My October journal brims with sleepless anxiety that mingles with the word “vote” in a myriad of ways. My scrawling handwriting threads, too, with the gifts of melt-in-your-mouth razor clams my friends dug on a beach where sunset clouds reflected in the incoming tide. At home, we gleaned the fields of Rainshadow Organics Farm with families reveling in the freshly dug carrot, the softball-sized onion, and multi-colored corn.

From a coastal journey, I was struck more than ever by autumnal migrations –of Chinook salmon returning up the North Umpqua River and Varied Thrushes flocking over Crater Lake.

Tuesday, November 3rd, is almost here. Let us not be afraid. Let us act for every beautiful species on this planet still left, even as the forces of destruction, power, and greed barrel forward.

Varied Thrush perched on a precipice above Crater Lake.

Let us take heart from people like my friend Jamie who drove (in an electric car) from the Oregon coast to Helena, Montana, to knock doors with his brother in single-digit temperatures for the good and honorable Governor Steve Bullock, who’s race for the U.S. Senate is critical.

I took heart on Saturday, October 17th, when my friend Sandra and I trekked south on the Oregon Coast, the day when hundreds of people gathered for the Women’s March in Newport and lined the streets of Yachats with signs of Black Lives Matter, of Kindness, of Science, of Love, of Biden-Harris, and RBG.

On that day, I jumped out of the truck in Newport to mail my bundle of handwritten letters to swing voters in Florida and Arizona–each one an offering of why I’m voting, each one a story of the time I wrote that letter, from the choking wildfire smoke of September to the wonder of carbon-storing ancient forests.

Inside the post office, two women in front of me carried bags of their Sierra Club letters, and I knew this was no accident. I’m part of an intricate and immense web–1.25 million of us that day mailed our letters from every state. If not for social distancing, I might have hugged them both. Instead, my eyes brimmed with tears and I could feel smiles beneath our masks.

Spider web lit by sunlight filtering through the ancient forest of Gwynn Creek

My acts are small compared to those who are knocking many doors, making hours and days of phone calls, writing letters and texts, and urging people to vote in this most important election of our lives. We are lucky in Oregon with our vote by mail system and ballot drop boxes that are close to home. A few days ago, I slipped my filled out and signed ballot into an official drop box in Bend and felt this rush of relief…done! I’m in awe of the people who are standing in lines for hours to vote early –in rain, wind, storm, and heat. Thank you.

I’ll close with a few anxious and hopeful offerings from my October journal, where I continue the practice of writing the date, a recollection, an aphorism, and a poem attempt (thank you poet Kim Stafford).

Tilting toward Hope

Dipper dance
Salmon spawn
Crane calls at dusk

Varied thrush casting
Molten sunlit feathers
Over Crater Lake

Bouquets of
Gray-crowned Rosy Finches
Snap off seeds

Of currant bush
Rooted and overhanging
This precipice

Of dizzying desire
As October tilts
Toward November 3rd

What Would St. Francis of Assisi Do?

Huddled indoors

            Sheltering from

                        The stinging cold

This Arctic blast

            An echo

                        Of what once was

Before we guzzled oil

            Before sea rise

                         Polar ice cap melt

How long

            Can we protect ourselves

                        From the elements?

Isolate and hide

            Ignore and pretend

                        Keep our comforts

Enough of complicity

            Enough of taking

                        Taking and taking

Open the door

            Walk barefoot

                        On the ice—still here

Feed the morning quail

            Be St. Francis

                        Arms raised, birds landing

Awaken and rise

            Time to…


Note: This morning as I shared my concept for this Blog with Wes before he headed off to teach school (online), he shared an apropos quote from the book he is reading, Cubed, The Puzzle of us All:

“This persistent and recurring state of anxiety is a fresh opportunity to ask totally new and different questions, broader and more challenging ones.”
Ernö Rubik

Yes. Rubik the master puzzler has a point. Let our anxiety lead us out of conformity and when we win, let us remember, our activism is just beginning.

“Dream only large dreams”–Brock Evans