Chasing Spring - Spoor on the Wind : LUSENET : The Garden : One Thread

Chasing Spring; The Spoor on the Wind

---------- Date: Thu, 06 Jun 2002 10:49:35 -0700 To: "Daniel C. Henklein" Subject: Command S, Connect, and other thoughts to live by

OK - we're going at it now, my friend. Just answer what you want, when you want. Please make it serve you, and your needs for clarifying thought that furthers your thesis work, your own thinking, and your sense of purpose and passion on the planet.

We've tapped into a spring here, and I'm advocating that we explore channelling it into our own singular purposes, and letting the mutuality of whatever becomes present grow on its own, without our self-conscious guidance.

I'm using our gift of time and connection to hang flesh on my ideas. I'm working on spelling, and complete sentences, and clear grammar and turns of phrase that hold and evoke more meaning than I have previously fit into my old habits of language. This takes time, but it is a worthwhile investment for me. I imagine you know what I mean - you're no stranger to taking on challenges that shape your character and result in cultural contribution.

I will also probably be reposting my letters to you in The Garden, for I like to look at the ideas there, without the cumbersome inflexibility of e-mail readers.

I'm appreciating, and looking forward to, comments from you on any topic that you find stimulated by our connection. It seems very rare to find this sort of space that you and I have stumbled upon - an oasis in a desert.

Yet it doesn't seem too fragile - though perhaps vulnerable to fits of obsession and other forms of passion - and I sense we both have the maturity and kindness to work through whatever those turn out to be.

So, onward!


On approximately 6/2/02 5:40 PM, Daniel C. Henklein at probably wrote:

> Biogeographical/palaeobotanical studies encourage a "God's-eye-view" where > one envisions vast forests of changing composition migrating across the > surface of continents. > I've had it. > That's why I was drawn to your novel senario. > But the thought that humans could somehow intervene in that and effect it is > a vanity.

I agree with you. Yet that's what *we* do - we have vanities. And the process of life disabuses us of them. But that really is optimally achieved through experience, and not its poor substitute, postulation.

So what I consciously decided to do with my story is pursue an ultimate conceit (the moving of forests), determining to suggest how - if such a thing were possible - it could be done, and in a manner that I could find reasonable, with only a minor dependence on magic, and a compelling beauty that I would desire strongly to live to see.

I don't trust the cultivation of a society guided by negativity and aversion from imagined unpleasant conditions. Even if it does consist of accurately pointing out all the problems, I just don't think that's conducive to a state of mind that's open to learning (unless it's in that rarefied arena of true scientific inquiry), and even then it better be in conjunction with some serious - I mean SERIOUS - joy-making-juice.

> And global warming is a strawdog.
> The ice age is what we have to worry about.
> The next ice age is due to kick in within 2500 years at the latest(or as
> soon as 250?).

In the largest context yes, that's probably true. But one could as easily have said, 100 years ago (for that's less than half of the "250" figure given as your "as soon as") or so, that one might as well not worry about winter, because the Ice Age was coming, and it would be a lot colder then.

Insert - 6/17/02-
Prototista's Red Sky At Morning, addresses this. In a past note, you'd asked what Complexity Science was. Alder, of Prototista defines Complexity;

I bring it up, because I will use this book to develop the language of complexity further, as it's being created by the writers in Prototoista's Bibliography, and seed the words into the vernacular by embodying them in the day-to-day activities of the characters as they work on these issues.
End Insert

It's the same with folk who are convinced of the coming Eschaton. Or like those people who don't mind nuclear annhilation because it will just hasten The Rapture. So why bother?

The idea of moving a forest in all its spurts and pieces would indicate a very different value system was in place than the one we have now. Just thinking about the *job* of doing this - planning it, like an immense relocation that can only take if it is in complete correspondence with natural laws (and especially when one's current accepted and available methodology is often antithetical to those laws) - is fascinating to me.

Imagine that some ones came to you and convinced you that they REALLY knew what was likely to happen with our future weather trends. What if they said "look, you're going to need to get x area of new land in y species within z years along the northern edges of this territory. These plants will flourish.

"You're also going to have to keep x area of land in y currently established species during this same period along the southern edge of the territory. These plants will not flourish, but if you hold the habitat range wide enough they will self-select for hardiness in the coming drought.

"These formulas are not exact, but they trend toward accuracy and, if constantly adjusted by the actual conditions, basins of attraction that hold to life-compatible moisture, elemental and temperature parameters can be identified, maintained and shifted when necessary.

"The weather is, at first, going to warm dramatically. Your southern edge plantings will die, except for those in systems that work well to stay organized through the external change. Your central plantings will adapt without too much intervention on your part - just keep the habitats viable and diverse, and keep the migration channels open.

"Try not to make the vectors exclusively human, though that will be the tendency. Maintaining the purity of species strains is advisable within the limits of an expedient use of energy.

"Your mid-northern plantings will be the most complex in the early stages, for this is the active edge that will be changing very rapidly and where human use is far advanced, leading to easier notice through fluctuating economic indicators. It is where the water will leave first, as the rainfall declines, and where the ice will come next, and most rapidly.

"The complexities of human habitation and resource extraction, regional economics and government, water use, species populations, etc. all rapidly changing under the pressures of climate flux, will complicate specific plans to an incalculable degree, primarily through regulatory, commercial and geo-political structure manipulations, so multiple generalized flows for the underlying botanical changes must be stimulated and maintained simultaneously.

"Use the existing parks, wilderness, purposefully aligned private land hyolders, and legislatively protected areas as your migration map. Connect the dots between these garden beds and pools, and spend energy on strategic acquisition of the connecting pathways. "Acquisition" should *not* focus on ownership/control, but should instead be achieved through treaty-style agreeements and other tools that allow for co-operation, co-habitation, co-existence.

"Use all existing commercial transportation corridors - roads, rivers, railways, etc. - as "planting strips" that walk species up and down into the migratory pools as the spirit moves them. Plan for the incorporation of all extant production facilities - nurseries, institutions, farms, gardens - into the general map, to the greatest extent possible.

"Understand that your agriculture has just grown to continent and latitudinal-band scales; your time frame has just shifted from seasonal year/drought-market cycles to working planetary rhythms that fall within the envelope of your capacity to maintain true genetic diversity.

"You are once again approaching the level of working with *worlds* - trans-global levels of energy and functional dimension - that were once understood and maintained by peoples long ago. Your language is different, your tools new - but they are still analogues - no, anilogues - to the previous pattern shapers and you'll find a lot of correspondence with them.

"They will be keys to your cipher. You will not move the forest without them.


So, this is sort of the bed of my story. There's a LOT of detail to flesh out. There's a lot of correction to make.

The papers you sent have both informed me. I wasn't sure what area I was going to focus on and you sent me a map. I wasn't sure of what tools I was going to use to carry forward the scientific material that corroborates the mystery. You sent me the beech story.

You ask good questions. You make good points...

> We are still in the Pleistocene, in an interglacial.
> Modern humans evolved during the last ice age and survived on the megafauna.
> Interglacials last from 10,000 to 15,000 years.
> The glacials can last to 30,000 years. >
During the Ice age the northern half of North America and all of Europe will
> be icebound, the Great Plains (breakbasket) and Ukraine (breadbasket) will
> be tundra. The Amazonian Rainforests will retreat to ridgelines and the
> basins will become grasslands. > > The Europeans will say, "Hi Libya! We're coming down! We know you've got > plenty of room there in the SAHARA, and then with us THERE, y'all can move > on into that wonderfully productive belt the SAHEL! It's really going to be > a FUN 30,000 years!"

It's a sobering scenario. And it's one I want to describe. I think you've got one very real potential here. It's definitely one that people will be considering. Already I can imagine real estate agents pouring over the maps, speculating where the next generational value lies.

I'm going to put the standard responses - fearful *and* proactive - to GWarming on a continuum and try to illustrate several of them. Part of my message needs to be that fearful responses are less likely to net overall health.

As you continue to reply with caveats and elaborations, I'll work to incorporate them. > > The Americans and Canadians will say, "Hi Mexico!...."
> You get the picture...

But not before the Mexicans have said "Hi Canada!..."

> > The ice age will dramatically reduce the carrying capacity of the planet.

A voluntary population reduction is well underway, and has been for forty years. Persons like you and I, with foresight, recognizing that we would have been extremely well suited to produce offspring - genetically and temperamentally compatible, we would have taken our ova and sperm and stored them, logging our intent to produce children based on our sense of the rightness of it.

That log would become a new form of marriage bond, symbolizing the commitment two people felt to the potential arrayed between them. Multiple bonds would be possible, complete with all the distorted BS that could accompany such a thing.

Some of us would live to see the day when our accomplishments would earn us the right/merit reward to have those children consumated, as a material reward for good work, similar to the MacArthur Grant, or a Nobel Prize (but much less rare). Others of us might not learn of this in time, but we'd know that the chance/hope was there.

Barlow's dream of "being a good ancestor" would become the dream of all of us, regardless of whether or not we'd borne children in our life time (I have not. I wish I had).

> And now with the mega fauna extinct, humans will have nothing to live on.

Our diets will be changing dramatically. We'll become much more focused on creating the ATP bonds in our personal chemistry, and the processing and metabolization of glucose, and the maintenance of healthy cells, than we will on representing the industrial version of a "good dinner".

We (some of us - the practical ones) will generate as much food value in our own arenas as possible. Hold outs for the starch and dairy inducing opiate-peptides will face their own economic censorship unless contexted properly in a self-reliant setting, as such foods (and more likely their imitations) result in further degradation of the robust network of de-centralized food distribution.

Many will die of malnourishment and food-related disease, yet be completely unaware of the cause. Many will obviously die of such things, and the large scale institutional solutions to these problems will continue to exacerbate, rather than help matters. The ongoing argument between compassionate people who want to help - who try but fail due to old-paradigm processes - and compassionate people who try with new-paradigm self-organizing, self-reliant principles, is one argument that I want to illustrate.

I land on the side of the new-paradigm self-reliance models, and will spend text time illustrating those as fully as I can.

> > Which won't matter anyway because there are too many of us. >

Yep. And the population will be changing.

> Those deciduous species you want to hand-plant in the Yukon will find refugia in Louisiana.

Well, they'll be happy for awhile in Sasketchewan.

> > Humans will ultimately resort to cannibalism as we devolve from democracy to > empire > kingdom > feudalism > warlordism > tribalism > savagery.

Oh, yes, are we going to go here....

> But seriously, considering human's reactive and not proactive nature, and the tendency to sleepwalk and live in denial, what are the chances of doing ANYTHING?

Well, that is the interesting equation, isn't it?

> > Ignorance is bliss.
> Too much knowledge can be too great a burden to shoulder without succumbing to madness.

Which is why we are mad.

> > Hope I haven't overly depressed you.

What do you think? Do I look depressed?

> > Creating a sustainable society is the GREATEST CHALLENGE for Humanity in the coming century and millenium.
> To believe that is the natural outgrowth of believing the end-game senario outlined above.

Well, yes...So some minds at least should put themselves to the task of critically thinking through what that would look like. Trolling the Web yields a stupendous amount of information on the effort. My story is just one of many meta-tales currently being concocted on lots of different levels that attempt to incorporate this vast human-dreaming-project we're currently engaged in. : : : : : : : : : : : : :: : : : : : : :

-- Anonymous, June 17, 2002


Creating a sustainable society:

I've spent a lot of years on this one. My first publication - a Zine when I was 19 years old - was called "Beyond Survival", and explained the basics of nuclear power to people. I didn't talk just about fission; I talked about fusion. I described what we thought we knew, and who thought they knew it, and who was likely to do what - for commercial or political purposes - with what was then known, or could be easily known.

I wasn't "anti-nuke". I was anti-stupidity.

As I take on the challenge of Chasing Spring, and see the need to write some every day, no matter what, I determine to paint on its bones a bit here, and use these meanderings to carry the flow and see what grows on its banks. I suppose this is (hopefully) a literary riparian zone, and I'm calling down rain.

Sustainable societies are not what I want to talk about yet. Sustainable societies are the RESULT, the EFFECT, of other systems working well. To try and describe a sustainable human society without having experienced one (or at least agreed that THAT'S what I'm experiencing) seems out of my range.

Lots of people talk about sustainable society, and they do it without benefit of the understanding we can gain from the most sustainable and stable society on our planet - that of plants. What I'd like to do is describe the world that I would actually see if I was actually engaged in a massive project like moving a forest.

I'd like to describe it, as well, from the POV of people who are deeply embroiled in the Being of Humans.

I want to use strong science - describing real places - illustrating real processes, poetically AND accurately. I want first-hand accounts of natural systems. I want the layers of our cutting edge understandings present. I want the social and political context to reflect what I see happening/trending in the world around me, as well as the subtle realms below and above me.

I don't want to be overwhelmed by the scope of the project.

A few days ago, I was describing parts of Chasing Spring to one of my best friends, and I said:

"I really want to offer a hopeful vision about how we can get through this ecological catastrophe unfolding before us."

She looked sad and a little cynical. "Yeah, I know. But there's really no hope, you know. We're on a collision course..."

"I know that," I said. "But I really want to work on describing how we might just pull up in time. I want to explore how that could actually be done, SOMEWHERE, maybe by just a few little someones. I'm not saying it WILL be enough, but hell, we don't even have a single realistic vision of how we MIGHT do it..."

She now looked distressed. "But we can't do it" she said. "We're really too far gone."

I looked her straight on. "I know you THINK that. You might even KNOW that. But that can't be the message we give to the children. We've got to think of a zillion ways out of the mess. We've got to make up the stories that give people hope. We've got to make them as real as we can make them. What else IS there to do?"


I think I need to develop a "thesis" for my book so that I can work this from a practical angle.

I think I should develop a thread for this, separate, and begin to let it evolve. I'll value input. I don't want to be rigorous with the Thesis model, but I think it's useful. Some principles I'd like to adhere to:

1. Use the materials at hand - for example, you've sent me your paper on the beeches, and the Big Basin story. That has a range implied. You've said you're interested in my story, and that you want to be IN it. No matter what happens - until you disappear from view completely - I'm not going to let you out of that.

2. Base the story in the material world, not social hypotheses - It was always my plan to start Chasing Spring down in the southern regions of our Continent. I want to open the book with images of the heat, and the dryness - the dust - I want to feel and evoke the nuances of a world that has little water, and where everything grows as a function of water, and everything is the story of water.

I was always taken with Herbert's "Dune", but he didn't spend enough time in the WORLD of that world for me. The story was too human, too political, and not deeply enough into the full ecology of the land that included all the images of the way light worked, the way water worked, the way form worked, the way life WORKED in that place.

I loved how you described, in one of your earlier notes, the shadow of wind captured by sand. I want to use my words to make those distinctions accessible to people.

I think that if I can describe these things well, and keep people interested with enough juice through the human drama parts of it - the love, the labour, the conflict, the resolving, the pain of it all - then maybe these metaphors will sink in and be useful somewhere, when folks need them to get through the day. After all, I LIVE on the hope for Spring...

3. Remain systematic - tap the energy and channel it - So, I think I'll spend some time in these next few days and weeks trying to work more on what the structure of this will look like. I'll use the Interpreting Center (another thread I'll begin in the next day or so) as well, to practice the orientation of the POV in the story. Perhaps that can be the first POV, the first person of it, since I don't really have a main character yet, whose eyes are being used.

Regardless of how I FEEL, or what storms move me in their own tossing scree, the work always goes on. It never stops. It's what is left at the end of the day, and if there's not too much of me but there's something valuable that can sit and tell another story more interesting than MINE, then I'll be satisfied. Or not. But my satisfaction is not the point. The work is.

At the end of the day, what more do we have?

: : : : Cynthia: : : : :

-- Anonymous, June 17, 2002

July 2, 2002

So, in the name of Art, and the work of Letters, I was wondering if you two could have a conversation for me when you're out There this week.

Maybe you'll find a few minutes, punctuated with the Malbec, to ponder the crazy idea I have about Chasing Spring. What I REALLY wish is that I could be there with you two, and tackle some of the core ideas. I'd love to have you tug them apart, and see what were the loosest strings in the fabric.

I'm very interested in hearing why parts of this won't work, or why it's a "bad" idea, as well as why it's a "good" idea, and how it might work. It will be done, in some form or other - piecemeal; coordinated; half-assed; passionately. It's already being done by default, as commercial operations are now buying up large tracts of northern land for more forestation (with absolutely NO thought given to species choice beyond commercial viability), while conservation societies and NGOs are tackling lots of individual land/planet-oriented issues. The All Species Inventory is officially convened. The US Climate Action Report of 2002 is out. The 21st Century is going to be different than the 20th.

So, what I'M interested in now is what people - rangers and ecologists like yourselves - would do if someone said to you: "OK, we've been asked to set up a comprehensive 100-200 year plan for creating corridors and contiguous niches for species systems to travel more fluidly - and to encourage their travel/survival - as the weather and soil changes". Is this the best description for what's being done? Are there other ways to describe it, ways that are even currently being used or fantasized about?

I've been thinking about my language and I'm shifting from saying "moving the forest northward", (even though it's a really simple way to grasp it, and I'll probably always use it with caveats), since that applies so much "active volition" and instead I now frame it as facilitating the growth of habitat base (we've lost so much; even one-to-one replacement would be impossible) along the most strategic avenues that take into account templates we can see emerging relevant to water, weather, human population, land ownership, and even regulations (imagine how hard certain APHIS regs and genetic patenting could make things. I'll add these complexities later, judiciously, after I get the basic howness of it down.)

It's kind of like when Kennedy said "We WILL go to the moon." He brought together a whole lot of people who said it couldn't be done. And then his teams asked them why. And then they solved for those problems - things like "there is no metal strong enough to do that." OK - so make one. "We don't know how." OK - so figure it out - etc.

I wonder what would happen if our Forest Service and BLM and other land/resource supportive organizations of public service/terran service (dare we hope? - a Terran Service Organization? how's that for a fantasy??) actually managed for these larger commons? I suppose the whole thing behind Chasing Spring was the suggestion that maybe a problem like Global Warming might be what's needed to get everybody on the same page for the parameters that systems would need to be optimized in.

Money's no object. What's important is being VERY SMART about it, and using what we know at huge scales, and being CONSISTENT about it across all phases of the project. I'm primarily interested in the actual physical work of it. I don't care at this point about the political problems, or the societal ones, or the commercial barriers, or the regulatory problems.

At this point I'm just interested in how the physical work of it would actually go. For the sake of a simplified understanding initially, I'm making the assumption that all governments are supportive; all private land holders are supportive; there's plenty of human power; whatever infrastructure is needed - nurseries, water (fun applications of appropriate tech are possible here), artificial habitat (sun shades for our froggy friends?) - can be created. The trick now is knowing what's needed.

I was thinking about what you said about deserts. I asked the question, somewhat rhetorically, "how does one plant a desert?" You replied: "you don't"

I think about the Nile, and your crocs. I think about the gardens of the Sahara. I think about a desert as a slow wildfire across the land that burns water, and all the water that gets burned just causes more water to get burned, until all the species have worked out storage and allocation, and there's no more "fat of the land", no more water to nurture excess, only deep and abiding cooperation and a true rejoicing in rain...

Anyhow, those are my meanders on this Tuesday afternoon. I hope you're having fun. Wish I were there!


-- Anonymous, July 02, 2002

You said:

>But the established one's didn't most of the time: they shifted slowly, imperceptibly. That's what is SCARY. REMEMBER the SOILS.

Exactly! I'm acquainted peripherally with a pretty remarkable soil scientist at OSU/Corvallis (did you go to school there?) named Elaine Ingham.

I'll probably be using her work to form the basis of my description of soils and their dynamics.

I hadn't even THOUGHT of the temperature change effects on the soils, nor their effects on the planted species, and how they'll be compensating as well - probably makes a good case for considering how biota might adapt (or be encouraged to adapt) together...

What I hope to do is show how remarkable it is that we get life at all. I intend to write an optimistic and plausible scenario but I don't intend to make the work look easy. In fact, I intend to make it so complex that readers may even grok the delicate balance of it all, and the absolute impossiblity of recreating fully what nature does.

I intend to make it optimistic because that's the only way I'll get a certain kind of reader to consider the possibility. When I describe the various styles of replanting - BLM, private foresters, Reclamation!, other new orgs, and my gaia-tribe iconoclasts with their mysterious success (while the others fail) - I hope the point is made that it's much better to not fuck it up in the beginning, period, than it is to try (or have to) fix it.

I think we're on the same page here. I know you'll have an impact on me over time. It will be interesting to see if associating with you causes me to lose interest or hope in my story.

Maybe you'll convince me that there's no hope, and that our species is a stupid one, at the end of its rope, and not worth any sort of massive unified effort to try and mitigate some of the damage we've done. What do you think?

>Soils are the product of millenia of evolution: of co-evolution with the plants they support. The developments of soils and vegetation are determined by the same set of environmental factors: parent material (lithic substrate), time, climate, relief (topography), and organisms (micro-, plants, and animals [including humans!])"

I have some wonderful ethnologist interviews done with the Tsalagi/Cherokee Indians back in the 1800's. There are great stories about the plants, and their relations with people. The metaphors are very rich. You've made me think that perhaps there will be some story fuel here.

A friend of mine was just in the store yesterday, talking about how his seed development was focusing on the Five Brothers and the Three Sisters. That's probably another good guideline to import - the Alliances of those different seed families are really the key landraces picked out by native peoples' - it will be interesting to see what other relatives they have.

Gee, I wish I had a lot more time...:-) someday...

>"Soils and vegetation evolve concurrently under the influence of all these factors. You cannot necessarily take a deciduous tree that has developed in a soil that has developed in a warm-temperate climate and move it to(or try to grow it in) a soil that has developed in a cool-temperate climate. Even if the cool-temperate climate has suddenly changed to a warm temperate climate in our lifetimes."

Very important point! So niches will be that much trickier to identify, won't they? It will be really fun to come up with scenarios that illustrate all the reasons for failure, and then that will make the successes even that much more special.

OK - back to reality.

:) : : : : :

-- Anonymous, July 02, 2002

I never read Dune. I read the "Santaroga Barrier". Perhaps we can discuss it sometime over a horn of zeiss. Dune we can EXPERIENCE.

-- Anonymous, June 18, 2002

Yes, Aaron Heller is a Ranger (he's on the psych-crisis team). He is Ranger Percival. I was already TipiDan or I'd be Galahad. ;) Aaron has a degree in political science. Now he works with troubled youth. Occassionally we discuss Malthus and suuch but anything he knows about ecology he learned from me (especially about this area).

Remember the "Bureau of Reclaimation"? BAD idea. "Reclaiming" the desert! The very idea!

There are global patterns at work here, patterns laid down over thousands of years since the last ice age. You are right they are shifting: perhaps so fast that we will be able to perceive the shift.

But the established one's didn't most of the time: they shifted slowly, imperceptibly. That's what is SCARY. REMEMBER the SOILS. Soils are the product of millenia of evolution: of co-evolution with the plants they support. The developments of soils and vegetation are determined by the same set of environmental factors: parent material (lithic substrate), time, climate, relief (topography), and organisms (micro-, plants, and animals [including humans!])

Soils and vegetation evolve concurrently under the influence of all these factors. You cannot necessarily take a deciduous tree that has developed in a soil that has developed in a warm-temperate climate and move it to(or try to grow it in) a soil that has developed in a cool-temperate climate. Even if the cool-temperate climate has suddenly changed to a warm temperate climate in our lifetimes.

I'm leaving for the park tomorrow. I'll pick out some postcards for you.

;>(: Dan

-- Anonymous, July 02, 2002

Tell me about the Tsalagi, I know nothing. I'm supposed to be some tiny part native American on my paternal great grandmother's side. Connecticut and southeastern NY is Algonquian. Our area is the ancestral homeland of the Mahican (Mohegan, Mohican) and I'd love to think I have a bit of that...

What linguistic group were the Tsalagiand or Cherokee? Were they Algonguian? I don't think so.

With me, you may loose some of your hopes for plant adaptability but gain some greater hopes for human adaptability. We're designed for crises like the one you (and me and others) envision. We can eat anything and can move anywhere. The garden may fail but I bet the Gaian tribe survives in ways that will surprise you.

%P Dan

There is always hope where two humans (and maybe a fuzzy puddy) can snuggle. I have to put my Buboo in the feline Hilton for 5 days tomorrow. Poor Buboo.

-- Anonymous, July 02, 2002

Moderation questions? read the FAQ