Leave it to beavers

A beaver dam with forest behind it in Lake Waubeeka, Danbury, Connecticut by Betsey Crawford

North American history is beaver history. Before the European fur trade took hold in the 1600s, the entire continent was one mesh of wetlands after another thanks to at least 7.3 million years of landscape management by hundreds of millions of beavers.

Earth’s consummate water engineers, beavers had it all figured out. And we are now enlisting them to figure it out for us.

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The lost words

Close up of the elongated coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) acorn with shingled top by Betsey Crawford

In 2007 the Oxford Junior Dictionary removed the word acorn from its print edition. Also the words blackberry, otter, willow, bluebell, and newt. Fifty such ‘nature words’ were eliminated and replaced by words like broadband, MP3 player, and chatroom.

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Boundless possibility: the power of seamlessness

Out of seamlessness: 30 Dorados, the Tarantula Nebula. Photo from NASA

This constant bubbling of form and new realities is what cosmologist Brian Swimme calls seamlessness, one of his eleven powers of the universe that I have been exploring. Though I am doing it last, it was his first because everything arose out of seamlessness, “the ground of being, an empty fullness.” A realm of existence so seething with constant creativity that physicists call it spacetime foam, bubbling everywhere and forever. This, the foundation of the cosmos, is “pure generativity,” Brian says. “Not a thing, or place. It’s a power.” The act of becoming “is the nature of the universe.”

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Songlines 2022: surprised by joy

Tiny white flowers of rare Marin dwarf flax (hesperolinum congestum) on Ring Mountain, Tiburon, California. Photo by Betsey Crawford.

I didn’t come up with the title of this post until I had finished writing it. 2022 was, after all, a year of lurching geopolitical crises and brutal regressions. A year that often seemed like lunacy was triumphing. One calculated to produce nothing but the stress levels we all too often felt. But, when I finished describing my path through these months, I was struck by how joyful it also was. Even when I was responding to the anguish of two young men about the state of the world they are inheriting. 

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Standing on holy ground

Close up of bright white bush anemone and buds (Carpenteria californica) in a private garden in San Ramon, California. Photo by Betsey Crawford

Ever since I was introduced to Thomas Berry’s work in 2000, his thinking has informed and enriched my own beyond measure. Recently I was asked to contribute an essay for a book about him. I chose one of my favorite of his ideas: that we look not to ancient texts for revelation to fuel and refresh ourselves but to Earth herself.

“We need to go to the earth, as the source from whence we came, and ask for its guidance, for the earth carries the psychic structure as well as the physical form of every living being upon the planet.”

I spend a lot of time doing just that, so it was a perfect fit.

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Happy Halloween: entangled in webs

Mycelium fruit: orange western jack-o-lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olivescens) on Mount Burdell in Novato, California. Photo by Betsy Crawford

Because of its ubiquity, everywhere we go we are treading on an intelligent underground. Beings that can communicate, transport, find their way from one goal to another along the most efficient route. That can overcome problems. negotiate with other beings, sort through options. That know what is happening at the farthest reaches of their vast network. So far, how they do all of this  remains a mystery, as does so much nonhuman wisdom. 

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The depth of water: celebrating the Season of Creation

Raindrops on an upside down white poppy in a garden in California by Betsey Crawford

Our ancestors had it right: they worshipped water. And for this year’s Season of Creation I am joining them. I’m far from the only one. Indigenous peoples still revere water, as does the Afro-Caribbean culture. The rest of us would do well to take their hands because water’s presence on this planet is what makes every manifestation of life possible. Water is central to creation myths worldwide because it actually created us.

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A wild love for the world

Wild geranium (Geranium erianthum) Wynn Nature Center, Homer, Alaska by Betsey Crawford

In this moment, is it still possible to face the gathering darkness, and say to the physical Earth, and to all its creatures, including ourselves, fiercely and without embarrassment, I love you, and to embrace fearlessly the burning world?  ~ Barry Lopez ~ My youngest nephew is standing at the gates of adulthood appalled by

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