As I set out to write this midwinter reflection, I cook a pot of lentils. (This is our earth.) Cooking my way to clarity. Or as Montreal writing friend Kate Henderson said in her Christmas card to me the other day, “writing” these days “takes the form of thinking.” Thinking. Cooking. Reading. Listening. I’ve been eavesdropping on many conversations: Indigenous-Ukrainian Relationship Building Initiative on the Canadian movement for Truth and Reconciliation (no I am not Ukrainian, but it doesn’t matter). Jonathan Franzen and Greg Jackson on climate action. Margaret MacMillan and Roy Jacobsen looking back on the paradoxes of war, the aftermath: both the benefits (the way positive societal change is accelerated) and the destruction (how people and species are destroyed and displaced).
And so in this season of peace, their questions mix and mull in my mind: What happens when we share our stories of this land, human being to human being? What healing, what joy, and what partnerships are born? What if we approach the climate fight like a war, investing all of our resources in it, all of our labour, accelerating innovation, and recovering a common purpose as we do so? What if the climate war is already lost and the way forward instead is to build stronger, more resilient communities, finding hope through smaller victories? Tackling the battles we know we can win now: stopping the overfishing of the world’s oceans; eliminating plastic waste; preventing the desertification of arable lands; halting the destruction of boreal forests; rainforests and peat bogs; welcoming the displaced of our own and other species (offering sanctuary to the migrant, conserving and rebuilding habitat); supporting our local farmers market; starting a community garden?
I wrote in my journal the other day: “Dreams are trying to force their way to the surface of my mind.”
I wonder if this pandemic, as it drags on, is a preparation (Rest, Renewal, Dream) for this much greater struggle already upon us?
My pot of Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter is done. I serve myself a bowl and give thanks. This is our earth. In a year of drought, fires, and flooding: water from the North Saskatchewan River, du Puy lentils from southern Saskatchewan, salted butter from the interior of British Columbia; yellow onion, chili peppers and Russian garlic from Edmonton farms. Aroy-D Coconut milk from Thailand (my haircutter says it’s the best). Indian curry powder from who knows where. Hands passing to hands passing to hands, from picking, to packaging, to shelves: my vision of “supply chain management.” My vision of the networks, human and otherwise that have been laid bare by this pandemic, urging us to reach out and take hold as we welcome a new year.