Monthly Archives: March 2021

Learning to walk in the woods

So, file this under “Living here for most of the past 10 years and still get to see something new!” On my trail walk a couple days ago I had my first extended viewing of an owl. I’ve caught sight of them several times while walking but usually it’s when they leave one tree and fly to another and are then out of sight. But on this particular walk I saw one fly and it landed in a tree further down in the direction I was headed. I kept an eye on it and found it in the tree as I got closer. I was able to look for a full minute or so. I could have stayed longer as it didn’t fly away but it was up high enough that I couldn’t see details without binoculars. But still, had a good look. My immediate thoughts were that I need to remember to look up more often rather than my usual focus on the path in front of me.

Yesterday while walking after a lot of rain I was stopping often to photograph and video the streams and little water falls. It got me into a more observational mode. While I had to watch the path for slippery spots I was walking more slowly and just generally being in a more observational mode rather than walking for exercise mode. I stopped and just stood still looking off through the woods. With the trees and lower level foliage still bare it’s possible to see a much longer distance. Within just a minute of stopping and looking deeper into the woods, at about the limit of my eyesight, I caught sight of a fox. I should note that I’m not 100% certain given the distance but given the size, shape and movement of the animal I’m fairly certain it was a fox. It was only a glimpse but still, exciting!

Again, I was reminded what a poor observer I often am. My habit when walking is to be walking. Even if I do rememer to look up I’m usually still moving. So, another lesson learned is that not only do I need to look up more often but that I need to stop and stand still more often. I think that act, of being still for at least a few minutes is what will really allow for much deeper observation of the landscape and what is happening around me. Not only that but were I to carry a small sitting stool or be willing to stop and sit on the ground for say, ten or twenty minutes, that extended stillness would also allow for my becoming less visible to other animals, notably those I rarely see such as fox.

Really it’s an obvious thing I’m stating here but I suspect it’s also something others might forget to do while in the woods. It’s an easy thing to forget to do, especially when provided nice walking paths, to just stop and hold. Also, I’ll note that when I go for walks it is for the purpose of exercise. To walk for observation is a different thing and I’ll need to remember that and find a balance between the two.

Spring is here and all around green buds are popping. In the next few weeks the open understory of the woods will fill with foliage and the long view I’m enjoying now will shrink to a much smaller distance. I plan to practice a more active observation with more frequent stopping and suspect that will be beneficial but it will likely be in the winter months that such a practice will really prove helpful both in terms of wildlife observation as well as developing a better understanding of the topography of the land.

How we move forward

My group of local friends share a Slack group. This morning one of them asked:

(What the is the matter with the @$&-“.! Democrats)

No doubt a response to the recent maneuverings in regards to legislation for Covid relief and raising the minimum wage.

Here’s the response I posted and upon posting decided it should be a blog post here.

Oh, I’d say nothing is the matter. They seem to be doing EXACTLY what they always do. There’s absolutely nothing out of the norm with this.

This is who they are. On the whole are just a slightly less fucked up version of the Republicans. Add to that the politics of getting reelected, blah, blah, blah and all the other garbage of this filthy fucked up system and this is exactly what we have had for decades.

While the Trumper folks are unhinged and racist and seeping in conspiracy, the anger and rage and frustration seems to be a fairly common trait amongst much of the population… hence Occupy Wall Street. The 99% – which is why the whole system really does need to be uprooted

All we’ve accomplished is temporary removal of an idiot, arrogant, fascist wannabe dictator.

The dysfunction of the 2 party system is still in place. It will function well enough for the 1% as it has for decades. And that’s all that matters.

I’d guess that the democrats will remain split, progressives and establishment… they’ll fumble around for 2 years then 2 more years. Meanwhile, the republicans will do what they can to suppress the vote in future elections. It’s a clusterfuck that won’t end until the polite liberals of the U.S., step out of their apathy and get a bit angrier, more agitated and more willing to engage. That said, seeing the lunacy of the angry right, I don’t know what an energized liberal population would really look like. How would it, could it, actually engaged with the “other half” of the 99%?

It would seem to me that the way forward, if there is a way, is to chart some new social territory.

Which is to say, the structure has to be rebuilt. And, which is to ask, are the people that would need to work together to do this capable of doing it? Can common ground be found and trust established so that the 99% can figure out a way forward? Personally, trying to not veer into pessimism but to remain honest, and I don’t know what it would take in this current culture for people to begin that move. Is it possible for us to just be neighbors, to view one another as people and step past the labels, emotions, distrust, fear, etc?

Which brings me to the way forward. I’ve spent the past couple weeks dwelling again in thoughts of Social Ecology and Murray Bookchin’s ideas for how humans might organize society more democratically, more rationally. In short, building local, community based democracy as the foundation and working up from there. It would mean turning everything we know about government and economy on it’s head.

So, what’s possible? Is this kind of radical change possible in the U.S.? It’s interesting that we, as a nation, have become so pessimistic about the possibility of change. And yet, we can look elsewhere on the planet and see such examples. Most recently and very inspiring is Rojava. Why would this not be possible here? Of course it would be possible.

Thinking about what is possible or not possible. Somewhere along the way we, as a national culture, fell into a deep rut of pessimism. The idea that we might turn things on their head seems an impossibility! Why, why, we couldn’t do that! We just can’t! Direct, participatory democracy?? No, it’s simply not possible! We collectively seem to have lost (or given up) our ability, our will, to experiment, to problem solve and to really work towards solutions.