WE DO NOT KNOW THE FUTURE. We do not know when the next war will start. We do not know when the last glacier will melt. We do not know when the last coral reef will bleach. We do not know how much oil we might still burn. We do not know when the last Javan rhinoceros will die. We do not know how nation-states will cope with millions of climate refugees. We do not know what policies economic crisis will be used to justify. We do not know when the Amazonia will collapse. We do not know how many more concentration camps will be built. We do not know when the Colorado River will go dry. We do not know toward what insidious ends the righteous hate of the downtrodden will be turned. We do not know when the Arctic Ocean will be ice free. We do not know what politics looks like in a world of catastrophic ecological collapse. We do not know when the Gulf Stream will slow to a stop. We do not know what we are capable of getting used to.
It is thus that the novel takes its modern form, through “the relocation of the unheard-of toward the background…while the everyday moves into the foreground.” There is, however, an important difference between the weather events that we are now experiencing and those that occur in surrealist and magical realist novels: improbable though they might be, these events are neither surreal nor magical. To the contrary, these highly improbable occurrences are overwhelmingly, urgently, astoundingly real.
Amitav Ghosh The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable
In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.
the commons enclosed and the world a map
mastery, and possession
Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. Robin L. Chandler, 2021.
Many years ago, when we wanted to learn about jazz, our dear friend Peggy, a connoisseur of improvisational music, began our education with the 1961 album Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane. The album was recorded in 1957, when Monk and his quartet, featuring John Coltrane on tenor sax, were deep in their landmark six month residence at the Five Spot Café in New York’s East Village. To this day, over sixty years later, their grooves are rubies, my dear, gems I turn to when I need to bebop and blow the blues away.
After a year confined, while Shiva created and destroyed, the open road beckoned. The horizon open, the land infinite, and my mind seemed lotus-like, unbound. And Earth shared: sky, mountains, trees, deserts, meadows, and rivers. My soul replenished: hope glimmers.
Clockwise: Thunderstorm over Wheeler Peak, Taos, NM; waterfall at Whitney Portal, Lone Pine, CA; sentinel trees at Whitney Portal, Lone Pine, CA; monsoon over Mt. Langley, Lone Pine, CA; and the San Francisco Peaks from Bonita Meadow, Flagstaff, AZ. Watercolors by Robin L. Chandler, 2021.
in a year
Patiently we live stream, waiting for Wek’-Wek’ the last Peregrine chick to fledge from Sather Tower.
On nearby Evans Hall, his brothers Fauci and Kaknu, and his parents Annie and Grinnell encouraged the youngster to join them.
At last, “this bird has flown.”
So the story ends, and so it begins.
In this our lost year-of-Covid, Annie and Grinnell have raised two families and unknowingly shared their intimate life with a world of humans.
In darkest March 2020, these beloved Peregrines were a gift to the imagination when four walls defined our world. With joy we watched as Annie laid her eggs, the chicks hatched, devoted parents provided food for their brood, and Grinnell kept the chicks warm at night while Annie took her rest. And then with excitement, in May 2020, we watched as the brothers Sequoia and Redwood flapped their wings, caught the wind and soared for the first time. And a few days later, with her brother’s encouragement, Poppy joined them and was airborne. And all was delight.
Another year has passed, and another family raised and fledged. Annie and Grinnell we thank thee for showing us that dedication and devotion will guide us through the darkness. Until next year dear Peregrines, good hunting and fair winds.
the world awakes and a garden delights
beyond this green paradise
a forgotten man has died
sweet peas planted
a bittersweet goodbye
we knew not your story
we know only your farewell
humming truck tires on Highway One drowned by the Pacific
lanky Bishop Pines loom
headland prairies rise above the cold rough waters
cliffs glazed in reds and yellow ochre
clockwork of tides, migration of whales, and nesting of birds
sheltered by a windswept fir
nomadic narcissi bloom
winter tragedies fade
new beginnings found