too long away

just need to touch in here, to remind myself to leave a few tracks – in sand, mud, forest, hyperspace – to remember where I might have been in the world, in my head, or on the page.

I have a new story coming out Feb 10, 2020 on https://poydrasreview.com/ – excerpted from Daughter of the Nazca Moon (the novel hasn’t found a US home yet, but is is currently being translated into Spanish with possibilities of publishing in Peru)

NaNoWriMo kept me busy in November, working on the sequel where Patya travels to the altiplano of Peru and Boliva (still sixth century) in search of answers from the fabled society of Tiwanaku and the mystical Lake Titicaca.

In October, made a few dramatic hikes overlooking the lake, beginning at 3,800 meters above sea level… on up to nearly 5,000. slow but steady…

respectfully conscious of the movement of clouds, the direction of the wind, the proximity of the lightning, and the absence of refuge at the summit

Autumn Again After 14 Years

View from our front porch. We are not in Lima anymore

It has been a long process, but our transition continues to be a true pachacuti in our lives, in the most positive sense of that Andean “turning over of worlds’. Closing chapters. Launching new beginnings. Re-prioritizing. Re-energizing. Refocusing. But above all, breathing in the mountains, enjoying family, and reinventing our surroundings. Such a blessing to be here! We have always had one foot in Peru, and one in the US. That will never change.

one of our favorite spots during our walks on the malecon in Miraflores, Lima

…on my mind

Climate change.

Polluted oceans.

Orcas.

J-pod.  J-35. Tahlequah

Holding her dead calf above water, wishing her child to breathe.

I still think of those seventeen days and thousand miles, of

Tahlequah carrying her child,

Holding her grief visible for the world,

Refusing to let go.

Propping her daughter on her forhead, trying to keep up,

Even as her calf decays,

Refusing to let go.

A thousand long miles and seventeen days,

She grieves.

We watch.

The day she lets her baby go,

a call echoes in their wake.

The image remains.

And now,

I cannot let it go.

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FROM THE CENTER FOR WHALE RESEARCH

Date: July 26, 2018

Subject: Newborn Orca dies

We are saddened to report that a baby Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) died a short time after it was born near Victoria, British Columbia on July 24, 2018. The newborn whale was reported alive and swimming with its mother, J35, and other members of J pod near Clover Point on the Victoria shoreline in mid-morning. A Center for Whale Research team was on the water in Haro Strait at the time and immediately responded to photo-document the newborn calf for the long-term census study we maintain for the US and Canadian governments. Unfortunately, by the time the CWR crew arrived on scene, the newborn calf was deceased, and the pod had traveled several miles eastward of the reported sighting location. The baby’s carcass was sinking and being repeatedly retrieved by the mother who was supporting it on her forehead and pushing it in choppy seas toward San Juan Island, USA. The mother continued supporting and pushing the dead baby whale throughout the day until at least sunset. A resident of San Juan Island near Eagle Cove reported: “At sunset, a group of 5-6 females gathered at the mouth of the cove in a close, tight-knit circle, staying at the surface in a harmonious circular motion for nearly 2 hours. As the light dimmed, I was able to watch them continue what seemed to be a ritual or ceremony. They stayed directly centered in the moonbeam, even as it moved.” 

Tahlequah’s Daughter:  July 24, 2018 – August 11, 2018

A BLEAK REALITY FOR SOUTHERN RESIDENT ORCAS    

The toxins build up, grow more concentrated with each generation. 

Births continue to decline.

Of those that make it to full term, most are stillborn. 

After being shot in the 50s to keep them from eating the salmon, they were hunted and captured in the 60s for entertainment. Once people began to realize that orcas were intelligent, social beings who suffer in confinement,  protections were put in place. The orca population slowly began to recover. But the depletion of food supplies and increase in pollution has led to such decline that the southern resident orcas have become an officially endangered population. 

Scientists are now referring to the orca as the planet’s canary, the reflection of the ocean’s health. 

In a mere handful of generations, human ignorance and indifference has done more harm to the earth than we can begin to fathom. We can’t afford to duck away from that reality, a truth which can indeed be very inconvenient.

Instead, we need to amplify the voices that remind us where to focus…

perspective

Chief Seattle quote: The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All...

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realise that we can not eat money.”   Chief Seattle

Qwe ‘lhol mechen  means “our relations below the waves.” The qwe ‘lhol mechen are fighting for survival, and we must act boldly to help them. As one Lummi elder has said, “What happens to them, happens to us.”
                                                                             https://sacredsea.org/blackfish/

blooming again after 5 years

The delightful fragrance of a night blooming San Pedro cactus brings bees from far and wide to its large white target. They won’t have much time to savor its nectar before the flower melts back into itself, drops to the ground, and dissolves into a puddle of decay. I imagine it in the wild, the giant flower sucking moisture from the succulent core, spiking outward for the launch in a burst of energy, eager for the pollinizing visits. Then it wilts and whithers, (wrapping itself around the theoretically fertilized fruit I have yet to witness in an urban setting)… and drops to the dry desert floor to disintegrate into the earth – to soften the soil  in preparation for the gift of a new beginning. Once again, Nature showing off her brilliant designs.

 

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Viking Sun

childhood dream come true. land of fjords, home of Thor

Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki legend who fired flames of adventure

followed currents across the Pacific

challenged Atlantic oil tankers for defiling the sea

burned his Tigris boat of reeds

in protest against war profiteers arming the mideast

(an unconventional pioneer in exploration, archaeology, environmental activism – his writing took me on my first trip to Peru, to Easter Island, to Bolivia, to Polynesia. He died in 2002, before we finally crossed paths in Tucume, but in Oslo, I have picked up his trail again – thought provoking and relevant)

Thor Heyerdahl (center) and his 10-man crew burn their reed ship Tigris in protest of the wars raging in the Middle East. (Photo by Kon-Tiki Museum, Oslo)

Above: On April 3, 1978, after their five-month-4,200-mile-oceanic voyage, Thor Heyerdahl (center) and his 10-man crew burn their reed ship Tigris in protest of the wars raging in the Middle East. (Photo by Kon-Tiki Museum, Oslo).

https://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/ai111_folder/111_articles/111_heyerdahl_tigris.html

After the rain

 

As heavy rains and flooding wreaked havok along the desert coast of Peru in March and April, I kept thinking about what had happened to the Nasca culture in Peru during the sixth century, when natural disasters contributed to the demise of their society.

With almost 1,200,000 people afftected, many of whom lost their homes and farmlands, there was an initial surge of help, an oupouring of sympathy across the country and around the world. From the patio of the Presidential Palace to grocery stores and television stations – from churches to stadiums to hair salons, the rush to assist in the midst of so much disaster was earnest and widespread. The rains lightened, the worst of the emergency was handled, channels were established for getting resources to those in need, and the work of recovery has begun.

And it will be work.

What happens now must also anticipate what will happen tomorrow.

But enough for now. Have to pack for Chiclayo.

But for more about the recent flooding and why it makes me think of Nasca, you can read my essay in the Earth Island Journal.

Please have a look. tweet it. share it. think about it. comment…  Thanks – I’m curious what you think.

In Peru, Learning from the Nasca: 

Finding parallels between the demise of an ancient culture and contemporary environmental challenges

 

what is is about Nasca?

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The questions I went in with when I started writing the novel Desert Voices had to do with: 1) what lead to the demise of the Nasca culture?  2) how would such an earth-honoring culture interpret the environmental crises that constantly plagued the region? and 3) what lessons can we apply to our current environmental challenges?

I read everything I could get my hands on, researched the evidence left behind, talked to archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, archaeobotanists and geologists. I spent the night atop their sacred mountain, visited thousand-year-old trees, and explored hidden valleys. I walked the Nazca lines in my head and scratch my own across wide stretches of beach.

I ended up with more questions than I started with.

I began mostly with curiosity about how the Nasca had managed to harness the underground waters that turned their desert valleys into productive fields; about why they had such a penchant for severed heads; and about which of all the theories the Nazca lines might be closest to the truth of how they were actually used.

But in the process, some new questions led me down some unexpected paths. The prevalence of orcas in their iconography prompted me to research the ocean’s top predator – which opened up a new world of understanding about the social structure of the species and also raised questions about interspecies communication.

The central role of the San Pedro cactus in their iconocraphy, remniscent of the Chavin culture, led me to explore the living cultures that still use the cactus in a ceremonial brew as a “visionary medicine” and who consider some plants to be teachers of wisdom and guides for healing.

And so the novel project became much more than a novel.

One of the first things that came out of my explorations was a documentary about the guarango, considered by some to be the “king of the desert”, the One Tree that not only unites the three worlds -the heavens above, the world below, and the place we inhabit in between- but that also provided food, shelter and fuel. I organized a trip through Ica and Nasca with documentary filmmaker Delia Ackerman, camerographer Juan Duran, and cultural anthropologist Jerome van der Zalm.

You can see the result here in the short film: The King of the Desert is Dying

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