This past weekend, Maryland birders were delighted to see a male painted bunting in their home state. They were especially thrilled because, according to an article in The Washington Post, this beauty, “known for its kaleidoscope of colors,” is typically seen only in Florida and elsewhere in the south. As has been true wherever humans benefit from plundering Mother Nature, we enjoy the gifts she gives us at her — and at our own — expense: “[T]he painted bunting is one of several species included in a recently published study from the National Audubon Society demonstrating that climate change is causing a shift in birds’ ranges during winter and breeding seasons.”
At 6 pm on election night I sat down to watch the results on MSNBC, and at 8 am the following morning I was still glued to my seat. Throughout the night I was at times filled with despair about the real possibility that Donald Trump would be re-elected and that the Senate would remain under the demonic control of Mitch McConnell. But now that it is two days later, that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris seem poised to win, and that the Senate may well see a Democratic majority before all is said and done, I am feeling less hopeless.
Increasingly, though, I am questioning why, even if Biden wins and the Senate reverts to Democratic control (after two pivotal run-off elections in Georgia), I would want to continue living in a country where almost half of its inhabitants are racist, anti-Semitic, white nationalists who believe any lies Trump tells them and who live in a reality I simply cannot begin to fathom. So, my daughter and I have been talking about leaving the United States. Here are several countries we are thinking about: England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain (and then a few outliers like Greece, the Netherlands, and New Zealand). Of course, getting jobs will be crucial for the both of us, so much depends on our ability to secure work for ourselves before we pack our bags and go.
The great thing is not having a mind. Feelings: oh, I have those; they govern me. I have a lord in heaven called the sun, and open for him, showing him the fire of my own heart, fire like his presence. What could such glory be if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters, were you like me once, long ago, before you were human? Did you permit yourselves to open once, who would never open again? Because in truth I am speaking now the way you do. I speak because I am shattered. Photo credit
On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree
not for the fruit
the tree that bears the fruit
is not the one that was planted
I want the tree that stands
in the earth for the first time
with the sun already
and the water
touching its roots
in the earth full of the dead
and the clouds passing
one by one
over its leaves
I know I am not alone when I say that I have been anxious about voting, not least because Trump and his cronies have been trying to suppress the vote any way they can. In Virginia, for example, those of us who opted to vote by mail received our ballots last week with instructions telling us we need to complete the forms in front of a witness. This unnecessary step annoyed me, but it annoyed me even more to find out later that we did not need a witness and that this directive was supposedly sent in error. In order to feel confident that my vote would be counted, then, I realized I would need to go to the Office of Voter Registration and Elections in the city where I live and vote in person. Once there, I was relieved to see that things were well orchestrated: I “surrendered” my mail-in ballot and was directed to get a regular paper ballot instead, which I filled out and fed into a scanner. Altogether, it took about ten minutes for me to complete the process.