‘A Memoirist starts with events and then derives meaning from them.’ I read this from Mary Karr’s, The Art of Memoir just as a sleepy mosquito landed light on the spine. Whenever I read Mary’s work, the first thing that happens is I try to write like Mary. The only way out is to read someone else’s work to cleanse my brain. I’ll mention we’re in a New York January, not a Louisiana January, so seeing a mosquito this time of year isn’t what you would expect. I’m nothing if not prone to magical thinking, so I pulled down the sleeves of my sweater, folded my knees under me to cover my ankles, and kept him in focus just in case he started edging toward my delectable flesh.
You don’t want to go around squishing a sign from the universe. The reason I know this? My well-loved resource, Medicine Cards, the revised and expanded edition written by Jamie Sams and David Carson, which include illustrations by Angela Werneke I’d like to turn into tattoos someday. This book explains the art of intuition, or, even better, the art of trusting your gut. Animal medicine asks you to figure out why they show up in the first place. What is this animal meant to bestow? What is its veiled truth?
The first thing I do is cement my thinking as to whether or not what I’m looking at is the real deal. Is it out of the ordinary? Yes, it is. A mosquito out of season landing on my book while reading a relevant passage is worth considering. Another valid question to pose- could this have been contrived? It would be an extraordinary feat in patience for somebody to train one lone mosquito how to fly into the house and sit still long enough for me to formulate its purpose, so the answer is no; in this instance, I am not being messed with.
The next thing is to find out what the characteristics of a mosquito are. I’m talking about The Everyman mosquito, not just the one I’m looking at. It’s no stretch to write that mosquitoes aren’t anyone’s champion unless you happen to be a virus or a fellow dipteran fly friend. The buzzing in your ear with the anticipation of being bitten on some delicate nether region have sealed their reputation as mini-made flying, blood-sucking torture machines. Gross. What I gleaned from Mosquito is the telltale foreboding of a New York January warm enough to keep him alive and well enough to land on my book.
Another book within reach, We Are All Greta; Be Inspired to Save The World, by Valentina Giannella and illustrated by Manuela Marazzi, delivers a whopping amount of facts in a way so as not to overwhelm, and strategies to pave a way out of this pending environmental catastrophe. Giannella refers often to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group founded by the World Meteorological Organization and the governments represented within the United Nations. These people are no slouches. Their mission; ‘to understand the scientific basis of the risk of human-induced climate change.’
According to Giannella, ‘The IPCC does not conduct research but evaluates it, cross-checking all of the variables, outcomes, and possibilities before producing a report that represents the facts as far as the facts are known.’ Giannella continues, ‘You know the famous “double-check”? The second look that is used in critical situations to avoid human error? Here it is, multiplied by 150,000. When the IPCC report comes out, we can safely consider it reliable and authoritative.’ I don’t need a weird mosquito to remind me we have too much flooding here at home. All I need to do is drive over eroding roads and through pools of water to understand that our infrastructure cannot sustain humanity’s impact on the planet. Not only that, a trip upstate this summer exposed miles and miles of forest canopy, a brittle, dying patchwork as far as the eye could see. An all too real tapestry of a climate out of balance.
“Global warming is making some extreme weather events worse. Global warming can contribute to the intensity of heat waves by increasing the chances of very hot days and nights. Warming air boosts evaporation which can worsen drought. More drought creates dry fields and forests that are prone to catching fire, and increasing temperatures means a longer wildfire season. Global warming also increases water vapor in the atmosphere, which can lead to more frequent heavy rains and snowstorms.” –published by the National Academies on their website, nationalacademies.org August 5, 2019, updated August 12, 2021
**Coincidentally, Greta Thunberg refers to the IPCC in her presentations and speeches all the time.