“When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” Reconsidered

My first thought when reading what I wrote more than three years ago about Milton’s “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” is that, wow, I used to write long, convoluted sentences. Maybe I was trying too hard to be complex. Since then I’ve come to think that the beauty in any form of communication is its simplicity—its elegance.

But w/r/t the poem, it remains one of my favorites, so I’m glad it was the first one I included in my list (which isn’t final, but isn’t exactly running these days, either). There is also a place for those who stand and wait. Patience is a strange idea for environmentalists; we embed value in geologic time but also constantly attempt to combat apathy, the dirtiest of words.

Of course, the real enemy is the notion that there’s nothing we can do. I think such an enemy is insurmountable because it’s supported by overwhelming evidence.


Mid-October Update


Finally, a sweet pepper! Let’s see if it gets big enough to eat. The temperature swings as of late (90s in the day, 60s at night) have probably confused many of the older plants, while the younger ones (spinach, pumpkin, lettuce, et al.) are happy just to be getting daylight and water.


Here I was, worried about massive die-offs, but apparently bees* are doing just fine.

Yet, according to this report (linked in the above article):

We use a spatial habitat model, national land-cover data, and carefully quantified expert knowledge to estimate wild bee abundance and associated uncertainty. Between 2008 and 2013, modeled bee abundance declined across 23% of US land area. This decline was generally associated with conversion of natural habitats to row crops. We identify 139 counties where low bee abundances correspond to large areas of pollinator-dependent crops. These areas of mismatch between supply (wild bee abundance) and demand (cultivated area) for pollination comprise 39% of the pollinator-dependent crop area in the United States. Further, we find that the crops most highly dependent on pollinators tend to experience more severe mismatches between declining supply and increasing demand. These trends, should they continue, may increase costs for US farmers and may even destabilize crop production over time.

Whew, that’s a relief.

*Domesticated, American honeybees

In Retrospect: Thoughts on a Thunderstorm

Three years ago I wrote this about getting caught in a massive thunderstorm while camping:

This alien jellyfish in the sky, with tentacles of white light, crawled through the sky in the distance, and above it, set against a bowl of almost complete darkness, I watched Ursa Minor, the little bear, arc upwards and into clear view. I thought about the universe expanding and contracting and expanding again ad infinitum, and felt as one always does when laying on one’s back in the grass in the middle of the night: reverent.

And then it came: after all had gone to sleep—or at least had turned the flashlights out in their tents—first lightning, and then gusts of wind, and then rain, and more rain, and even more rain, and suddenly the pulsating monster I had watched a few hours earlier from a safe distance, the jellyfish with light-tentacles, was upon us.

My writing was much more colorful then; now, I just try as quickly as possible to get to the point. And I haven’t been caught in any thunderstorms since, but I have slept outside, with no cover, for seemingly never-ending nights, when every rustled leaf or cracked twig sends the imagination into horrifying whirlwinds in the darkness. We can create any new technology we want, but the night’s strangeness is still—and always will be—equally scary.