Archive for July, 2012

Ode to the Tomato

Friday, July 27th, 2012
one of the tomato plants on our deck

one of the tomato plants on our deck

As I am enjoying the bright red, delicious tomatoes we’re growing on our deck, I think of Pablo Neruda’s wonderful Ode to the Tomato. Enjoy.–April Moore

ODE TO THE TOMATO
—-Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes,
midday,
summer,
light is
halved
like
a
tomato,
its juice
runs
through the streets.
In December,
unabated,
the tomato
invades
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
takes
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
sinks
into living flesh,
red
viscera
a cool
sun,
profound,
inexhaustible,
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
we
pour
oil,
essential
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
pepper
adds
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
parsley
hoists
its flag,
potatoes
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
knocks
at the door,
it’s time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile
star,
displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.


Those Hummingbirds!

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

hummingbird

As I sit here in our bedroom, with the laptop on–the usual place–my lap, I am completely distracted by an avian drama unfolding just a few yards away, outside the sliding glass door that opens onto the balcony.

The hummingbird feeder hanging next to the doorway is the place, hummingbirds agree!  Five or six of the little guys  are darting about, up and down, all around, perching on nearby branches between feedings.  Somehow, these little guys caught on, within minutes of my filling the feeder, that this is the spot for tasty nectar.

How can I not set aside what I’d intended to write, with so much buzzing going on? The dainty look and diminutive size of these little creatures is belied by the loud, bee-like buzzing  their wings make when the birds are in motion.  In fact, they sound like warlike little commandos as they dart about.

The buzzing sharpens with hostility as one of the tiny warriors chases another hummingbird away from the feeder.  Clearly, ‘share and share alike’ is not the hummingbird’s mantra.  Instead, these tiny birds seem to embody an ethic of ‘look out for number one.’  Even though the feeder is equipped with 10 feeding holes, a hummer who has the feeder to itself for a time will almost always chase off an approaching fellow hummer than tolerate its presence at one of the other nine holes!  Only occasionally do I see two birds drinking from the feeder at the same time.  And it’s usually not long before one of them decides to chase the other off.

In fact, hummingbirds spend so much time running off their fellows, darting this way and that, and hovering above, below, and beside the feeder, I’m surprised they don’t use up more energy in all that movement than they take in at the feeder!

In the last few minutes, as I’ve been writing, it has begun to rain, and there was just a loud clap of thunder.  Suddenly, the buzzing has stopped, and I see no hummingbirds.  Where did they go, I wonder.  Did they find their way to their usual nighttime retreat?  Or are they huddled, unseen, on some branch nearby or under some leaves?

In any event, I must remember to refill the feeder so that tomorrow I can enjoy the same distraction from my work!–April Moore

A Major Victory for the Leatherback Sea Turtle

Friday, July 13th, 2012

baby-leatherback-2

One of the planet’s most important nesting sites for the endangered leatherback sea turtle has just been protected!

Puerto Rico’s Governor Luis Fortuno recently signed into law a measure that will protect almost 2,000 acres of the island’s coast from large-scale development.  The protected area, part of an area known as the Northeast Ecological Corridor, has been designated a nature reserve.

The Northeast Ecological Corridor includes such diverse landscapes as a bioluminescent lagoon, mangrove swamps, coral reefs, and dense tropical rainforest.  Besides the leatherback sea turtles, many other threatened or endangered species also make their homes in the corridor.  The West Indian manatee, the hawksbill sea turtle, and the snowy plover are just a few.

This new protection has been a long time coming.  In 2009, Governor Fortuno overturned his predecessor’s decision to protect the Northeast Ecological Corridor.  Fortuno wanted, instead, to open the land to large developers and their plans for mega-resorts and golf courses in the now-protected area.

But the Sierra Club, other environmental organizations, and Puerto Rican citizens said no.  Activists circulated petitions calling on Fortuno to protect the Northeast Ecological Corridor from development.  And both houses of Puerto Rico’s legislature voted unanimously to protect the leatherback sea turtle’s nesting grounds.  Ultimately, Fortuno had little choice but to go along with the people.

There has been even more good news for leatherback sea turtles in 2012.  In January, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration designated 42,000 square miles of ocean along the U.S. west coast as critical habitat for the Pacific leatherback sea turtle.

These protective designations are so needed!  The worldwide population of these giant reptiles has declined 95% since the 1980s, thanks to the destruction of natural habitat, changing ocean conditions, commercial fishing, and the theft of eggs.

A few facts about the leatherback sea turtle:

  • It is the largest reptile in the world, and an individual can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds.
  • The leatherback’s lifespan is not known, but scientists believe it lives at least 40 years and maybe as long as 100 years.
  • Scientists believe the leatherback reaches sexual maturity at about 16 years.
  • In the U.S., the leatherback nests on the beach from March to July.  A single female may produce several clutches of eggs in a season.
  • Once hatched, baby leatherbacks make their way to the ocean.–April Moore



A Declaration of Dependence

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

I find that this, our nation’s Independence Day, is a fine time to remind ourselves of how dependent we actually are, in the big picture.–April Moore

DECLARATION OF DEPENDENCE: A DECLARATION FOR HUMAN SURVIVAL

When, in the course of human events, it becomes apparent that the
activities of humankind are causing severe and potentially catastrophic
injury to the land, air and water that compose our home – the Earth -
it becomes necessary to declare humanity’s innate Dependence on the
Earth, and demand that governments take immediate action to redress
such harmful acts and make elemental changes to prevent further injury
to the Earth. Such declaration requires the causes that impel such
demands be set forth.

I hold these truths to be self-evident: that all humans are created
equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable
rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of
Happiness; that humans are but one life-form amidst the chaotic
perfection weaving the web of life that exists on Earth; that should
human activity damage the web, life, as it is now known, will cease to
exist; that time is of the essence. That to safeguard these rights and
ensure the continuity of Homo sapiens as a viable species, Governments
are instituted among People, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed. – That when world business practices coalesce
with the laws of governments to harm life on Earth, it is the right of
people to bring an end to such injurious practices and ineffectual
laws, and enact new laws; laws that root their foundations in
principles that will secure the continued vigor of the web of life, and
provide for the prolonged existence and welfare of humanity.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that laws long established should not be changed
for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath
shown that people are more disposed to suffer, while evils are
sufferable, than to right themselves by modifying the forms to which
they are accustomed. But when a long train of environmental abuses,
pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to overwhelm life
on Earth; it is their right, it is their duty, to alter such design and
demand new laws to protect the web of life, thus securing sanctuary for
the human race. Such has been the patient sufferance of humans, and
such is now the necessity, which compels them to demand fundamental
changes to laws not suited to safeguard the environment. -

The history of humanity’s relationship with the Earth is a history of greed and
power to take from nature without recompense, all having in direct
object the establishment of monetary wealth with little, if any, regard
for the sacredness of life on Earth.

The world’s current and growing population of nearly 6,500,000,000
humans transcends the Earth’s capacity to absorb our consumptive and
polluting behaviors. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid
world:

I. We are fouling the skies with greenhouse gases that have altered the
Earth’s atmosphere, initiating global warming. Such warming is causing
planetary climatic change that endangers all life forms.

II. We are polluting the air, water and land in, and around, towns and
cities of the world so that the health of humans, flora and fauna is
imperiled on a global scale.

III. We are diverting, depleting and polluting the Earth’s fresh water
resources so that humans are oft unable to find clean water and, in
many locales, water borne flora and fauna struggle to survive.

IV. We are overfishing and polluting the Earth’s oceans, seas, lakes
and rivers so that survival of a growing number of aquatic species is
threatened.

V. We are endangering and causing the extinction of a wide variety of
the Earth’s plant and animal species by disrupting, polluting and
destroying their habitats.

VI. We are contaminating the Earth’s productive soils with fertilizers,
herbicides and pesticides; modifying natural crop species via genetic
engineering; and paving over and building upon untold acres of fertile
land. Taken together, these practices jeopardize the Earth’s
agricultural bounty.

VII. We are cutting vast tracts of the Earth’s natural forests
resulting in denuded hillsides that erode in rain showers and, in
countless locations, no longer sustain trees that recycle carbon
dioxide into oxygen.

VIII. We are mining immense amounts of the Earth’s rich ores and minerals causing pollution to land, air and water.

In summary, we are taking freely from the Earth, irresponsibly using
her natural resources with a wanton disregard of the future. We now
live in fear of our own unyielding needs and desires, which gravely
injure life on Earth and threaten our ongoing survival.

In every stage of human activity causing harm to the web of life,
citizens have petitioned courts for Redress in the most humble terms.
These incessant petitions have been met by new and ever-increasing
injury to the Earth. Thus, the laws involved are tainted by every act
that despoils the environment and are unfit to shield the Earth from
harm.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our governments. We have
relentlessly warned them of the daily injuries inflicted upon the Earth
and the far-reaching consequences thereof. We have reminded them of our
inherent connection to the Earth for everything we have from air,
water, food, clothing and shelter to cell phones, palm pilots,
computers, automobiles and atom bombs. We have drawn their attention to
our birthright on Earth, and appealed to their intrinsic bonds with
nature and religion. They too have been deaf to the voices of reason
and action. Hence, I must acquiesce in the necessity, which demands
immediate attention to humanity’s peril on Earth and hold them, as I
hold myself and present-day civilization, Enemies to our continued
existence.

I, therefore, a human on Earth, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the
Universe for the rectitude of my intentions, do, in the Name, and by
the Authority of the good people of the world, solemnly publish and
declare: that humans are dependent on the Earth for our survival; that
the Earth is in imminent danger of irreparable injury to her life
supporting functions; that we have found these functions unique to the
Earth in our exploration of the near bounds of space; that now is the
time to act firmly, with resolute conviction, to save our home the
Earth. And for support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the
protection of divine Providence, I pledge my life, worldly goods and
sacred honor.

With the Earth enduring ever-increasing environmental harm each ensuing
day, is it not time for such a declaration?

Together, we can save the
Earth.

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