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We have arrived at the Equinox again, when our local star appears to circle the earth's equator. This is a time of speedy sunsets and a twilight that creeps in earlier day by day. To compare, back on July 23rd in Yellowknife it was 18 hours, 15 minutes and a few seconds, but today, September 23, it's only 12 hours and 17 minutes. On December 23rd, there will be only 4 hours and 57 minutes of light in the city, and most of that will be better defined as "twilight". Old Sol can barely haul himself above the horizon in December, peaking around at a mere 27 degrees.
The seasons change with emphasis in the North. It's time for that last big hustle of animals, birds and those humans who still take much of their living from the land to stash what they need in fat and fur in order to get through the coming winter. So things have been in the NWT for a very long time, through ebbs and flows which the First Nation's noted as feast or famine. Now, here in 2019, it's become obvious that the old cycles are in flux.
The Northwest Territories are warming at 3x the global rate. The worst warming is during winter/spring so now the traditional ice roads become passable later and turn to mud--or water--much sooner than they used to. The permafrost is thawing, knocking over homes and emptying lakes. The permafrost melt water contains carbons and many other chemicals which have been locked and stored within for thousands of years. Today these are entering the Arctic Ocean at ever increasing rates, changing the chemistry of the sea water. This will eventually affect not only the red blood denizens of the landscape--mammals, birds, fish--and the green/red plant photosynthesizers with who knows what consequences.
On the Arctic coasts and along riverbanks there is greater erosion because, due to the activities of liquid water, they are suddenly in a new, ice-free world. At the same time, new species are arriving from the south; the moose and caribou and the Jack Pine forests alike are sickened by year round insect infestations. It all reminds me of that old advertisement (for margarine?) where a voice, accompanied by wind, thunder & lightning and summoned by a wave of an angry mother goddesses' hand, declares: "It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature."
Never mind, on we go, miraculously alive on this uniquely welcoming planet, spinning on our way around the sun. We're heading into the dark times if we are in the northern hemisphere, or moving into spring and new life if we live in the southern one. We'll be doing the things human beings do every day as we scuttle around, busy, busy, busy! Inside the confines our global cultural shell, we sometimes don't see the big changes, at least, not until water fills up our basement.
Down south of the Canadian border, I rejoiced to see another new thing on Friday last--young people in the streets, carrying signs and asking for some real thoughtful science to be put to the task of dealing with what are the genuine, speedily escalating problems which threaten our world. I was so HAPPY to see those kids out there beside me, full of anger and ideas and so full of hope that they can save our beautiful planet in all its wonder and diversity--as well as themselves.
Their presence made me want to take some time away from "Mundania" to reflect upon the great and holy mysteries inside the oldest stories. These are the ones mankind mustn't stop telling--the one about the beating heart of All-the-Waters hidden in the cold clean depths of Great Bear Lake or the one about the muskrat who "will be swimming," because she, though small and humble, is the one among all creatures who will be able to do Creator's bidding.
"We did not weave the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves. All things are bound together..." Chief Seattle.
and from the Christian Bible:
"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell within..." Psalm 24:1
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