the key to awareness? Your presence.

Focusing our attention on the need to protect the world of nature – whether it’s the oceans – or the air – or the forests where we live – a great deal of energy and a vast amount of time is spent by very committed and very dedicated people trying to explain to public officials, government agencies, and others – what they should do and how they should do it. Pass this law. Stop this harmful practice. Ban the hunting and trapping of endangered species – or any species. Do this or don’t do that. Sometimes this can be effective. Often it just falls on deaf ears.

What tends to be missing is that we do not comprehend the genuine lack of awareness of these public officials. If we are focused on preserving the beauty and majesty of the natural world which we care about intensely, and the public official or the businessperson who we are addressing is focused on the inner drive that he feels to be successful, to uphold the expectations of his family and his community, or to create a thriving downtown where he lives or to bring a lot of industry and economic prosperity to his local area – his world and yours are just two separate worlds. And there is hardly a bridge between them.

In this situation, it won’t do much good to explain that the highway that he wants to construct or the mining that he wants to do is going to disrupt the herds of deer or the birds and the other life of the forest – because your effort will only be seen as the very annoying interference of some kind of “environmentalist” (probably, he thinks, from somewhere else) who is pretty much evil and who only wants to harm his business, his community, and maybe his chance to run for local office too.

So, the more energetically, the “environmentalist” pursues his vision of protecting the natural world, the more dangerous, threatening, and irritating he or she seems to be.

What is missing here? Awareness. I remember a chance conversation I had with a man many years ago.  He told me a story – that he had always rather disliked dogs – he felt they were kind of dirty; he’d never grown up with them and was a little afraid of them. Then someone unexpectedly gave him a dog. (I’m absolutely not recommending giving a dog to anyone who doesn’t care for dogs. That is the wrong thing to do and can lead to tragedy.) But in this particular case, the man became enchanted with the dog — he fed him, he took him for walks, he found that the dog was his closest companion, and he loved him dearly. What brought about this change?

Awareness – simply awareness. For the first time in his life, he allowed himself to be around and be with a dog. The dog was no longer an alien being, possibly dangerous, but instead became a close friend. He became aware of the true nature of a dog.

All animals can bring us closer to nature – and, of course, especially the wild ones.

A significant percentage of the people around us really do not focus on wildlife, trees, and the natural world at all. They may, just possibly, care about a tree in their own yard.

But purely human concerns reign supreme in their consciousness nearly all the time. Yes, they do feel that clean air is a good idea, and maybe a lot of electric cars might help bring that about. But what is missing is a deep connection with the great mystery and profound beauty of the world of nature. And so, we need to, with our presence and our voice, speak up for the natural world — not simply berate people because they want to build a lot of condos on top of the leks of endangered sage grouse. Instead, we need to show them a sage grouse – out in the wilderness, or on TV, or in a video, or a painting, a song, or a newspaper article. It’s like introducing a friend. Introducing a sage grouse is similar. Here is a living being – enchanting, amazing, beautiful, spectacular, living his life and caring for his flock and his family. Because that awareness is just not there unless we, through our presence and our voice, bring it there.

Our task is first to be present – often this means simply physically present – at a town meeting or at the site of a proposed mine or wherever we need to be. But sometimes being physically present isn’t the best idea – if it ignites violence during these troubled times, that’s not effective – and, too, there’s the pandemic, at least for the time being. But, especially these days, we have so many different ways of being present – online, on zoom, through videos, artwork, through song or music, poetry, letters to the editor, standing by our backyard fence talking with our neighbor. We each have a voice. And so many ways to use it.

The key is to be present and to start with one other person — just one.

This doesn’t mean being blaming or condescending – and sometimes we may need to stay away from a situation, if we know for an absolute fact that we’re going to lose our temper, because that will only do harm to the cause we represent.  But whenever we can and as much as we can – we need to be present for other human beings – not as a judgmental tormentor – but as a friend – a friend who can be present, in kindness, who can show others how their dog would rather not be tied up on a chain, how it’s possible to build a fence instead – or how to look out over the distant hills and feel grateful for the gentle green peace they bring and the spectacular sunset.

We need really to start, not with instructions, certainly not with recriminations, but instead simply by being a presence, a friend, a neighbor — a presence who carries an awareness of the living spirit of the earth and who communicates the mystical beauty of nature all around us. To open the heart and the awareness of one person – and others too, one by one — is one of the most life-giving things we can do.

It may be the quickest way to change the world.

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2021

Within the clouds

flock of penguins near sea
Photo by David Dibert on Pexels.com

Within the clouds

Within the mountains

Within the universe,

All things are living and alive.

The universe, a friend.

There is no death,

No shrouds

No hearse.

Only the pale shadows

That flit, mothlike

Between the standing centuries

Of drifting snow.

Only the lost call

Of the raven

Who will find his mate again nearby

In the green sheltering cottonwood tree

Only the young giants, wandering

On a dim, mistaken world

While overhead

Calling in the mist,

The Great Winged Beings

Are there

Still – soaring upward,

Friends of the night,

The sun,

And the dragons of old

Yet the fires of kindness

Burn in the night of gleaming intent,

In the eyes of Heaven

In the soul of the mountains

In the heart of the eternal world.

In the night,

In the day

That is to be,

Always here,

Always near,

While the penguins dive

Into the white-tipped waves of the Antarctic sea –

Jubilant

And ever-free.

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2021

If you like this poem, you might also like this website, Forest Voices of India https://forestvoicesofindia.com

Do you see the wind?

eagle in flight
Photo by David Dibert on Pexels.com

The sage brush nods her head

In deference to the sun —

Quite —

Juniper branches wave,

Exultant.

Tiny, brave

Plants rustle in delight.

Did the flock

Of goats startle at the ringing

Of the bells of dawn?

The bald eagle,

With downbent beak,

The first of the season

To return,

Sails — her white head held

High,

Sky queen,

Jubilant,

The stars all gone.

Ravens call

Sparkling black in the air

At the spare

Skeleton

Of an eon past – or maybe yet to be.

An urn

Cools in the quick-running stream.

While, off the coast below,

The gill

Of the fish, finned,

Shines in the magic of the rolling sea

Waves fall

And gleam,

Snow-

Tipped in the path of the fierce wind dragon

While Meenakshi looks on

From the shore,

Sea-shelled.

Fish-eyed Meenakshi

Who danced long ago in the sea

With blue dolphins —

She came ashore

Then from the wandering sea

By the coconut palms, in the wind-deep roar,

Whose fronds bend and bow.

No.

No one sees the wind now.

No one has ever seen

The wind,

Yet the wind is there,

All around, everywhere

The living spirit who enlivens

The earth, who brings a confidant

Day; Vayu – God of the wind,

Just as the Holy One,

Who is never seen at all

Anywhere,

Nor ever heard to speak,

Except in the echoing thunder,

Yet, with nothing said,

Gives

Breath to all that lives,

Including the tall

Red

Rock –

Ancient pillars standing,

Mountains,

The strong frame of the earth, awake

By the lake

Of wonder,

Of bumblebees and lilies,

Under the moon

And the sun,

And the eagle’s wing,

In the wind,

In the wind

That runs soon

Through the open door

In the rain-blown rock.

***

By Sharon St Joan, November 2021

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2021

If you like this poem, you might also like this website, Forest Voices of India https://forestvoicesofindia.com

The book Mystic Universe by Ashish Dalela

rocky cliff above rippling water
Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

In his very fascinating (though just a bit incomprehensible) book, Mystic Universe, Ashish Dalela outlines many very intriguing concepts. I actually really love books that are incomprehensible, so that’s not meant as a criticism – and the reason the book is quite challenging to understand is very simply that a lot of it is written from the perspective of ancient Vedic knowledge, which really isn’t easy to convey in modern, western terms we might be used to.

Sometimes understanding requires that we hop into a different time and space – a different world — and that’s not always easy to do. A world that may be truer, but that we are not familiar with.

One thought that I found quite profound is his idea about the globe and what is shown on it.  When we look at a globe of the world and turn it round and round, we see continents and countries, like the United States, India, Kenya, Ecuador, the UK, Italy, Slovenia, Thailand – all kinds of countries and their capitals and major cities – all important places where people live.  Well, that’s okay, but that isn’t the real globe as it really is.

The real earth is quite different and what it actually shows, in reality, is forests, rivers, oceans, mountains, deserts, lakes, plateaus, plains, and meadows. If we were to show the real earth as it really is, on every globe, then perhaps we could get our priorities straight and stop putting all that is human first – and all that is of the world of nature pretty much out of the picture altogether.

It is a fascinating concept. Of course, being human, our first thought is to think that is quite a silly idea; we feel we really do need to know where Los Angeles or Nairobi or London is – and we really do need to see a road or a flight path that will take us there. But maybe, after all, it might just be more important to see the location of the last forests on earth or the majestic mountains or the seas where the great whales swim – and then we might have a deeper understanding of where we really live – and less of an impetus to destroy the planet and more of a wish to feel a sense of love and reverence for Mother Earth.

Ashish Dalela has written many books – all fascinating. This one is Mystic Universe, An Introduction to Vedic Cosmology. It’s available on Amazon.

By Sharon St Joan

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2021