by Andrew Taylor-Troutman
The peepers are making a mating racket in the pond. These frogs make the sound of life wanting more life. Of procreation as vivid and earthy as the mud from which they chant.
Yet, it is too early in the year to hear them.
A weather event is an unseasonably warm day in late January. Climate change is reflected in animals mating weeks, even months, earlier than a couple of decades ago. A friend recently remembered the “blizzard” of 2000, when twenty-two inches of snow marooned him at the Carolina Inn with the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League. Again, a weather event is an outlier. But the temperature was consistently colder at the turn of the last millennium. The pond in my neighborhood would have been frozen. The frogs would not be making noise.
Walking past the pond, I hear the chorus of peepers, not as the promise of spring but rather as a kind of death toll. I despair.
In his book “Consolations,” poet David Whyte defines despair as “a necessary and seasonal state of repair.” He describes an escape to a mindset we inhabit when “we have not yet found the new form of hope.” I despair for my children’s future as well as my children’s children and all life on this planet, both human and nonhuman, whose existence hangs in the balance.
Yet Whyte claims, “We take our first steps out of despair by taking on its full weight and coming fully to ground. We let our bodies and we let our world breathe again.” He believes this breathing can move us out of despair into some other season of mind.
I continue to walk past the pond and into the woods, leaving the peepers behind. The woods are quiet in that lovely way of theirs. The forest floor is soft from the previous night’s rain. I inhale the smell of rotting leaves and wood, which reminds me that, like the seasons, death and life are cycles.
The cry of a red-tailed hawk pierces the silence. Another cry answers. One raptor streaks over the canopy, followed by another. The birds circle the air as their ancestors have done for countless millennia. The climate is changing, yet they are still flying. As another poet famously said, “Hope is a thing with feathers.”
-Andrew Taylor-Troutman (firstname.lastname@example.org)