A red flag with hands on either side of a quarter moon

Today is the last day of my vacation. Sadly I didn’t achieve that relaxed vacation feeling until sometime in the middle of Saturday afternoon. In spite of all the wonderful mornings gardening, I was just so wound up that it took forever to chip it all away, and now that I’m ready to have a relaxing vacation, I have to go back to work. *sigh*

Along with the gardening this week, I spent a lot more time writing in my journal, had some hard bike workouts, and wandered restlessly around the house. Oh, and I finished my first woven fabric! I started it several months ago on a homemade cardboard box loom. I had intended to make a bag but my dimensions were so far off it is going to be a small basket. I still have to close the bottom of it up, but when I get that done I will share a photo. 

Saturday evening James and I went mulberry foraging. There are lots of mulberry trees conveniently located on bike trails. The one we went to is a five minute bike ride from our house on a trail next to a creek. We managed to pick enough to put in our Sunday morning sourdough waffles. So tasty! If I had another week of vacation I would go on a full-forage bike ride for more mulberries, Juneberries, and cherries if they aren’t all gone yet. But I don’t think I will get the chance to do that, so have set my sights ahead for some raspberry foraging. I know a patch. I will get some from my garden in spite of Fat Rabbit’s winter gnawing efforts, but it will not be as much as usual so a little forage will make a nice supplement.

This morning I picked three Juneberries from my own garden. The one Juneberry Fat Rabbit did not eat down to a nub is in the chicken garden. It is about shoulder high, so not very big, and the branches arc over, and the three I picked are the only ones the chickens couldn’t get to. It used to be Marianne who ate most of the Juneberries and Sia has taken up her mantle. While I am disappointed she ate them all, the couple times I saw her and her white bouffant hopping up to get them was entertaining.

Rhode Island red chicken named Elinor
A not wet Elinor

I’ve decided that Elinor is actually a duck stuck in a chicken suit. Whenever we clean the waterer and pour out the stale water onto a plant, Elinor gets so very excited. Sometimes she even stands under the water as we pour it out. And then she starts trying to drink it as it soaks into the ground. 

This morning I poured out a big watering can on the chokecherry in the chicken garden and she rushed over and ran back and forth through the water as I poured it out. I swear if we had a sprinkler she would love running through it. And yes, she likes being out in the rain, though usually she has enough sense to not get soaked, I have seen her a time or two when she didn’t have enough sense. A soaked chicken is a weird sight; the feathered equivalent to a wet cat. 

For the record though, she does not like walking through water. Several years ago during a long heat wave we made a shallow chicken pool they could walk in to cool off. Chickens don’t have sweat glands, but their feet are naked and sensitive and we had heard a shallow pool to cool their feet would make them happy. No one, including Elinor, stepped into it once. And we left it out for a couple days too to give them a chance to change their minds about it. Nope.

Oh my birds, I do love them.

Part of why it has been so hard to unwind during my vacation is the Supreme Court BS because they made rulings on more than just Roe. Bless the women of the Hot Takes podcast. In their latest, Supremely F$%#ed, they talk about Roe, or rather Dobbs, since that’s the case that was ruled on. But since the show is about climate change, and while women’s reproductive rights are absolutely related to climate change, their focus was mainly on the decision regarding the EPA and whether it can regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. (If you would rather read an article, check out the one from Grist)

The ruling was very narrow and does not apply to all greenhouse gas emissions, only those in relation to a policy that was never implemented in the first place, and that is why this case is so unusual. The court ruled on a “what if” situation, not on reality. That’s what makes it so dangerous.

The podcast episode is great because they have a lawyer on who also understands climate change issues, and she talks plainly through all the details of the case and the implications. Well worth the time!

The podcast cemented a realization I came to recently when I read The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s the third of the Earthsea books and was published in 1972. As I read I kept thinking, this book is about climate change! But it couldn’t be really since climate change wasn’t much on the radar of most people when Le Guin wrote the book. But it’s totally about climate change!

Something in the world is out of balance. Wizards are forgetting magic, people are forgetting songs, fights are breaking out, people are wandering around on drugs to dull the pain of the loss of meaning in the world. The archmage, Ged, and his young prince companion Arren, are on a quest to figure out what the heck is going on and to try and put the world back in balance. Arren thinks it might be some kind of pestilence or blight, but Ged says nope. And now, here’s a long quote:

“A pestilence is a motion of the great Balance, of the Equilibrium itself; this is different. There is the stink of evil in it. We may suffer for it when the balance of things rights itself, but we do not lose hope and forego art and forget the words of the Making. Nature is not unnatural. This is not a righting of the balance, but an upsetting of it. There is only one creature who can do that.”

“A man?” Arren said, tentative.

“We men.”


“By an unmeasured desire for life.”

“For life? But it isn’t wrong to want to live?”

“No. But when we crave power over life—endless wealth, unassailable safety, immortality—then desire becomes greed. And if knowledge allies itself to that greed, then comes evil. Then the balance of the world is swayed, and ruin weighs heavy in the scale.”

And indeed, Le Guin wrote an Afterword for the book in 2012. She was not thinking of climate change at the time, she was specifically writing about greed. And she writes,

We are all supposed to agree that you can’t be too rich or live too long.

But, Le Guin, a student of the Tao, goes on to talk about life and death and how they are a balance; from life, death; from death, life. You cannot have one without the other. That is simply the way the world works, or should work when in balance. Put people get greedy. And so everything is thrown out of balance including the climate. 

In the book, Ged and Arren have to walk, while living, into the “Dry Lands,” the Earthsea equivalent to the underworld. There they confront the greedy wizard who made the hole in the world so that he could live forever. But of course, while not dead, he is not actually alive either. 

Ged and Arren succeed in their task, but find they have gone so far into the Dry Lands that they cannot go back they way they came. There is no back, only through. And so they must cross the Mountains of Pain in order to return to life. 

And I’m reading, and screaming in my head, climate change! climate change! We have gone too far to turn back. We cannot stop climate change, we are already at 1.5C of warming in some parts of the world. And not a single government is doing enough to even slow down warming. In fact, in the U.S., Republicans, and some Democrats, are trying to make it even worse. We are wandering in the Dry Lands and have gone too far.

The only way is through.

It felt kind of good to realize that. Not that I ever thought we could suck all the carbon out of the air and make like it’s 1699, but I realized I’d been carrying around a bit of despair about not keeping warming to 1.5C (a completely arbitrary number to begin with, but it has gained a magical urgency), and I decided to let it go. A space in me opened. It’s a small and tender space. And now I have that moment of relief when you put down something heavy and your arms are tingling and muscles hurt a little. I have to keep myself from picking it back up, or picking up something else instead. I want to keep that space open to possibility, love, and compassion.

We will have to cross the Mountains of Pain. A lot of human and more-than-human people aren’t going to make the journey. None of us knows what the road will be like, whether it will be short or long, steep, rocky, wide or narrow. Arren had to carry Ged in the end, kind of like Sam carrying Frodo except there is no dramatic Gandalf and Eagles rescue. I will keep walking the path, helping where I can, how I can, ready to carry, not a burden, but life. As Ged said,

We may suffer for it when the balance of things rights itself, but we do not lose hope and forego art and forget the words of the Making. 

  • Song: Beyonce: You Won’t Break My Soul. She dropped this song at a great time and I play it every chance I get.
  • Song: Kesha: Rich, White Straight Men. What if rich, whit, straight men didn’t rule the world anymore?
  • Podcast: Normal Gossip: Squirrel Enthusiast with Tracy Clayton. Smithereens recommended this one to me, and at first I was wondering, what the heck? But I stuck with it and had a good laugh. Competitive parenting, chickens and squirrels all added up to a great story.
  • Podcast: War on Cars: Tesla is a Fraud with Ed Niedermeyer. Interview with the guy who dove deep into research Tesla and Elon Musk and published a book about it. I was not a fan of Musk before, but wow, the fraud this guy pulled off floored me.

Related Posts

20 thoughts on “The Only Way is Through

  1. I have a LOT of hope in Generation Z. I’m in a horror movie club that meets online every week, and the things they (mostly in their mid-20s) say about change, and the fact that they are openly proud as a generation, gives me hope that my Elder Millennial self normally cannot conjure up (perhaps I have some leftover crumbs from Gen X). For example, when the government ignores regulations that would ease climate change, young people invent a business to counteract what’s happening. I’m thinking, for instance, of the group that gathers all the food in their area that would end up in a landfill and create more gas and actually get it to people. It’s millions of pounds of food. Although it stems from money, I know electric cars are selling like hot cakes right now because gas is expensive. Yes, they are still cars, but I’m glad they’re not those stupid gas guzzling SUVs or trucks everyone seemed so keen on in the last two decades. Will these small efforts change the world? I don’t know, but like you realizing you’ve put down a heavy burden, I’ve realized that if I don’t make room in my heart for small bits of hope, I’m likely to have a heart attack from extreme anxiety. I also try in every way to not buy new things (clothes, furniture, tools, etc.). I try to make running water do double duty (getting the dirty dishes wet while I’m washing my hands instead of rinsing things off immediately). I now have a clothes line (small victories when they birds don’t shit purple on my towels — this is how I know the blackberries on the back of the lawn are growing).

    Also, that’s funny your chickens wouldn’t get into the pool. I see kiddie pools for sale at garage sales a lot, and I might get one for my next adventure away from home, which nearly killed my flowers this year. I didn’t realize they’re so thirsty.

    1. I have much hope for Gen Z too, though I fear everyone is relying on them to save us all and that’s plain wrong in so many ways. Yay for your clothesline! In all the years I have been hanging out my laundry to dry, I have not once had birds poo on it. Small blessings 🙂

        1. I love Alanis Morrisette but for some reason I haven’t been following her music for years. Thank you for this song! And now I have some musical catching up to do 🙂

  2. Things are baffling. As always, I’m writing, sending money, taking local action. But also gardening and working on controlling what I can (which isn’t much!) but trying to take care of myself. There are several things going on in my circle that are extremely stressful (not to mention on the larger stage!) — getting the message loud and clear that I need to shore myself up so I can continue on with a (relatively) clear head and rested body. Working on it! To that end, I have a nice stack of summer-reading books, and am working very hard on the garden. Sometimes focusing on the small things is all we can do, as we continue to ‘go through.’ Hugs!!

    1. Sorry to hear Daphne there is so much stress in your circle right now. Do take care of yourself. Work in that garden, visit those chickens, read those summer books 🙂

  3. I see The Farthest Shore as kind of like taking the novel’s argument to an extreme to expose the truth of the premise it’s based on–basically, that necromancy never pays. That if mortals over-reach, there will be a price. Sometimes we act like there’s a tipping point and after that it’s armageddon, but the idea of a price gets across the gradualness of the results of our bargaining with mortality and what sustains ours.

    1. But was it technically necromancy since the wizard didn’t bring anyone back from the dead and did not himself die? He found a way to live in the Dry Lands without actually being dead. But, yes, no matter what, there is always a price.

      1. The definition of necromancy includes any attempt to see or talk to the dead. Anytime a mortal tries to pull aside the veil that separates the living from the dead, there’s a price.

  4. A duck in a chicken suit 🤣🤣🤣! Your chicken won’t stop surprising me!
    Regarding the latest decision of the Supreme Court, I’m just shaking my head in disgust, over and over they have shown their true colors and I don’t know how they can still be respected. It worries me that the US is retiring into isolationism, although global regulation is so important for addressing global issues. I will listen to this podcast you suggested for sure.

    1. LOL Smithereens, the chickens never stop surprising me. They are such a joy. As to the Supreme Court and the US in general, I think it might get worse before it gets better 🙁

  5. I hear you, Stefanie. I like how you phrased it, the only way is through. It’s exasperating, I think, because the pain is unnecessary, and it will be felt by so many beings who didn’t ask for it or contribute to it. But we are where we are—we’ve chosen the hard route (or at least our leaders have, and we didn’t do enough to stop them). The journey ahead is certainly scary, but we can carry each other. We may exhaust all our other resources, but we have infinite supplies of love and compassion, and we’ll need it all.

    1. Thanks Andrew! Yes, i like how you say that, we are where we are. We have indeed chosen the hard route and we have to stop pretending that there is going to be some magical last minute save that won’t disrupt our comfortable lives. Yes, we can carry each other and we will need all our strength and love and compassion. What a lovely comment you’ve made. Thank you.

  6. I’m so freaked out by this EPA decision that I joined Starhawk’s “ritual to transform rage into action” today. (Yes, weirdly, it helped…) But I don’t understand why more people are NOT freaking out. Maybe because there is SOOOOOO much confounding bullshit right now.

    But as you say, this decision applies not to actual things but to “what if”. It can be interpreted by an asshole Court to strike down regulations of any and all sorts that are not created specifically by an act of Congress. But most regulation is created and implemented by the regulatory bodies that Congress has created, not by Congress itself. And in any case, “an act of Congress” is not a forthcoming thing these days… so this decision could be used to completely hamstring our government.

    So far I’m still getting over the initial shock and rage… but I’m writing my way through it… and I’m coming around to the idea that it may be that this could blow up in the Court’s face. If they want us to look to state’s rights and local regulations, well then maybe we comply. With more gusto than conservatives would like, I’m sure… don’t know if we’re ready for the implosion of the federal system, but then it’s likely we’ll never be ready… and here is the opportunity we need to get us on that path. Maybe…

    1. It is disturbing Elizabeth how few people are talking about the EPA decision. But then no one is talking about the decision on Indian sovereignty either. At first I thought that maybe it’s because there were so many horrible decisions they couldn’t all be addressed at once. But now I’m pretty sure it’s because the mainstream media doesn’t care because it won’t get enough panic clicking and hysteria from the public. But it should be their freaking job to let us know why we should be upset about it.

      Maybe reporters don’t understand enough about the law to know how regulations work? Maybe they just think Congress passes a law and that’s that and have no idea about the regulatory and administrative processes that go into actually implementing the law and making sure the law is followed? I dunno, but the press is increasingly useless.

      I too, hope it all blows up in the Court’s face. The federal system does need to end, the country is too large, it needs to be smaller, but yeah, not sure we are ready to go there yet. But stuff like this pushes it closer. Take care of yourself!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: