Conflagration – #writephoto

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They had been looking forward to their camping trip to the national park. The two of them hadn’t taken a vacation together in a long time. This time together was long-awaited. They both enjoyed the forest, the outdoors, the wildlife, the hiking, all the things they would get to do in the wilderness area of the park. They set up their camp with excitement that afternoon while planning their activities for the evening and the next day.

He went fishing in the river that ran nearby and actually caught fish for their dinner. They were both thrilled. They had brought vegetables from home to complete their meal. They were grilling their food over the campfire when they first noticed the smoke. At first they thought it was just smoke from the campfires of other people. Then they saw a herd of deer and even a black bear and her cubs run past them. He became concerned. There was a low cacophony rumbling in the forest.

Quite suddenly, there were people running by them, screaming at them to leave, to run, that a conflagration was heading toward them. They picked up a few necessities and got in their car.

When they got out on the road, they quickly saw they couldn’t escape by driving. The  cars were backed up for miles. They could see the glow of blaze behind them and could tell it was getting closer. It was time to abandon the car.

They felt like they had run, along with everyone else in the same tourist town, for miles. She fell to her knees over a lump in the terrain. When he stooped to pull her up, they both heard a grunt and they thought she had fallen over a person. They started frantically searching the ground and found the body….of a large pot-bellied pig. He was digging himself as deep into the ground as he could. They knew they couldn’t help him and jumped up and ran on. The fire was practically licking at their heels.

When it was all over, they had reached safety, but not everyone had and not every animal in the beautiful park had escaped. Later, they found that the pig was a family pet that knew to burrow into the ground. He’d been rescued and was recovering at the nearest veterinary hospital. It would take longer, much longer, for the national park to recover from the fire that the young boys let get out of control. Some families would never recover from the loss of their loved ones at all.

Dedicated to the victims of the fire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2016

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Flint Michigan Water Crisis: Don’t Forget About Flint

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A lot of press was given to the Native American Standing Rock Pipeline Resistance, which has now been resolved. Some press has been given to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but we don’t seem to know quite as much about it. The Standing Rock protest was being held to try to protect their water supply. The Flint, Michigan water supply has already been severely contaminated.

The Flint, Michigan water supply was contaminated beginning in April, 2014. Flint switched its water supply from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River. The Flint River was treated improperly and the pipes in it leached lead into the river which made its way into the drinking water. Between 6,000 and 12,000 children have been exposed to lead in their water. An outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease in the area is most likely the result of the contamination of the water supply. Ten deaths resulted.

By June of 2015, Virginia Tech tested Flint’s water and found that it had almost three times the amount of lead in it that water had that the Environmental Protection Agency classified as hazardous waste. Children were getting sick with rashes and mysterious illnesses. Lead has a particularly bad effect on the nervous system.

The President declared a state of emergency in Flint in January 2016. Criminal charges have been filed against some officials who were involved this situation. Some were involved in what amounted to a cover-up.

At this time, the Flint water supplied has been switched back to the Detroit supply though it takes a long time for the lines to be clear of lead.

Not enough attention has been paid to Flint and the children of Flint. What is going to be done about those 6,000-12,000 children who have been exposed to very high levels of  lead? Since lead is a neurotoxin, it causes behaviorial delays, lowered IQ, and developmental problems. These issues can’t be reversed. The proper diet can decrease the absorption of lead so parents are being given information regarding mitigating the circumstances somewhat. Of course, switching water supplies back to the old one is also necessary and has already happened.

Unfortunately, the crisis in Flint is still ongoing and has not had the positive ending that the Standing Rock crisis was able to accomplish.#amwriting #amblogging #writing #Flint

 

The Demise of Family Farming

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As Ronan trudged to the barn in the crunchy, frosty grass, he continued the train of thought he had all night. He had slept very little last night. Could he really make farming work in today’s world? He and Sherry, his wife of five years, had worked so hard to establish their 100-acre organic farm in the western part of Kentucky. The soil was rich and the conditions were just right to grow any number of crops. But the weather!

Ronan believed climate change was playing havoc with the weather in this area. What used to be lush and green when he grew up here was now starved for water. This past summer, Ronan had to irrigate his crops which cut deeply into the little profit he made.

Other young couples wanted to join him in organic farming but they saw no future in it. They wanted to grow their own food and have enough to sell and support their families.

Sherry was getting tired of having nothing. Everything was so expensive.

Ronan feared the pollution that caused climate change has killed all their dreams. He was thinking of shutting down the farm. Others were thinking of doing the same.

200 words

#amwriting #amblogging #writing #organicfarming

*This post in response to the the challenge from flashfictionfromthepracticalpractitioner

#weekendcoffeeshare 7/23/2016

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“Jenn,” I say, as my friend walks in my side door to join me for our #weeklycoffeeshare this Saturday morning, “you’ll never guess what happened this week.” Jenn automatically assumed something terrible. It was something sort of terrible, but also natural considering where I live. “What,” Jenn asked as we took our hot beverages out to my deck. When we got to my deck, Jenn didn’t have to wonder anymore. She could see for herself.

“Oh no, “Jenn exclaimed. “How did that happen?” Jenn was looking at the very large tree that had been the biggest and tallest tree in my backyard and was now lying, toppled over, and crushing our fence. You see, I live in the forest and my yard is filled with very tall, large trees. “It happened on Monday, “I explained. “I had Betsy outside in the early morning. We went in and I heard a huge crash. I looked out and the tree was lying on its side.” Betsy, by the way, is my dog. Some time, I want to blog about Betsy and her adventures.

The big tree had toppled over, fully uprooted. It was not knocked down by a storm. It was a bright, sunny day. It just….fell. Thankfully, it fell away from the house. For those who are not familiar with a hardwood forest in the Ohio River Valley, it is almost always a bit damp unless there is a serious drought which is not yet a common condition in this part of the U.S. We have had a lot of rain this year. The only thing we can figure out is that the ground was so wet, and it is clay soil, that the tree was literally pushed up out of the ground by a high water table. In the forest, we tend to get more rain than in other places. Forests play a key role in the water cycle process.

I love my forest surroundings though I always worry about the big trees so close to my house and the possibility of them falling. It’s healthy to live in the forest. Forests, the rustling of leaves, are soothing and peaceful to the human ear. Forests absorb more than 60% of the greenhouse gases in our environment. Not only do trees absorb carbon dioxide but they emit breathable oxygen for humans. Trees essentially fight climate change and clean the air.

Trees can cut air conditioning costs by 50% or more. They also conserve water because they protect lawns and lawn plantings. Trees even provide food…..think apple trees, pear trees. They also provide wood that can be burned for heat.

Trees provide a habitat for 70% of the world’s wildlife. Every animal serves a purpose and even dead and dying trees provide some function for these animals. Woodpeckers, for example, feed on dying trees in my yard.

I was sad to lose the big tree. It will provide firewood for a long time to come. The top, which fell into the woods, will provide shelter for wildlife. Now to get it out of our yard!  #weekendcoffeeshare #amwriting #blogging #writing #environment

#weekendcoffeeshare is brought to you by Diana at parttimemonsterblog.com

 

The Solace of Water

Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.

— John Muir

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There is nothing that soothes me like the sound of water. A babbling brook, crashing ocean waves, a trickling stream, waves sloshing against the sand at low tide, the rain on the roof. Those water-related sounds of nature. I think they are built into our DNA. They were there in the beginning .They still soothe me like nothing else.

There are many scientific studies that have researched the effect of water on our brains. Some scientists believe that our brains are hardwired to react positively to being around water, that it calms us and even makes us more creative, and puts us in a mild meditative state. One scientist, Walter Nichols, wrote a book entitled, “The Blue Mind,” which discussed how being around water may even be able to heal what is broken in our brains and increase our happiness and satisfaction with life. He says that water gives our brains some downtime, a rest, which most of us need.

When we hear water or are around water, our “blue” mind takes over and puts us in a state of “we” versus “me.” We can stand at the edge of a large lake or look across the ocean and get a sense of vastness and that there is something larger than ourselves. That helps us put life into perspective.

There are physical health benefits from water as well. The more seafood we eat, the better off we are. Most seafood is full of omega-3’s which increase brain growth. The more we eat, the bigger our brains get. Scientists have also discovered that the more fish you eat, the happier you are.

Then there is our body composition. The human body is about 60% water. The brain and heart are around 73% water and the lungs are 83% water. We, as human beings, feel comfortable being around water. A normal sized male needs a little more than a gallon per day of water to survive. A normal sized female needs about one-half gallon. Water has vital functions in our body. It regulates our temperature. It helps metabolize our food in order to move the nutrients into our cells. It lubricants our joints. It flushes out toxins from our bodies. It helps produce saliva. And much more.

No wonder we like to be around water and that water soothes us! It’s part of us.

I crave being near the ocean and, unfortunately, I live in a land-locked state. I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel and spend considerable amounts of time near the ocean. The only ocean I haven’t seen is the Indian Ocean. The wildest ocean I’ve ever experienced is the part of the North Atlantic called the North Sea. The calmest ocean is part of the Atlantic as well – the Gulf of Mexico. No matter which ocean  I’ve been to, those swooshing sounds of the waves relax my brain and body and let me leave myself for just a little while. That’s all I need. #blogging #writing #amwriting #environment #dailyprompt

 

 

 

Book Review: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

I just finished reading a book that I have to tell you about. It is a 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner and I can see why. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert, is a quiet storytelling of possibly the last extinction the Earth will know. Anyone interested in the environment, climate change, history, geography, or just the world in general will likely find this book interesting.

Even our children, in their fascination with dinosaurs, study mass extinction events; specifically, the asteroid event that wiped them out. There have been other mass extinction events in the last billion or so years. The premise of Kolbert’s book is that the sixth extinction event may be the last.

I don’t want to ruin the book for you. It is a wonderful, well-researched, very readable account of the Earth in terms of the environment. Kolbert draws on the work of geologists, botanists, climatologists, biologists, historians, geographers, and more and pulls it all together. It is a five-star read, in the opinion of this writer. #Elizabeth Kolbert