We continue to eat leftovers and live very full.
Today, we climbed up on the roof to rake up the pine needles of which there were many. The view from there is amazing and I kept circling around to enjoy the green, and the feeling of looking down upon a world that I enjoy but which seems smaller when seen from above.
I also spent a great deal of time pruning a small tree and bamboo. Then, we made turkey soup from our long-simmered turkey stock.
I was looking at the December National Geographic today and was surprised by some of the statistics on religion. It seems that "Christianity is on the rise in Africa, China, and Russia, while Islam grows in Europe."
33% of the people in the world are Christians, 21% Muslims, 14% Nonbelievers, 13% Hindus, 12% Other, and 6% Buddhists. The United States is 82% Christian, 2% Muslim, 12% Nonbelievers, 1% Hindu, 1% Other, 1% Buddhist, and 2$ Jewish. 50% of Chinese are currently non-believers. There is also an article on Bethlehem and how it is now. It is hard to believe there can be so much dissension when religion speaks of peace.
Barry Lopez has an essay on Cold Scapes. There are magnificent pictures. Here is an excerpt from his essay.
Over several decades of travel, I have often met people who were profoundly intimate with the places in which they lived. Usually they were hunters, hunter-gatherers, subsistence farmers, or pastoralists, people who had to know precisely where they were, physically, all the particulars of it, if they were going to keep their preferred way of life intact. In conversation, I found the fine points they were attuned to fascinating, but more so the pattern of their knowledge, their skill at arranging myriad details in a pattern that could be recognized, remembered, and put to use. It is exhilarating to encounter knowledge this intimate. Most of us in the modern world have nothing to compare with it, except a working knowledge of the infrastructure of our own highly technical civilization. To see and appreciate, to be immersed for a lifetime in patterns that are not of your own making, that is a different order of things.
My guess would be that somebody someday will trace the roots of modern human loneliness to a loss of intimacy with place, to our many breaks with the physical Earth. We are not out there much anymore. Even when we are, we are often too quick to take things in. A member of the group who insists on lingering is "holding everyone else up." I think about this kind of detachment from the physical world frequently, because human beings, generally, seem to long for a specific place, a certain geography that gives them a sense of well-being.
When I was traveling regularly in the Arctic, I routinely asked Yupik, Inupiat, and Inuit how they characterized people from the civilization of which I was a part. "Lonely" was a response I heard with discomfiting frequency. The cure for loneliness, I have come to understand, is not more socializing. It's achieving and maintaining close friendships. The trust that characterizes that kind of friendship allows one to be vulnerable, to discuss problems that resist a solution, for example, without having to risk being judged or dismissed. I bring this up because the desire I experience most keenly, when I travel in landscapes like the ones made so evocative here, is for intimacy. I have learned that I will not experience the exhilaration intimacy brings unless I become vulnerable to that place, unless I come to a landscape without judgments, unless I trust that the place is indifferent to me. The practice I strive for when I travel is to meet the land as if it were a person. To encounter it as if it were as deep in its meaning as a human personality. I wait for it to speak. And wait. And wait.
- Barry Lopez