March is set to go out like a lion, which is, I believe, the way it came in.
A partially sunny, breezy day. Although the day is presently warm, cold is to follow by tomorrow, along with copious rain. We have our first daffodils and a few bushes have begun to leaf out, yet most of the trees remain in the bud stage. On calm, warm days our yard is rich in bird song even as we notice the steady decline in spring’s aural landscape.
Here on the cusp of April we appreciate the growing warmth, lengthening days, and nurturing rain. This year those April showers are especially important as while we are no longer technically in drought, we remain much too dry. The periodic rains of the past few weeks have been followed immediately by dry, breezy, sunny conditions that have rapidly dried much of the moisture from the soil.
I have had my first dose of vaccine and will have the second shortly. I have noted the shift of folks from anti-vaccine to a growing willingness to be vaccinated. This comes as a relief although I remain concerned that enough people will decline the vaccine to allow the virus to continue to mutate, endangering us all. As a polio survivor I struggle to understand those who spurn vaccines that protect us from the long term harm caused by viruses.
The issue of greed that threatens the common good is poignant at this moment, as politicians publicity undermine the right to vote, erase environmental protections, and give away our beloved public lands to their cronies. If lands and voters have no standing in the public and legal spheres, how are we to create the changes our time demand?
Of course, there is ample precedent for these costly, deeply colonial, behaviors. Let’s remember that only relatively recently have women, African-Americans, and Natives been able to vote. Those voices were clearly heard in the recent Presidential elections, spawning an abundance of laws intended to deny marginalized groups access to voting.
The assault on public lands led by the prior administration has been partially halted for the present although the threat remains. Much of the land in dispute is fragile, ecologically crucial terrain but this matters not at all to those forces bent on commodifying it. Immediate economic gain is given preference to the long term health of our descendants, other species, and the planet.
Of course, land theft and purposeful environmental degradation are not new. They have come in many forms throughout the history of European dominance in North America. The list of broken treaties, displaced communities, and destroyed ecosystems is far to lengthy to document here.
I imagine those who would disenfranchise and destroy are rooted neither to the land or to communities. They have long demonstrated a profound lack of caring for both the landscape and for the communities embedded in it, denying the right of peoples and landscapes to live in harmony and peace.
For many Native, and other traditional, people the land is the spiritual, cosmological, and historical basis for identity. Land theft, forced migration, and economic and spiritual displacement have been systematically utilized to strip identity and cohesion from Native people, a project that continues today. The use of these strategies has not been limited to Native communities; rather, they have been utilized extensively against poor people, Japanese-Americans, persons of Hispanic descent, and innumerable Afro-American communities as well.
The history of European expansion through, and control of, North America is one of greed, loss, and grief. As we witness the continued devastation of marginalized communities, species, and ecosystems we cannot help but notice the growing loneliness, grief, rage, and fear for the future that entwine themselves in our lives. How could we not feel this as the rapidly diminishing songs of birds, insects, and amphibians threaten to become a global silent spring, and our lives are stripped of connection to our evolutionary birthright of connection to one another and the non-human world?