Tag Archives: global warming

Reflections on the Future of a Trumpet Vine


Early in the month of June it felt as if our trumpet vine exploded into bloom. I could not recall it coming into bloom so fully in summers past. The hummingbirds were attuned to the burgeoning arrival of the long, coral-orange flowers and appeared en mass the next day, so in sync were they. It was magical.

I make a point to sit each day and spend time in the presence of the trumpet vine, waiting for hummingbirds to grace me with their presence. Hummingbirds are called “time-stoppers” and that is exactly how I experience them. When one shows up, all else fades away, and my full attention is on this extraordinary bird, so small and exquisite, wings in constant motion, her emerald green back shining in the sun as she dips in and out of the flowers, drinking the nectar hidden within.

Each hummingbird is a gift to me, quieting my mind and reminding me of the beauty and wonder of the living Earth. In the late spring I anticipate their arrival. In the summer, I bask in their presence. They are one of my favorite things about summer, their magic lasting all the way through August. They are a source of joy, and in the current state of the world in which we find ourselves, joy is a much-needed holy medicine for the heart and soul. I’ll take any hit I can get.

Yet, as I write of the trumpet vine and the winged ones it brings, I sense something is different this summer. There is a quiet thought that pulls at me, as I wonder if the trumpet vine will last till August. There is a quiet worry that climate change is changing the seasonal lifespan of our trumpet vine. A quiet worry that it bloomed too much too soon, and the hummingbirds may leave before August arrives.

The hummingbirds have always marked the beginning and end of summer for me. When the trumpet vine is down to a few flowers, I begin to mourn the end of my time with these extraordinary birds and the end of my favorite season. It is a ritual born from the living Earth. The thought of them leaving before summer’s end throws me off balance and brings the reality of climate change directly into my backyard; the thought darts in and out like the hummingbirds.

Yes, I know. Be here now, present to the gifts before me. Drinking it in while I can. Keeping the climate change floodgate at bay, at least when I’m with the trumpet vine. Still, I am left to wonder what will happen this summer to the vine and the hummingbirds and the hits of joy that carry me through to season’s end. Left to wonder about the extent of the devastating effects of climate change, how it will all unfold, what it will mean to our way of life, to my daughter and grandchildren’s lives, to the world as we know it.

I see another hummingbird. Time stops. The sacred reveals itself. I drink in the joy like nectar and go back to letting the summer unfold, one hummingbird at a time.


Calling All Angels for Renewable Energy

As spring begins, I am keenly aware of the urgency the renewable energy movement is facing. Fracking is moving at lightening speed across the country and the world, poisoning water, air and, of course, people. Elected officials in Congress are doing their best to get the Keystone XL pipeline passed, even as tar sands spills continue to rear their ugly head.

The fossil fuel industry has the deepest pockets on the planet, and at times it feels as if we can’t beat them in this fight for a viable future. Yet, we continue to grow as a movement in numbers and strength. The coordination between people, towns, cities, states and organizations is impressive and essential to our capacity to impact the shift to renewable energy.

This video was made to inspire all those giving so much of their energy and time to this dire cause. After all, there is no Planet B. Just us and the choice to create a safe and viable future. I say, in the end, our passion will tip the scales away from dirty energy toward renewables. Let’s keep it up!

The Calm After the Storm: Reflections on the Gift of Electricity

Friday, June 29th, 10:50 pm.  I was lying in bed with my daughter Claire reading her to sleep when the wind started picking up.  Claire does not like storms, and her body was alert and tense like a cat.  I kept gently saying, “It’s only wind. It’s only rain,” and would go back to reading.  Then I heard the wind as I had never heard it before – the derecho wind.  It rolled with ferocity against the window, in and out, in and out.  Claire was doing her best to pretend that it was just the wind and rain I spoke of, but we both were quickly coming to a different conclusion.

Then the lights went out.

Claire is not a fan of the dark either.

Aided by a battery-powered lantern, Claire finally fell asleep after the storm had subsided – well past midnight.  As I left her bed for my own, I noticed how truly silent the house was.  No AC running, no ceiling fans, no humidifier, no refrigerator, no currents at all.  Just silence so quiet it seemed loud.  Having lived in cities or suburbs my whole life, I’m not used to such silence.  It felt eerie to me, as if the whole world had shut down – a kind of stillness through which whispers the deep mysteries of life and death.

It was dark, too.  No street lamps that usually keep the house slightly lit at night.  As I slipped between the sheets, a bit of light made itself known by way of the moon, Earth’s first night light.  I found myself palpably reflecting on what life before electricity was like, but my thoughts only went so far before sleep thankfully overtook me.

In the morning, the first thing on my mind was the fridge.  I tend to have more than a week’s worth of food in there, and now it stood the chance of spoiling.  Our house phones were dead, and we hadn’t charged the cell phones.  The Internet was down.  The air was warm and unmoving.

Claire’s anxiety continued to grow, as she prayed with all her heart that the electricity would come on before night came again.  We went out for most of the day to shift her focus and seek cooler air.  When we got home, the house was pitch black, but Claire was so tired from the night before, sleep came more easily.  Thank God.

At 5:00am, I was awakened by the sound of electricity returning.  The silence was replaced with humming and whooshing, as the air started flowing back into the house.  Claire woke up early in utter exaltation and celebration, like Christmas morning, and we went about our Sunday, so very grateful for the gift of electricity.  Every time I opened the refrigerator and felt the cool air, I felt gratitude.

One thing I learned from the derecho storm is that I don’t want to be without electricity.  Having a refrigerator, a phone, a computer with Internet access and some capacity to cool the air are all modern conveniences I would hate to say goodbye to.  But where that electricity comes from, that’s what I’d love to say goodbye to.

Electricity is an extraordinary invention, but we don’t need fossil fuel to generate it.  The extraction, refining and use of fossil fuel is poisoning our water, air and soil – not to mention cooking the planet – yet our government continues to subsidize the fossil fuel industry, despite their obscene profits.  Renewable forms of energy like wind, sun, geothermal and water power are all available to us for the taking and do not threaten the future of life on Earth.  Yet these take a back seat to fossil fuel and its industry that has the money to buy elected officials and keep the dirty engine running.

If we continue to run our society on fossil fuel, the storms, droughts, heat waves, floods and fires will keep coming, with greater and greater frequency, as the planet continues to warm.  This is scientific fact that many would rather push aside in favor of the status quo.  Having been through this latest storm, I wish with all my heart that the people of the United States would wake up and insist we use our innovation and resources to make renewables the foundation of our future.

Claire suffering through two nights of no electricity will be nothing compared to what the future holds for her and all children.  We do have the power to change things, but only if we make the effort to speak up loud and clear, again and again, until our elected officials understand that the health and well being of the people they represent  – not to mention the planet we call home – matters more than the money they receive from the fossil fuel industry.


Here in Baltimore, I switched to Clean Currents, which allows our home to be 100% powered by wind over coal.  It’s easy to do, still goes through BGE and is no more expensive.  One small step for a better world.  Check it out!

Tending to Things Small and Large

Sam in his habitat.

The day after Hurricane Irene, my husband, daughter and I spent a few days vacationing at the beach.  While there, our daughter Claire campaigned hard to bring home a new member of the family – a hermit crab.  Apprehensive at first, my husband and I concluded it would be an easy enough pet to take of, so we said yes.  Armed with bags of sand from the beach, a 2.5-gallon tank, various shells, a sponge, and a plastic palm tree, we headed home, already fond of the little hermit crab – now affectionately called Sam.

Once home, I looked more extensively at information on how to care for hermit crabs, as the pamphlet that came with Sam seemed inadequate.  It turns out that, though “hermit” is in their name, they are anything but.  Hermit crabs love to hang out with other hermit crabs, ideally in a pack of six to nine, though in their natural habitat they’ll hang out with a hundred of their kin.  I wish they had told us about this at the Sea Shell Shop.

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A Hit of Hope for Stopping Global Warming

This video helped remind me of the power of grassroots movements to change things when those in Washington won’t. It was a hit of hope, and I needed it.