Earth Day + Poetry Writing Month

I have been writing poetry and following writers of poetry this month of NaPoWriMo, aka, April. And so, my post includes a poem I wrote and posted for Earth Day.  Today’s challenge was to write a georgic, “a poem dealing with practical aspects of agriculture and rural affairs”, says Encyclopedia Britannica.  Here is Virgil’s lengthy georgic for comparison.  Mine deals with today’s Earth issues, as you will see.  Also, I include a photo of myself at the 5th Ave Easter Day Parade last weekend, which turned out to be all about the vintage dress I had on, a Leslie Fay original, pleated waist with matching belt.  Given the extreme and bizarre heat of Easter Day, my poem feels all the more apropos.  Enjoy.

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EARTH DAY GEORGIC

After Virgil

INVOCATION
Oh Gods of Earth and Sky, hear our prayer,
grant us wisdom to tend to that which has been
bestowed upon us, let us be wise stewards,
give us strength and courage to be so.

EXORTATION
As the sun looms ever hotter
and the weathers are raging or dull;
now that the water in the land is
poisoned and we drink it so;
And the land is barren of nutrients,
because, and despite, of its multitudinous crops,
and we must give it and ourselves vitamins,
it is mete to take care and caution,
to not use our water flows as garbage drains,
to stop the cycling and circulation of plastics-
of bags, packages, containers and such.
Let wrappers not fall discarded from our hands
to the Earth, even paved Earth. Leave not our cars
to idle while waiting in them. Such is foul to the air.
Let us compost our soil rich again.
Likewise, demand that solar and wind powers
be harnessed post haste, and that these many cars
and machines of dirty, greedy oil
be converted to their truth.
It is best to buy wisely those fibers and materials
that are natural to the Earth. Our very clothing
both comes from Earth and poisons Earth. As does our food.
Thus it is, that we need Earth, and she needs us, too.

BENEDICTION
Let us grow shade and plush fields,
let us cherish our soil more than gold.
May our water sparkle brighter than rubies,
emeralds, even diamonds, and not be bought or sold,
but treasured and purified, revered.
May our Earth be restored to balance
through our blessed efforts.
May our efforts live in harmony with our Earth.

-EJP

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Story N˚ 21: The End of an Era

My first “puffy” coat-

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Not fashionable, but functional!
  • was purchased for $35 at Monk’s in Williamsburg around the time it was getting too cold to put off buying my first ever winter coat.
  • was in no way a fashion statement, but allowed me to experience Northern winters in a civilized, rational way.
  • was my shield on long, lonely and very necessary walks through the gloom of Winter 2013.
  • allowed me to enjoy my first snowshoe outing at Mohonk Mountain House (a sparkling day).
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On top of the world at Mohonk
  • cushioned me at the ice skating rink.
  • paired well with woolen sweaters and a down vest for extra cold days (not cause it looked great, but it did the warmth trick).
  • became a sort of blanket for my Christmas Day beach visits (yes, this Floridian goes to the beach every Christmas Day possible, and a coat like this makes it possible).
  • also made it possible to bike through a few winters (not sure what I was trying to prove).
  • five NYC winters later, will be fondly and appreciatively remembered.
  • the next winter coat, TBD
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The final resting place for my puffy coat

Story N˚19: Or, Up on my SOAP BOX

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Some of my motives for writing about clothing experiences are to elevate the status of clothing in your wardrobe, to encourage you to carefully buy new clothes and take care of those you already have, and to consider the environmental and humanitarian impacts of your shopping choices. 

In light of current political activity and mood in the U.S., it seems trite to share a story about clothing when there are weightier issues on the table:  mass incarceration, human trafficking, poverty, corruption, human rights violations, environmental devastations and, latest, refugees have just been barred from entering our freedom-loving nation.  This is heavy stuff, but I can no longer look away.  

I want to stress anew the power that we have as consumers and citizens; this power is fueled by knowledge and information.  In a democracy, even a version of one, we all have the responsibility to know our rights and stay informed (through a wide range of credible channels), and then to speak up when ours and other’s rights are in violation.  One of our powers is to vote with our dollars- what we give money to, we give power to.  Let it be a worthy, ethical entity. 

Given the above dump truck’s worth of issues that violate human rights, there is much to be done.   Shopping responsibly is one important and simple thing we can do, here’s how:

  • Shop Thrift, Vintage, Second hand.  There is so much great stuff out there already, let it inform your personal style. 
  • Shop only when you need something, rather than as a hobby, habit or compulsion.
  • Shop brands and stores that you trust.  It only takes a minute to google a brand and see how they score on an ethics/environmental test.  Give your money to a brand that cares!  the good trade  ecocult  project just
  • Shop in your closet or share/swap clothes with siblings and friends.
  • Shop for quality.  Buy items that are well made and will last you more than a few wearings.
  • Shop for your individual style instead of only shopping trends.  Be your beautiful self and have fun figuring out what your style is, or test the limits of your established style.
  • Take care of the clothes you have, be grateful for them.  Hang dry your clothes, don’t over wash, and repair them or find a reliable tailor to help you.

In solidarity,

E

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By Mark Fischer – http://www.flickr.com/photos/fischerfotos/7454854178/sizes/l/, CC BY-SA 2.0

Story N˚17: Sweater Weather

…Which officially began a few months ago in these climes, has been eluding us.  Even today in Manhattan, I saw a teenager in shorts and flip flops as I marched by in tall boots, sweater, scarf and raincoat.  Despite being dressed for the rainy grey day, I wouldn’t call it cold or even chilly.  My sweaters are ready to go, but on many days they feel too heavy and uncomfortably warm.  Here’s hoping temperatures will drop, so I can bundle up properly.

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My sweater stack is a tidy group of mostly shopped pieces. As a Floridian, I wasn’t in the habit of acquiring sweaters.  Since moving to New York, I’m happy to boast a few Indigenous cotton sweaters ethically made in Peru and a charcoal grey alpaca sweater by Zady that I’m getting a lot of mileage out of.  But the sweater that has the most history with me is a hand-knitted pumpkin spice sweater that keeps me cozy warm.  It came into my life in 2005 on a return trip to Argentina.  As I’ve mentioned before, Argentina is a great place for yarns and knitting.  My friend, Silvia, was working away on this sweater.  She said it was for herself but when finished, she realized that it was way too big for her small figure and gave it to me as a gift.  I thought it was too big for me as well, but didn’t want to refuse it.  I made room in my suitcase somehow- this thing is really bulky!  And it lived in clothes storage for many years before I moved North.  I think the oversized slouchiness really works now, although the color isn’t my favorite and I prefer natural fibers.  On the coldest days, this sweater has found itself stuffed inside my down fill coat. A tight fit, but no complaint of chill.  And I can always use a scarf to offset the color.  This sweater has become a lounge staple.  Best of all, I love that it is handmade by a friend…

 

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Story N˚ 14: In Memoriam

I realize this Memorial Day weekend, as I think of my loved ones who have passed on, that I keep articles of clothing in memoriam. It’s something I have done unconsciously, until now.  Here are a few pieces I cherish.

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After my father died, I kept an old blue T-shirt he wore in softball games with his coworkers. My dad was always athletic:  football in high school; baseball and basketball. He taught us how to swim, and loved to go running.

This T-shirt has a faded number 8 on the back, chosen for the number of children he has. I used to wear it to run in, but I want to preserve it. Now, I wear it around the house when I need some familiar comfort.  It’s wonderfully soft from use.

My Grandpa O began his life on a potato farm in Idaho; he’s my mom’s dad. He was a natural at growing things, and remained an avid gardener throughout his life. Whenever he came to visit us in Florida, he would be fixing up our neglected garden, and setting up the compost pile by the fence with dried leaves on top.  The compost bin would appear by the sink, and we’d return to the practice of tossing in peels and organic waste.  I mostly remember him outdoors, staying busy.

Grandpa O had a light grey Champion sweatshirt that was passed on to me by my grandmother after he died. I also wear it to go running. Now, it has a small hole near the cuff burned by a camp fire cinder.

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One year, I went with my mom and siblings to Yellowstone for the first time. It was late May, so we Floridians thought it was practically summer, and therefore warm outside. We realized our thinking error as we drove past snow banks taller than the car. My brother, Dan, didn’t even bring a coat, so I lent him Grandpa O’s sweatshirt. Luckily, Dan knew how to build us a fire.  The evidence of this adventure is seared in the sleeve.
This sweatshirt reminds me of my grandpa working in the yard, and of a snowy May vacation with my family every time I wear it. It’s a great piece for wearing out of doors.

Now that I’m aware of my practice of keeping clothing, I have plenty more stories for Memorial Day.  I have so many loved ones who have passed on, and I love to remember them this way- through the clothing that touched their skin, through the pieces they lived life in.

Story N˚ 11: Winter Blues

I don’t have the winter blues, thank goodness.  Rather, I love the color Blue, and have come to love Winter in the north (it took me about 3 winters to be able to say so).  I imagine January as a blue month:  I see blue shadows on the snow, the pale blue of a cold dawn, or glimpses of brilliant blue sky between bare brown trees and racing clouds.  Not surprisingly, I have a remarkable number of blue clothing and accessories.  Here are my faves that are keeping me warm this winter:

  1. My most recently acquired accessory: this Nepalese handmade wool blanket scarf was given to me by a sweet friend who is so encouraging of my clothing design ambitions.  I first wore this to the airport in December.  It is so soft and cozy, and I noticed the vibrant blues turned a lot of heads my way.

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2. Before I moved to NYC, I picked this plaid flannel shirt out of a crowded swap meet pile back in Florida.  I had a lovely group of herbalist/permaculturist friends at the time who did things like swap clothes, and share food and music on the front porch.  I was able to find my path and begin my journey on it, thanks to their influence.  This shirt is one I like to wear to draw in; a studio shirt, if you will.  I did have it on once when helping a short-term boyfriend paint his apartment.  There are still paint smudges on the front pocket to mark that event.  I need to do more drawings and make more memories in this shirt.

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3. For my birthday in 1995 (yeah, 21 birthdays ago), I bought myself these Kickers in Cordoba, Argentina.  They were worn by every adolescent on the street there, and I fell in love with them.  I have worn them off and on throughout the years, and I’m happy to note they are still kicking.  I recently dusted them off and began to wear them again.  On the first outing, the subway car I got onto was full of Argentine men on vacation.  I watched them look at my shoes and whisper to each other.  I tried not to grin, but I felt coy and very cool.  I love these shoes, and find that other people do, too.

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Story N˚9: Día de los Inocentes

Today, December 28th, is celebrated, mainly in Catholic communities, as a day for jokes and pranks- very much like our (U.S.) April Fool’s Day. The idea is to not remember the tragic massacre of infants recorded in the Book of Matthew, but to make the day lighthearted and fun. Children in some countries receive their Christmas gifts on this day as well, El Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents).
In keeping with a focus on children, I want to show off some baby clothes made by my great grandmother, Bessie (Elizabeth Badger Higgs). She was known for her handicraft and excellent cooking. She made these pieces almost 100 years ago. I am amazed at her perfect stitches and creative detail.