Friday, January 21, 2022

dive deep


Greetings, All.  It's the 3rd Friday of the month, the one where Poetry Friday meets Fridays for Future and we focus on climate issues. Let's take a look at the Climate Clock.

As we contemplate how little time we have left to limit global warming to 1.5*C, let's also consider this enormous news: I drove through McDonald's today (why and whether that's a good use of my climate activist economic pressure is a topic for another time) and realized that my new reusable straw was not in my bag.  It's hard to drink in the car (a birthright of the American consumer) without a straw, so reluctantly I popped open the wrapper on the McD's straw AND DISCOVERED IT WAS PAPER, 100% PAPER!!!  That, my friends, is progress, and SOMEONE (someone you know?) has been badgering McDonald's to make that happen. Cheers to the straw activists!

Here's another cause for celebration: "Deep in the ocean off the coast of Tahiti, scientists made an incredible discovery in November: acres of giant, pristine, rose-shaped corals blossoming from the sea floor in what's known as the ocean's "twilight zone.""


The research mission, led by UNESCO, found the reef stretches for nearly two miles and exists at depths down to 70 meters, or 230 feet. This is around the ocean's "twilight zone," where there's just enough light to sustain life, and below which the ocean transitions into a dark abyss."For once, it's a positive story about coral reefs in the news, which is quite rare these days," Julian Barbiere, head of marine policy at UNESCO, told CNN.

Indeed, this news has got me bobbing about and feeling pink and positive somehow, like "WEHAVEN'TDESTROYEDEVERYTHINGYET!"  And, if we didn't know this reef was even there, maybe that means there's so much else we don't know, that we can discover, that might save us.

Now, to connect the straw to the reef, I want to make sure you all know about this book, THE LAST STRAW: KIDS VS. PLASTIC, an NCTE Notable Book for 2021, by Susan Hood.

From Kids Book a Day: "Following an introduction by 9-year-old Milo Cress, founder of Be Straw Free, this poetry collection looks at different aspects of plastic, from its undeniable usefulness in many areas to the damage it is wreaking on the environment (especially the oceans) to different ways kids and teens are figuring out to recycle and find alternatives to plastic.  

The poetry is just the beginning in this book that is jam-packed with information and inspiring stories about kids working to make a difference in the world by recycling or eliminating plastics.  The colorful illustrators add a lot to the poems, and the 13 pages of back matter... make this an excellent resource for older kids."

Here's one poem from that book to enjoy with the younger readers you know, and one from the Poetry Foundation for you.

illustrations by Christiane Engel


 A Sea Change | Susan Hood
Listen to the seagulls cry,
    watching whales
        who used to thrive
            in seas of cobalt blue.
    Those might mammals ruled the waves--
        a most majestic crew!
Listen to the seagulls cry,
    watching whales 
        who breach and dive
            in seas of plastic stew.
    Whales eat their fill of bags and cups
        and other human spew.
Listen to the seagulls cry
    watching whales
        who can't survive
            sink slowly out of view.
    O wisest of the mammals, please!
        Sea change is up to you.

Pot of Gold |  Ingrid Wendt

For Elizabeth Bishop, 1911–1979, with gratitude

We talk, you and  I, of  mindfulness, here in the world above
          water, but what’s below is watchfulness,
                     pure and simple: creatures trying not to be eaten,
          creatures relentlessly prowling or simply waiting for meals to
cruise on by. Except maybe parrotfish.
          Ever industrious, ever in motion, it’s hard to find one not
                     chomping on Yucatán limestone reefs. What we see as
          dead, bleached coral or crusted limestone shelves, for them

is re-embodied Fish Delight. Which means I find them by
          eavesdropping. Ah, those castanet choruses clicking, clacking,
                     a coven of  promises leading me on until there:
          below my mask and snorkel, a dozen or more upside-down

Princesses sway as one, in their pink and blue checkerboard
          gowns, their long, long dorsal crowns
                     cobalt-striped, and turquoise, and fuchsia—useless—
          no Prince to be found, not even in fish identification books,

just me and my ardor. Bewitched, each day I hang, transfixed,
          above them in a slightly different
                     place in that once-pristine, once-undiscovered Yal-Ku lagoon,
          its cradling mix of salt and fresh water

letting me hold myself, and time, and the rest of the world
          stock still.         [read the rest here; the ending is worth the click]


And now, before you go, click on over to  Oceana, a Charity Navigator 4-Star outfit, to learn more about one of the world's biggest plastic polluters (yeah, you guessed it--Amazon) and to take a little action.

Our Poetry Friday host today is Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference, where her puzzling reflections and poem fit nicely with the idea that we all have a part to play in changing the way humans live on our home, the Earth.


  1. Yay for feeling "pink and positive!" The last line of Susan's poem is so empowering. Thanks, Heidi! xo

  2. Your post is all kinds of 'ex-straw' special, Heidi. Just like you. :)

  3. "Pot of Gold" makes me think of Sally and her snorkeling. So beautiful.
    When I hear about straws, I think about the disability community.( I'm glad they are offering paper ones.
    Thanks for the link to the Amazon petition!

  4. I did see about that new coral discovery. Nature gives us gifts we never knew we had & I hope it's not too late. I don't go to McDonald's so didn't know about the straws. I have read the straw book & do carry my own, seems like something easy for everyone to do. Thanks for that "rainbow" ending, a thought for a possible pot of gold?

  5. What a wonderful post, Heidi, bringing together so many passions. Thank-you for sharing that wonderful whale poem spread. It is beautiful, yet urgent and moving.(Also, I love a rich non-fiction resource. And poetry...💙)

  6. Wow! such a rich post. Thank you, Heidi. I so appreciate something to celebrate. Hooray for paper straws! And, the switch to so much paper has had an interesting side-effect. Libraries are having a tough time getting cheap books such as manga due to the paper shortage! LOL. It's all good. We humans will eventually catch up with ourselves and also work out the kinks in our supply chain. But, your post reminds me of the interconnectedness of everything. Thank you for the peek at the book. It's beautiful and so on point for middle school. I think I will add that to my list.

  7. Thank you for reminding me about The Last Straw! Susan Hood visited our school pre-pandemic. She is an amazing, inspiring person. And I agree, the news about the coral reef discovery is exciting! I have never snorkeled, but "Pot of Gold" makes me feel like I there, suspended in that "cradling mix of salt and fresh water," watching in awe as the midnight parrot's "one tremendous eye caught mine." Thank you for this terrific post!

  8. Along with the discovery of that new coral reef, I am heartened by scientists who are raising coral in the lab and grafting it back onto dead reefs where it is taking hold and growing. So many scientists working to reverse our damage. It gives us hope. THE LAST STRAW was one of my favorite books to share with my class last year. Every poem prompted great conversations. You were right, the end of "Pot of Gold" was worth the click!!!

  9. The seagull's lament is heart wrenching. I didn't know about this book, but love other work by Susan Hood. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Yes, I agree with Margaret, the seagull poem is powerfully painful, I hope it has an audience far and wide. Happy to hear the discovery of this gorgeous new coral, and about the paper straws! I just purchased my first paper box of non-liquid laundry detergent in efforts of trying to cut back on the plastic containers that so much laundry detergent is packaged in. I recently heard about our excess plastics in the ocean on NPR's Science Friday—Thanks for all Heidi!

  11. Thanks for the good news, Heidi. We are in Hawaii on Maui for the third time (yes, that is probably terrible that we've been here that many times in the last 11 years.) But, guilt aside, we've noticed that the coral reef here looks healthier than on our last visit six years ago. Also, the sea turtles are active and prevalent in the coves...We've seen more than ever. They are also doing restorative dune habitat along several beaches we've visited. So, some more great news. I have signed on to be a presenter for a local school's Environmental Day in early April. I am seriously considering a water conservation presentation. Thanks for your post!

  12. Heidi, thank for always bringing the environmentalist's viewpoint to keep updating us on what is key: Sea change is up to you! The positive news about coral is so exciting. Love this: acres of giant, pristine, rose-shaped corals blossoming from the sea floor in what's known as the ocean's "twilight zone." A poem should grow out of that thought.

  13. Wow,that ending was worth a click! Thanks for that and the other treasures of this post.

  14. This book looks like one I need to add to my classroom library. Thanks so much for sharing it and for your consistent efforts to mobilize change. I appreciate all the links and information and the nudges toward taking small actions. And yay for some positive news :)


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!