Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

What thrilled me reading this story was the range of the premise and the extent of the the kick-ass protagonist’s character arc.  In 2788, because her immune system can’t survive anywhere other than Earth, 17 year old Jarra’s particular prison is the whole dang planet, and her cultural prison is the new bigotry that has arisen ever since the portal allowed humans, except the one in a thousand like Jarra, to live on any of a multitude of settled planets. So Jarra’s struggle to stretch and be accepted as a full human being starts out with a tremendous potential scope, which immediately stretches the reader.

Jarra’s standing up to cultural intolerance and prejudice is played out against a panoramic background of everyday interstellar travel. When Jarra secretly joins a class of norms from many different human cultures, who are on earth for history studies that include excavating New York City, the contemporary reader is catapulted into Jarra’s time with the anchor of a familiar place made strange.  Fascinating archeology, eye-opening treatment of disability, a marvelous shero, and omg, not a dystopia, thank you Janet Edwards. This is speculative fiction as I love it, offering a story that compels, in a universe I have never before imagined.

Birds on the Mountain

 

Not far from Mars Hill, NC, Big Bald Banding Station is located at 5390 feet above sea level on Little Bald Mountain, open vistas on all sides. The morning was cool as 14 of us walked the half mile up to where a lone volunteer bander had been working since dawn. The southern Appalachian Mountains serve as an important flyway for many neotropical songbirds as they migrate from breeding grounds in northern U.S. and Canada to their winter habitat in Central and South America. During September and October, volunteers of Southern Appalachian Raptor Research operate mist nets daily at Big Bald Banding Station. Captured birds are fitted with a U.S. Bird Banding Lab metal leg band, measured, assessed for health condition and then released unharmed. An average of ~2000 songbirds are captured, banded and safely released each autumn migration at Big Bald.

On this Sunday morning, the volunteer bander had set up the mist nets, and on a regular schedule, she had extracted, banded, documented, and released each bird that had flown into a filmy net.On this windy morning, when more leaves than birds were caught in the nets, that number during the time we were there was six. When we arrived, in her hand was a stunning yellow-bellied sapsucker.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

When it came time to release it, the youngest among us got the honor.IMG_3419

Afterwards, we followed the bander to the nets and watched her carefully extract five more: an oven bird, a tufted titmouse, and three warblers (a bay breasted, a palm warbler, and a black-throated blue). We helped remove leaves from the nets and one of us volunteered to scribe data for her. Some of us, including me, got to hold a bird for the magic moment of release.

When the bay breasted warbler rested between my fingers, my other hand flat beneath it, I felt no weight at all. But when I opened my grip, and it took flight, I experienced the exquisite touch of its feathers brushing my hand. Life! Ephemeral, magnificent, fragile, and precious!

Through oak and poplar, wind

cracks the whip!

No human noise. Only

on top of the mountain,

close clouds,

fast! Across

blue jewel sky,

beauty

sweeps me clean.

c. Susa Silvermarie 2013

Bay-breasted Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler (Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn Congruence

Autumn Congruence podcast

 

Even in geometry I liked it,

the fitting of figures

such a sleek thing, I wanted

to stroke the lines

of the shapes on the page.

At sixty-six, I fit myself.

 

From a tribal line, the figures

slide to coincide.

Ancestors dance

down through my skin

in a pageant of One, a divine parade

that makes me who I am.

 

My layers and lives

construct dimensions,

with nothing sticking out

to trip me up, so I can skip

and laugh across my autumn.

Congruence grants me grace.

(c) Susa Silvermarie 2013

On the mountain_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taking Ourselves in Our Arms

In Soul on Earth, a guide to Living and Loving Your Human Life, Ruth L. Schwartz, Ph.D. channels material from her spirit guides, much as Jane Roberts did in the 70’s with her Seth books. Ruth’s guidance on the nature of reality and the challenges of personal transformation are equally profound, and she goes an appreciable step further by demonstrating the material with stories and shamanic journeys from her personal life. I appreciate that candor and integration.

I also appreciate the author’s ongoing suggestions of ways to ask my own guides for assistance in various areas, and, her laying out of questions to ask myself in order to clarify particular difficulties. She invites and smoothly draws the reader on through her 352 pages. As she writes of how to dissolve our personal resistances to life and how to align ourselves with our unique design, her tone is comforting and compassionate, her viewpoint coherent and reasonable, her insights incisive and often startling.

Here is a sample of her voice from Chapter 15, The True Locus of Transformation: We must understand that any of these inner movements actually enacts the violence we deplore, and that even the deploring can become a kind of violence against the violence. So we must instead take the violence—both “our own”, and that of others—in our arms like a wailing and difficult baby. We must take ourselves in our arms this way, and our whole disturbed and disturbing, difficult and confused species.

The book bears out Ruth Schwartz’s description of herself as a “shamanic teacher and practitioner, writer and professor with a passion for personal transformation in the service of global change.” As a book that nourishes, Soul on Earth is a book to return to again and again.51vrVkxTWjL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_