*Afterthought #79 – Clearer Skies

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Foggy August morning on Lopez Island

At the time of my last post (Wildfire Season), smoke from fires in the region seeped into my open office window. Now it’s been replaced by morning fog that gives this month the nickname “Foggust.” I’m grateful for the return of nearly-pristine air quality. I end the month, though, with a deepened awareness of the billions of people who never find relief from smoke’s harm.

I recently met a man who works for Oxfam, specifically with its efforts to develop and implement clean cooking solutions. Globally, three billion people cook over open fires that burn heavily-polluting fuels like charcoal, kerosene, wood, and animal dung. Not only does cooking this way have serious health and environmental impacts, but it disproportionally affects women and children who are most exposed to cooking smoke’s harmful effects.

Cooking-fire-with-drying-venison-Auxiliadora-Perez-house-Sta-Elisa-Nicaragua-1024x768I saw (and felt) these effects during a visit to Nicaragua, standing at the side of a woman in her family’s smoky kitchen as she made tortillas over an open fire. Two NGOs I’ve worked with there, Center for Development in Central America and Bainbridge-Ometepe Sister Island Association, support health clinics that treat hundreds of people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses related to this pollution.

Fortunately, clean cooking solutions exist that can reduce exposure to harmful cookstove smoke and decrease climate damage. Putting these alternatives in place is complex, but groups like Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves are working to eliminate barriers to production and use of efficient stoves and fuels.

Stories from the Oxfam worker don’t negate the reality of the discomfort and harm caused by wildfires and their smoke this summer. But they do remind me of what a privilege it is to turn the nobs on my electric stove each day.

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*Afterthought #77—Ferry Haiku

My “thing for ferries” surged again this month when the Summer 2018 Washington State Ferries Schedule arrived on the vessels (and online). The state agency frequently sponsors contests for artwork on the schedule cover, and the 2018 search was for a haiku. This short, Japanese verse form is ideal for the space on the schedule cover, and I was delighted there would be such a poem this year. With a print run of over 985,000 schedules, selected art is seen by loads of people.

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 12.33.29 PMThis wasn’t a typical writing competition, though. Entrants were to post submissions to @wsferries on Twitter so they could be reviewed by Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna. She narrowed the field to three submissions; the final selection was made via Twitter, #WSFHaiku.

The talented winner? Lisa Salisbury from Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA.

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Claudia Castro Luna (l) and Lisa Salisbury (r) – admiring a “large print” schedule

The dramatic black-and-white photo on the cover, taken by Douglas Treuting, is of Wasp Passage off Shaw Island.

 

 

Lisa SalisburyI had the pleasure of meeting Lisa at the recent Chuckanut Writers Conference and to congratulate her in person. She’s a Friday Harbor School librarian with over twenty years of experience in education. And clearly, she’s a fine poet, too. I told Lisa about my upcoming stint as Writer-in-Residence on the Interisland Ferry, and I can imagine some collaboration with her in the future. I’m sure we’ll talk about it when we schedule a time to get together—on the ferry!

Congratulations Lisa and Douglas, and thanks, Washington State Ferries.

 

*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.

*Afterthought #76—Sound Advice

Last month’s Afterthought offered my reflections on road sign guidance I received while traveling in the UK. I’m still reviewing and sorting my photos from that trip, and I’m delighted by all the sound advice I found posted on buildings, walls, streets, shelves, and T-shirts.

So. To end this month, I offer you a few images of wisdom from England and Wales. I think they speak for themselves, but I welcome your interpretations.

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*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.

*Afterthought #75—Guidance from the Road

This month’s Afterthought has travelled a long way, as I’m part way through a trip to England. It’s my first time in the UK, and the introduction has been especially rich as it’s included a conference with the international group Quakers Uniting in Publications (QUIP) and a tour of the “the cradle of Quakerism.”

My travels are giving me a lot to think about, so perhaps this is more a forethought than an afterthought. But, this last-day-of-the- month post is brief as usual and was prompted by a road sign in the village of Grasmere in the Lake District of Northwest England.

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Much of my spiritual journey has focused on “giving way”—to the Divine, to the release of fear and worry, and to forces such as nature over which I have no control. Those acts of “giving way” challenge me.

These past few days, as I’ve sat in 17th C. meeting houses, walked through Quaker burial grounds, and read about early Quakers such as George Fox, Margaret Fell Fox, and many others who were persecuted for believing they had a direct connection with God, I’ve thought of their courage in not giving way to the Church of England and government. Of being able to carry the load of leading other seekers and putting their faith into action in ways that have endured for over 300 years.

However I look at it, though, the guidance to “give way” is good on the road, and in my heart.

*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.