Photo credit, Mitchell Clute
I've been bathing in moonbeams. Just the other day, I looked up into the bright afternoon sky and there it was in all its glory. Just like the song I sang as a child, the "bright and shiny moon" was shining down on me, but in the middle of the day. The dark side of the moon was visible too, lurking in the shadow behind. I never saw the moon like this before. It appeared ripe, as if it was pregnant. The sight aroused a quickening deep inside me. It was so big, I imagined myself reaching up to pluck it right out of the sky. A visceral "heavenly body" experience is a blessing beyond measure.
In just a few more days, the Super Blue Blood Moon was upon us. I awakened early the morning of January 31st to see the partial eclipse moving swiftly towards the unveiling of the entire radiant orb just before it set. Watching this celestial wonder unfold filled me with awe while I contemplated the State of the Union, the State of the World. The shadow of Earth on the Moon helped me to clarify, we are moving through a dark time, full of uncertainty and fear. But the shadow play cleared the way for beauty to re-emerge and we can too. This chaos is necessary because it is stimulating a potent healing response. We are living through a massive paradigm shift and at this point, there is no way out but through.
This cosmic event was double lucky for me since the full moon takes a full twenty four hour period. I was given another gift early this morning when I awakened again and saw my first "moon bow." I sat in the rainbow of moonbeams for a while and allowed myself to be overwhelmed by feelings of well being and gratitude. What an miraculous universe we share! Let's get down to the business of seeing ourselves as one Earth family and taking care of our beautiful garden. We can expand beyond our differences by focusing on what binds us together. Ponder this. Trees and plants eat the sun and manufacture oxygen for us to breathe. Along with us, countless non-human others, the four-leggeds, winged ones and crawling creatures return the favour by exhaling. This is our priceless inheritance and we must rise above these human centred conflicts and work together to preserve it. Humans are responsible for many of the problems Earth faces, while we are also the only ones who can provide the solution. The whole world is waiting in breathless beauty for us.
Otter, one eye open, one shut. Maybe it's a sidelong glance, incredulous at the audacity. According to the powers that be at Oxford Children's Dictionary, otter and other nature words have been removed from the dictionary saying they "do not hold any relevance for modern day childhood." Otter is accompanied into oblivion by other nature words: acorn, almond, apricot, ash, beaver, beech, beetroot, blackberry, bluebell, boar, bramble, brook, buttercup, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, cheetah, chestnut, clover, colt, conker, cowslip, crocus, cygnet.
There are so many; dandelion, doe, drake, fern, ferret, fungus, gooseberry, hazel, hazelnut, heather, heron, herring, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, porcupine, porpoise, raven, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.
Also: lavender, leek, melon, mint, mistletoe, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, poppy, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow.
Ok, I understand. Language evolves too, just like everything else. Some words don't make it into the lexicon of the future. They become extinct. But, dandelion? Doesn't every child need to know that word? How else can they research the joy of blowing off the wisps and watching them float away, landing who knows where? What will be their reference as they imagine the effortless sowing of those seeds so more of these playful weeds emerge next season? Death in a dictionary evoked dread in me. Dread that the eliminated words were the next casualties of hundreds of plants and animals that are going extinct every day. I fear this dictionary death forebodes The Sixth Extinction, the one caused by us that is occurring right now, the biggest one since the dinosaurs went by the wayside 65 million years ago.
The Oxford Children's Dictionary replacement words are the likes of allergic, analog, Blackberry (yes, same word but the Blackberry with buttons!) boisterous, blog, conflict, chatroom, classified, compulsory, creep, cut+paste, database, donate, dyslexic, MP3 player, vandalism and voicemail. Call me old-fashioned, but I like the former words much better. The replacement words spark images of our children sitting in front of screens inside the house, manipulating keyboards and buttons alone while becoming obese.
This nature word purge happened way back in 2007 and the controversy is still gaining momentum. As reported in the Guardian, 28 authors, including Margaret Atwood, Michael Morpurgo and Robert Macfarlane, wrote to the publisher to warn that the decision to cut around 50 words connected with nature and the countryside from the 10,000-entry children’s dictionary, is “shocking and poorly considered” in the light of the decline in outdoor play for today’s children. They are calling on publisher Oxford University Press to reverse its decision. There have also been a string of online petitions about it. The latest one on Change.org www.change.org/p/oxford-university-press-nature-related-words-should-be-reinstated-in-the-junior-oxford-english-dictionary has been signed by over 190,000 people. That is the only silver lining that I see in this cloud. Thousands of people are passionately opposed to it.