Magenta Chicken | No. 3
Hurling Over the Breach
Our home is 26 feet above sea level. I never imagined that our little town might drown while the rest of the world is on fire, dies of thirst, or is submerged by inland torrents of water. Clearly, I did not anticipate the systemic chaos of an Hieronymus Bosch hellscape that climate change would thrust us into this year. 2022, the year that was supposed to be mine.
I know I am not the only one wondering what in the love of Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., is going on. And just what exactly am I supposed to do?
Sandwiched between two very long-legged men in the emergency row of a 787 MAX (unwittingly — I would never choose that plane) en route to Palm Springs, I listened to “This Isn’t the California I Married.” The whole thing knocked me out of my “wait, what” coma, but this passage in particular rewired everything for me:
“Most of us have dragged our feet and deluded ourselves for too long about the state of the world. While we remain stuck, our world pulled away from our understanding of it. We’ve now fallen into a gap in our apprehension of reality. We need to acknowledge this, size up the rupture, then hurl ourselves over the breach.”
So exactly how does one hurl themselves over the breach? And what is on the other side once you’ve done it?
All I know is that without a thriving planet, nothing else is possible.
So I’m hurling my ever-loving best by trying to accept the brutal truths and evolve with the changes. Forcing myself to be aware of the possibility of the last time and the last one. Doing what I can where I can. Looking for the positive stories and repeating them. Holding space for the loss. And asking question after question, doing lots of reading, learning, listening, and then questioning it all again. And then again, and again, revising as I go.
At my favorite bookstore on the Cape, I always head straight for the superbly curated nature writing section. In my most recent foray, I brought two books to the counter. The owner took a look at my selections and shared that he doesn’t sell a lot of climate change books.
A gray rhino event is a slowly emerging, obvious threat that we can see and acknowledge, yet do nothing about. Even here, where the threat is right! fucking! there!, it is hard to get people to focus.
In an effort to continue propelling myself over that breach, I gathered a collection to explore over the coming months — a counterbalance to the WE’RE-ALL-GOING-TO-DIE!!!, doomy-gloom-gloom messages bombarding us. This eclectic combination tackles the climate crisis in a non-wonky way. I , too, see those numbers and graphs and start looking for the exits.
Here’s what I’d rather focus on: the possibilities, saving the natural world, understanding human differences, Indigenous knowledge, poetry, Buddhist approaches to enduring suffering, homesteading ideas, disaster preparedness, survival skills, and a dash of solarpunk optimism.
In case you, too, are up at night lost in The Overwhelm, join me in figuring it out as we go over the breach. Let’s hurl!
Hurling Over the Breach: A Trans-Apocalyptic Syllabus
“This is Not the California I Married” podcast and/or article.
This is where I started. Covers California wildfires and what “trans-apocalyptic” means. (It’s based on Alex Steffen’s futuristic view — check out his Twitter and his newsletter, The Snap Forward.)
The World as We Knew It: Dispatches from a Changing Climate, Amy Brady.
Taking stock of what has already impacted us.
Nowhere Left to Go: How Climate Change is Driving Species to the Ends of The Earth, Benjamin von Brackel.
The animals are moving, people will soon follow.
At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth, Madeline Ostrander.
The big questions: ”How do we find a sense of home and rootedness in a time of unprecedented upheaval? What happens when the seasons and rhythms in which we have built our lives go off-kilter?”
Taking the Heat: How Climate Change is Affecting Your Mind, Body, and Spirit and What You Can Do About It, Bonnie Schneider.
I was a grumpy, sweaty, agitated mess in the wretched heat this summer. How do we adapt to THAT?
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, Anya Elizabeth Johnson.
Centering women’s voices, a book of hope for our collective future.
The Natural World
Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard, Douglas W. Tallamy.
I’ve seen first-hand the impact of native plants in my backyard.
“Backyard Battle: Helping Outnumbered Native Bees Thrive in a Honeybee World” video.
Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Moss retains moisture and keeps everything cooler. The hobbits were on to something.
World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, Aimee Nezhukumatahil.
A reminder of what is at stake.
Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking, Bonnie Smith Whitehouse.
Connecting to nature and your environment and grounding yourself in the uncertainty.
The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters, Juliette Kayyem.
I’ve mentioned Juliette before. When something happens, she’s the first person I look for on Twitter for guidance.
Jessica Wildfire’s OK Doomer newsletter and Twitter account.
Jessica considers, researches, and voices the absolute worst things that could happen. It is a gift that she is willing to carry that psychological baggage for all of us.
Survival Skills + Homesteading
How To Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter and Self-Preservation Anywhere, Bradford Angier.
The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals―and Other Forgotten Skills, Tristan Gooley.
How To Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea, Tristan Gooley.
The Beginner’s Guide to Natural Navigation online course.
The Pursuit of Outdoor Clues podcast.
The above five resources are all designed to give us some practical skills that we might need.
Permaculture for Beginners: a Whole-Systems Design Course.
In addition to providing native plants for our local creatures, we can create a self-sustaining ecological environment that provides food for us.
Ecokitchen ( a free 8-week newsletter.)
What we eat and how we eat has a huge impact on climate change.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants, Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Earth Medicines: Ancestral Wisdom, Healing Recipes, and Wellness Rituals from a Curandera, Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz.
Two resources sharing the wisdom of Indigenous people who have harnessed the symbiosis of our planet for generations.
A documentary covering the destruction of Native American foodways and efforts to reclaim them.
The EcoSattva Training: Discovering Our Unshakable Response.
Training begins October 16.
Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth — The Buddha's Life and Message through Feminine Eyes, Thanissara.
Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis, David R. Loy.
All of the above cover the Buddhist approach to suffering, dealing with uncertainty, and an intrinsic appreciation for the interconnectedness of life.
The Human Factor
How Not To Be Afraid: Seven Ways to Live When Everything Seems Terrifying, Gareth Higgins.
Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides, Geoffrey L. Cohen.
Between Us: How Cultures Create Emotions, Batja Mesquita.
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, Susan Cain.
Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise, Justin Zorn.
We Were Made for These Times: Ten Lessons on Moving Through Change, Loss, and Disruption, Kaira Jewel Lingo.
A few resources to help us examine how fear, sorrow, loss, silence, and belonging have intermingled in our lives.
Imagining a Better Future
One Green Thing website.
Try the online assessment to discover your “climate change service superpower.” (I’m a sage. This entire list is a sage’s approach to climate change — spiritual, connected to nature, designed to bring other’s along.)
Loam’s Compassion in Crisis digital book.
”What do we need to be prepared? What can we do to support our animal, vegetable, and mineral kin during crisis?” Plus, there is a checklist of supplies at the end.
As She Rises podcast.
Positive stories from feminine BIPOC voices leading the charge against climate change.
The Solarpunk movement.
Optimistic in tone, the focus is on a future filled with lots of green and plants and renewable energies and stained glass and living biotech. Check out the hashtag: #solarpunk on IG. Here’s the aesthetic associated with it. Or read the short stories in Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers.
Email from the Future: Notes from 2084, Michael Rogers.
”What would the world look like if we did everything right for the next 50 years?”
Living with the Unknown, Emergence Magazine.
Examines the deep uncertainty of our current world: “How can we find our footing in a groundless reality where everything can fall apart at a moments notice?” (You can order a copy or read it online as it is released throughout the year.)
The finalists for Grist’s short story contest, “Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors.”
Speculative stories about our lives in a hopeful future.
The Essential W.S. Merwin, W.S. Merwin.
Mary Oliver is the obvious poetical choice for these times and, by all means, read her work! But also consider Merwin’s poetic subjects: “the earth, the sea and their myriad creatures; the cycle of the seasons; myth and spirituality (he was a practicing Buddhist); personal history and memory; and, above all, life and its damnable evanescence.”
Lots of FICTION.
Doesn’t matter what. You pick. Here’s why:
(From Vox:) “Researchers … discovered a short-term decrease in the need for ‘cognitive closure’ in the minds of readers of fiction. … Those with a high need for cognitive closure … [have] an aversion to ambiguity and confusion, and … when confronted with confusing circumstances, tend to seize on fast explanations and hang on to them. That generally means they’re more susceptible to things like conspiracy theories. ... Reading fiction … tends to retrain the brain to stay open, comfortable with ambiguity, and able to sort through information more carefully.”
Climate Preparedness Week, virtual offerings by Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW.)
September 24-30. Sessions covering topics like the mental health impacts of climate change and how to prepare communities for extreme heat.
Bringing It Home: Tackling Climate Change in Our Region.
October 28. A virtual conference organized by The Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative. Learn about the future of offshore wind and renewables on the Cape and discover tools available to all of us to decarbonize our buildings.
I’d love to hear what all of you are doing to manage your eco-anxiety. Let us know in the comments! And please share any other resources you’ve found helpful.
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Currently reading: The World as We Knew It: Dispatches from a Changing Climate, Amy Brady
Braiding Sweetgrass is a favorite of mine. I’ve given it away and reread it twice. We’re living by the Chesapeake Bay now so I’ve pulled out invasive non natives and started work on native wildflowers. Have someone coming this week to plan better (less grass) yard and keep that up. And composting (I resisted for years but…).