Archive for the ‘Celebrating our beautiful Earth’ Category

You Are Still Amazing

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

turned tree photo 

   On a recent morning, my forest wanderings drew me to look at a downed tree.  This mighty chestnut oak, who once soared high above the earth, has lain on the forest floor now for quite some time.

    I have seen this dead tree many times.  But this day it was a marvel.  Some fierce wind had once pushed it so hard that its giant root base was ripped right from the earth.  Standing near the broad, tangled, sandy mass of roots, I looked out over the trunk’s length.  On and on it snaked along the ground.  Walking its length was a journey of more than 30 steps.

     Imagine being this tall, thrusting so far away from the ground.  As I bent down and felt the furrowed bark along the tapering trunk, I thought how seldom I am this close to the top of a giant tree.  Typically, I can observe a tree’s top only from far below.  Those top branches are so far away.  And here is the top of the tree, right beside me, so close, resting on the ground. 

      I love the chestnut oaks that dominate the forest near our house, whether standing and flourishing in leafy extravagance, or lying dead on the ground.  Even this tree, the flow of life through its trunk stilled, feeds my spirit.–April Moore

An Ode to Dead Leaves

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

IMG_1110

 

Dry brown leaves
Resting on the forest floor,
Brittle,  thin, lifeless.
Their work is done.

Once they were young,
Fresh, supple, and oh so green,
Open to the sun’s rays
And carrying that sunshine
Straight into the tree,
Bringing the tree exactly what it needs
To live and grow.

And once a leaf’s work is complete,
Its life drains away
And the leaf lets go.
Sever
ed from the tree from which it came,
The
 tree the leaf fed for many months.

Now the leaf lies shriveled and curled,
Lying among its fellows
On the forest floor.

Yet even in death, the leaf gives life,
Each dead leaf returns to the soil,
To support and feed a new tree,
This time from below.-
-April Moore

 

 

 

 

 

The Earth Connection is Back!

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Greetings, all of you who love our marvelous and endangered planet!

     After a very long ‘silence,’ I have decided to revive THE EARTH CONNECTION.  The last time I posted here was February 2015.  That was when I told readers I was suspending my postings in order to devote myself fully to a run for the Virginia state senate.

     I didn’t win.  Nonetheless, I feel very good about the run I made.  I became a candidate because of my passion about climate change and my desire to find a much bigger platform to sound the alarm in defense of our Mother Earth.  The campaign gave me a marvelous opportunity to do just that.  I made the most of it.   And thanks to messaging help from my husband Andy Schmookler, my message got out there widely and boldly.

     Even though the election was last November, it has taken me this long to be ready to put significant energy into a solitary, creative space like THE EARTH CONNECTION.  Instead, I have been continuing to work, as a board member, with two organizations dedicated, in different ways, to protecting the planet–the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

     And now I want to resume publishing THE EARTH CONNECTION.

     I plan to post at least once a month.  I hope you will continue to follow my blog.  And please spread the word if you like what you see here.  Remember, it is free to subscribe to THE EARTH CONNECTION.  By subscribing, you will receive an email to alert you every time there is a new  EARTH CONNECTION posting.  And, of course I do not share THE EARTH CONNECTION’s subscriber list with anyone.

     And one more thing–I am always open to posting other people’s work–poems, photos, narratives, etc.  Thanks!–April Moore

 

 

Some Big News–Part II

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

My husband Andy, our friend Laura, and I were talking over lunch recently about how I might reach more people with my climate message.  (See Some Big News–Part I)

Andy, who is remarkably creative and a great strategic thinker, came up with the idea that there was a platform right here in Virginia’s political arena, available to me.   Andy saw a perfect intersection between climate change and the high degree of corruption in our Virginia government.  Even people who are not receptive to my climate message most likely don’t want a state government that regularly sacrifices the public good to wealthy special interests.

When our current state senator Mark Obenshain, a powerful, well-funded, savvy politician, acts to impede responsible action on climate, that’s just part of a much larger picture of the corruption of our legislature by big money.  The General Assembly’s deplorable refusal to address the climate crisis takes us directly into the deep sickness in Virginia politics today.  Obenshain, who came close to winning statewide office two years ago, and many of his fellow legislators, are serving as lackeys for big corporate interests.  

For example, the General Assembly just passed a bill to exempt the utility Dominion Power from state oversight for five years.  Obenshain supported the legislation (written by Dominion itself) that will increase the monopoly’s profits, at the cost of higher utility bills for more than two million households (including tens of thousands of customers here in the district Obenshain is supposed to represent). 

Related to the grip big money holds over the General Assembly is the refusal by Obenshain and many of his colleagues to enact meaningful ethics reform.  In the wake of an ethics scandal that resulted in former Governor McDonnell being sentenced to prison, Obenshain and others succeeded in blocking real reform.  Instead, the legislature passed a toothless gesture that changes little.

And ethics reform is sorely needed!  The nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity (CPI) ranks Virginia 47th among the 50 states when it comes to government integrity.  Further, Virginia earns an F on the corruption risk report card CPI issues for each state.

These terrible ethics scores are unacceptable to me, and I imagine, to a great many other Virginians, liberal and conservative alike.  Mark Obenshain is on the wrong side of the ethics issue, and a vigorous truth-telling campaign against him might get even good conservatives who have supported him in the past to see that.  

Fighting for a General Assembly that serves the people, rather than big corporate interests, is an essential part of fighting for an effective response to the climate crisis here in Virginia.  We can’t let Obenshain and his ilk sacrifice our grandchildren for the short-term profits of a giant monopoly utility.

And so, on March 17, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, I will officially announce my campaign against Mark Obenshain to represent this district in the Virginia state senate.  So my work as a climate warrior is taking a new and unexpected turn.

And now I have a special additional reason to move outside my comfort zone for this mission.  More on that in the next installment!–April Moore

 

Some Big News–Part I

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

I didn ‘t see this coming.  As recently as two weeks ago this big decision wasn’t even on my radar.  But because of an unexpected turn in the trail, I find myself taking a leap that I hadn’t anticipated or planned.  

If you are a regular visitor to this site, you likely know how determined I have been for quite awhile in my efforts to address climate change.  I love this planet.  I love the living earth. That’s what this website–The Earth Connection.org–is all about.  And it pains me deeply to contemplate what we’re doing to this marvelous planet and to the well-being of life on earth. 

Because of my grief, anger, and fear about the planet we are likely leaving to my two dear granddaughters and to all young people, I have made myself a ‘climate warrior.’  I’ve made several January plunges into the Potomac River to raise money for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), an organization Bill McKibben describes as “the most effective regional climate organization in the entire world!”  I am honored to now be a member of  CCAN’s board.  I have also been going around, every chance I get, talking to various groups about the climate crisis.  Reactions are often quite chilly–stony faces, arms crossed tightly across chests.  The only audience in which most react with the concern and commitment I want to see are high school students in a gifted and talented program.  But these speaking opportunities have been few and far between.  And turnout is often trivial, making the energy and effort I expend far out of proportion.

On one such day, Monday, February 9, after I spoke to a group of just eight elderly ladies, I had lunch with my husband Andy and my friend Laura.  In our conversation, a question arose–how could I get bigger audiences for my talks?

That question precipitated a quite unexpected, creative breakthrough and life decision.  Stay tuned for the ‘rest of the story!’– April Moore  

Wintertime Observations

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

woods_in_winter

Starting in June of 2013, I spent a year making weekly visits to the same little spot in the forest on the side of the ridge where I live in the Shenandoah Valley.  During each visit I jotted my observations in a little book.  It was a fascinating experience to notice the changes in one small patch of forest over the cycle of four seasons.

Here, at THE EARTH CONNECTION, I have been, from time to time, sharing some of those observations.  Below are some of my jottings from the months of January and February of last year:

  • The ground is covered in snow.  And with the leaning tree trunk that always marked the spot now fallen, I have to do some searching to find my ‘spot.’  I notice quite a few footprints.  Clearly, animals have been making their way across my spot.
  • Crows call in the distance.  I hear the wind blowing in the treetops, high overhead, but all is quiet on the ground, where I sit on a log.
  • Subdued winter beauty in all directions.  The snow-covered ground is punctuated with brown twigs poking through the whiteness, angling every which way.  To see some green, I must raise my head and look high into the tops of the giant White Pines.
  • The air is still, except for a woodpecker, hard at work in the distance.
  • The forest is mainly brown now, except for a stripe of snow here and there, hidden from the sun in the curve of a log or the lee of a stump.
  • The wind picks up.  Downed, dead leaves whisper among themselves as they whirl about, disturbed by the wind.  I hear from down the hill a tree creaking under the wind’s push.
  • Now, toward the end of February, bits of color are starting to emerge.  The tiny, outermost twigs growing from the thin, woody plants in my spot are red!  Just a few of them!  They are even tipped with tiny red buds.  Spring can’t be far off!–April Moore      

 

 

 

Crazy for Our Climate

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
photo by Ira Shorr

photo by Ira Shorr

 

This is the fourth January that I am doing something crazy.  On Saturday, just three days from now, I will walk out into the Potomac River, wearing only a bathing suit!  Oh yes, and also a fleecy headband to give me the illusion of warmth!

Actually, I’m plunging into the river not because I’m crazy but because I’m passionate.  I’m passionate about the urgent need to address our climate crisis.  And I will not be alone:  I’ll be plunging with more than 100 people, all who feel strongly about protecting the climate.

This Saturday’s Polar Bear Plunge, at National Harbor, near Washington, D.C., is the annual fundraising event for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN).  CCAN works throughout the mid-Atlantic region to enact policies that increase the use of clean, alternative energies, phase out our dependence on fossil fuels, and put us on a path to a stable, healthy climate.  And CCAN is a first rate outfit!  International climate leader Bill McKibben has called CCAN “the most effective regional climate organization in the entire world!”  

So spending a few minutes in frigid water is a small price to pay for a strong, well-funded CCAN.  We Plungers  are raising money for CCAN by inviting our friends and family to sponsor our plunge by making a donation to CCAN.  This Saturday’s event will be CCAN’s 10th annual Polar Bear Plunge, and organizers hope it will raise $100,000.

I think CCAN’s Polar Bear Plunge is a brilliant fundraiser.  Many people, when they see that their friends are willing to make a sacrifice for something important, feel moved to make a financial sacrifice of their own for the same worthy cause.  And dramatic acts, like more than 100 people jumping into a frigid river in the middle of winter, attract attention.  So this event, coupled with a media campaign, can help publicize CCAN’s needed work.   

And the Plunge is quite an event!  It always begins with a boisterous rally, which fortifies us Plungers for the   uncomfortable minutes ahead.  Every time I have taken the Plunge, my friend Diane has accompanied me, encouraging me and greeting me with a towel when I return, shivering, from the river.

I have seen Plungers as young as 10 and as old as 80-something.  In fact, one year an old woman relied on her cane to stay upright as she carefully made her way out into the river!  Last year it was so cold that the Plunge organizers had to hack up river ice so that we Plungers could get into the water!  

As a Plunger, I’m afraid I’m not like the young men who energetically dive into the water head first, and then splash wildly as if it were a hot summer day.  Instead, I approach the water as the fairly timid 60+ woman I am.  I  take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other as I move from the water’s edge out into deeper water.  

It has  surprised me how quickly my feet lose all feeling.  Then my calves.  Then my thighs.  Last year I had planned to go out up to my neck, but because of my fear of falling and being too numb to get myself out, I turned back when the water was just above my waist.  (My friend Kathy playfully demanded half her money back because I didn’t completely immerse myself!)  But I needn’t have been concerned.  A first aid team is at the ready, perched in a boat nearby. 

The best part of all, though, is the joyous celebration after the Plunge, when Plungers and supporters all gather at the nearby restaurant.  It feels great to sit inside where it’s warm and visit with my friends who have shown up to support me, and to know that the next Plunge is a whole year away.

By the way, I have set an ambitious personal fundraising goal for this year’s Polar Bear Plunge, $4,000.  If you would like to support my Plunge with a donation to CCAN (we know that constructive climate work anywhere in the world benefits all of us no matter where we live) I would, of course, be grateful.  You can click this link to my personal fundraising page, where you can quickly and easily donate online.  April Moore’s Plunge  

I’ll report back next week.–April Moore

 

 

So What Is Plan B?

Sunday, January 11th, 2015
A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to speak about the climate crisis to a group of bright high school seniors.  I love speaking to these Virginia Regional Governor’s School students;  they are intelligent and interested.
     And instead of feeling crushed by the weight of my message, these students respond with hope and with the confidence that they have what it takes to deal successfully with the problem.
     But two months after my last gig with these high school seniors, I find still echoing in my mind a question that one young man asked that day.  We had spent at least an hour in engrossing discussion about what must be done if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe, the roles for nations, localities, institutions, and citizens.
     After all of this, the young man, groping for words, asked haltingly, “Well, what if we don’t do all the things we need to do?  What if we can’t manage to do it?  What do we do then?  What is the. . . . plan?”
     I could have wept on the spot.
     I saw a 17-year old who had not yet grasped that the grown-ups he’d always trusted to be in charge could completely let him down.  He just assumed that the generations running things were making at least the minimum necessary arrangements to ensure that the future would be okay for him and his generation.  Surely there must be some ‘Plan B.’
     The people in charge could not just sit back and expose us to catastrophe.  Could they?
     I was so struck by the young man’s question, I really don’t remember how I answered.  I wanted to be truthful, but I didn’t want to puncture his sense of security, his faith in those in charge.  As a mom, perhaps, I didn’t want him to be afraid.
     As I have continued to think about this student’s question, I see that he was really speaking for all of us.  Even among those who ‘get’ the seriousness of our climate crisis, most don’t really get how very bad life could get for the generations to come.  For one thing, we have never experienced anything like what might well lie ahead if we fail to act decisively.
     In addition to a natural reluctance to envision how bad life could become, there is the deliberate misinformation campaign on the part of the fossil fuel industry, whose wealth has induced one of our two major  political parties to make it party dogma that the science on climate is to be ignored.  The fossil fuel industry, through its political lackeys, lulls us into inaction with its deceptive message that climate science is a hoax, that we should stay addicted to fossil fuels.
     I wonder what the people who are running this misinformation campaign would say to their own children if they came to them and asked, “What’s the plan?”–April Moore

Christmas Trees–from a Different Perspective

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Below is Robert Frost’s poem Christmas Trees.  

I like the way Frost defends the fir trees growing on his land, refusing to sell them for a pittance.  Frost’s words paint a beautiful picture of “my woods–the young fir balsams like a place where houses all are churches and have spires.”  Frost beautifully describes a December day at his place in Vermont, “where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.” 

In reading a little about  this poem, I learned something interesting.  For nearly 30 years, Frost worked with a printer, Joe Blumenthal, to produce finely-printed Christmas cards that beautifully and delicately illustrated Frost’s poetry.  Each year, the poet selected a different poem for that year’s  card.  Sent to Frost’s friends, the cards have been described as “probably the most ornate and unique Christmas cards they ever received.”–April Moore 

frost_cards 

Christmas Trees
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Robert Frost (1920)
clr gif

(A Christmas Circular Letter)
The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

Trading Places

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

solar-germany-flag

When I was a kid, growing up in the 1950s, I thought of Germany as a Very Bad Country.  After all, the Germans had started not just one, but two World Wars.  And the Holocaust that they created was horrific beyond belief.

 In contrast, the United States was truly a great country.  We played a major role in ensuring that Hitler did not ultimately succeed in taking over Europe.  And thanks to our Marshall Plan, we rebuilt Europe and helped restore peace and prosperity to that wartorn continent.  I was proud to be an American, and I had good reason to be.

But things are different now. 

When it comes to adequately addressing the climate crisis–the very most important task faced by the world’s governments today–it seems the United States and Germany have traded places.  

Now Germany is in the hero’s role.  More than any other country, Germany has embraced renewable energy sources and reduced its dependence on fossil fuels.  In fact, 37% of Germany’s daily electricity needs are now met by solar and wind power.  And Germany is on track to meet 100% of its energy needs from renewables by 2050!

I wish I could claim that the United States is also a leader in addressing the climate crisis.  My country, formerly an inspiration to the world for what is right and just, is doing next to nothing to ensure a livable world for our children and grandchildren.  In fact, the United States, the country most responsible for the accumulated carbon dioxide pollution in our atmosphere,  just elected a Congress in which both houses are led by people who deny well-established climate science.  

At just the time when we desperately need bold and committed action to bring down our greenhouse gas emissions, many of our national leaders are firmly in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry, working to make sure that nothing gets in the way of huge profits for the wealthiest industry the world has ever seen.

And President Obama, who as a candidate in 2008, admitted the seriousness of the climate crisis, in fact did next to nothing about it during his first term.  Obama has recently begun to take meaningful steps, like his meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, in which both leaders pledged significant action on the climate.  While I applaud this action, it is actually very little, very late, when the window we have available to avert the worst global warming impacts is rapidly closing.

Tragically, the United States has abdicated its former leadership role among the world’s countries.  Currently contributing about a quarter of the world’s daily greenhouse emissions, we are the greatest impediment to warding off  catastrophe.

We should learn from and emulate the actions of our former enemy.–April Moore

 

 

 

 

 

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