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Skipping Stones

Table of Contents
Volume 14, #2
(March - April, 2002)

Going Wild: Nature All Around Us

Native America

  • Sam Resurrection: A girl connects with her heritage
  • Dine'... Don't ever forget who you are!
  • Opossum's Bare Tail: A Cherokee folk tale
  • Going Wild: Birds, Bees and Bugs
  • Western Winds * A Klamath Grandma... * Waterfall
  • My Bat House * The Dragon
  • Start a New Hobby: Become a birder * Birds
  • The Kiwi Bird
  • Bugs for Snacks?
  • Tic-Tock -Tic-Tock: Timely words
  • Public and Private: Two schools of thought
  • Nature Poetry: Trees, Seasons, The Rainforest, Flower Power
  • A Moment Frozen in Time * Trees

Global Understanding

  • Exploring New Worlds
  • Esther * What's in a Name? * Hmong Games
  • The Other Side of Mexican Migration
  • Firecracker Stand
  • Victoria Day on the Island
  • Airport Headaches * A Letter from Zimbabwe

Regular Departments

  • From the Editor
  • Editor's Mailbag: Growing Up in Belize
  • What's On Your Mind?
  • Poetry Page
  • Skipping Stones Stew: The Day I Woke Up!
  • Dear Hanna
  • Noteworthy News and Taking Action
  • Multicultural BookShelf
  • For Parents and Teachers * Children & Self-Esteem
  • Art by Maureen Quemada

(c) 2002 by Skipping Stones. Opinions expressed in these pages reflect views of the contributors, and not necessarily those of Skipping Stones, Inc.

From the Editor

Can you name a system that works on the sun's energy? It's perfectly designed, and, for all practical purposes, made to last forever. Your answer? The Earth, of course. Our planet works beautifully with just the incoming solar energy. The biosphere; the great oceans; the incredible diversity of the plant and animal kingdoms; and the various ecosystems, such as rainforests, tundras and deserts, all work in perfect harmony.

Truly, it can't be dismissed as an accident. It appears to be the work of a superb scientist, architect or designer—of a creator worthy of our praise for a perfect system design.

It is so perfect that there is no such thing as waste in the natural world. Everything is a resource; all products and by-products are useful. Invisible agents are always at work as producers, decomposers, pollinators, cleansers, etc. There are no wages, bills, taxes, "cash pay offs" or other monetary stimuli in nature. Each species does what it needs to, and what's good for it is also good for the system as a whole.

When a species overuses the resources or cannot live within the means available, it must adapt or become extinct. This applies to humans as well, for we are an integral part of the system. As a species, we're not above natural laws.

True, we have learned a lot from nature. Many of our human systems try to imitate or excel natural processes. The problem is that we learn just bits and pieces and think we know it all. We then try to apply these bits to our advantage without considering what's good for others, the community, the country, nature or the planet.

For example, our transportation networks are not energy efficient. Many cities are difficult to get around without a car. People feel that owning cars makes them independent, rich or "cool." We tend to justify the "need" to own personal cars rather than reducing our need for them by riding bikes or the bus.

Homes, agriculture and industry also have tons of wasteful practices.

Energy analysts like Amory Lovins and Brian O'Leary have shown beyond any doubt that there is a tremendous waste of resources. Wise resource use means not only efficiency but also investigating to see if the desired goals could have been met better some other way. A good design looks at all the aspects and long-term costs—economic, social, cultural and environmental.

In the last century, we have used up most of the fossil fuels that took nature over a million years to create. It is amazing to see that a gallon of gasoline, which comes from thousands of miles away and goes through much refining, is sold in the U.S. for less than a gallon of milk produced locally. Surely, we're missing big parts of the equation, like the costs of creating fossil fuels and of pollution-related losses.

We won't be able to extract the natural resources forever. Even though there will always be some coal, oil and gas left uderground, after a while, it will take much more energy to find, extract and refine them. Furthermore, as we "use up" natural resources, we are degrading our ecosystems, and bringing them closer to a breakdown point.

Greed and fear actually reduce the chances of survival for all species. For example, the U.S. Navy's proposed high-powered "Low-Frequency Active Sonar System" to detect enemy submarines in the oceans. Whales and dolphins depend on their sensitive hearing. A deaf whale is a dead whale. Noise from the LFA system will interfere with vital biological activities of marine mammals, like migration and communication. Natural Resources Defense Council scientists fear that long-term exposure to LFA could push entire populations into extinction.

Wasting wealth and resources on military and weapons of mass destruction will not make any nation more secure! Paths to lasting peace and sustainable lifestyles are not paved with greed, material possesions and powerful weapons but with virtues like generosity, understanding, compassion and love. We do need some basic things to live on, and there is plenty on the planet for all of our true needs!

-- Arun Toke, Editor of Skipping Stones
Eugene, OR

Growing Up in Belize

After the 11th of September, I realized I've been sitting on top of perfect examples of poverty, ignorance, greed and hopelessness—the food of terrorism. Television didn't exist in Belize until 1983. Since then, an entire generation of young men has grown up with images of life in America while surrounded by the exact opposite. Here, there are few books, magazines or matching bed sheets. The only people with fancy cars are drug dealers. Unemployment isn't temporary; it's a way of life. Roads aren't paved. Houses are not neat and tidy. Used diapers litter yards — food for the dogs and chickens.

Young men in Latin America live in an entirely different world from those in North America, yet most of them are not overcome by our differences. They don't become terrorists. They laugh. They love each other. They eat beans and fish, not french fries and hamburgers. They want to imitate their fathers. They love their country. Their parents expound values that are common to most cultures. Many of them have hope. Many of them want to stay as they are.

To a young man from the U.S., that's a concept difficult to imagine. How could a boy want to grow up to be a fisherman? What kind of skill is that for the 21st century? In North America, where slabs of fish come wrapped in cellophane on a plastic foam tray, few people know how to find, let alone catch, haul in, clean and filet a fish. Perhaps then, it's one of the greatest skills of all. We, in North America, have a way of belittling those who don't aspire to our same goals. Anyone can fish, we snort. Yes, anyone can fish, but, as they say here, not everyone can catch.

In this tiny Central American country, following Sept. 11th, people are still shaking. Children and parents are worried. Not because terrorists might attack Belize. Not because this is a nation of terrorists. Far from it. "No shirt, no shoes, no problem," is a national slogan. They worry because the attacks might change their way of life. Their's is not the American way. It's not life "as seen on tv." Clearly here, people understand that tv is entertainment, not life. Life here is understanding the dangers of the ocean, the currents, the tides, the wind. Gas is for fishing boats, not cars. Life here is raising chickens in your yard for a delicious, home-grown dinner. Life here is knowing how to fish to feed your family and others. It's an incredibly important skill. Belizians don't want to change. They don't want to be like North Americans.

To a person from North America, it may seem that many young men here are consumed with envy— destined to become terrorists. Many here are poor, but compared to what? Because they don't have a cars? They have no need for a car. Ignorant? Here, a person is considered stupid if s/he is unable to navigate using only the stars—without a compass. Many feel rich. Wise. Confident. Eager to share their fish and chickens. Hopeful that their lives won't change. How could a boy not want to grow up to be a fisherman?

-- Julie Duppstadt, originally from Vermont, mother of two boys,
lives in Belize, Central America.

Western Winds

Mother Earth, can you hear me
through the clicking of your brown beads
against your heavy chest and the scraping
of the old mano y metate?
i am small, like the crumbs in the lap of your Navajo blanket and quiet
but i am ready–like the Indian frybread baking
between the stones, and i am listening
can you hear me, Mother Earth?

i have seen the way you pull back your black hair
and some gray streaks, into your big silver clip,
the turquoise stones are small like me;
i counted twelve of them
i have watched you scrub away the dust
from between your toes
long after the sun has fallen behind the hills
the long, sharp grasses still swaying and whispering
Mother Earth, what do they say?
how does the sun wilt like a flower, and then
grow again the next morning like a fresh seed?

i know your stories, sung deep in your secret voices
like the creases in your palms, rubbed smooth
with oils of the earth
i know your eyes, black and stern
but forgiving like the thick straw
your skin I know too
red, like the clumps of earth in the shade
brown, like the fraying strings of your old wrap
my skin is the same color, newer and a little rounder
Mother Earth, can you hear me?

i hear you

-- Rebecca Lewis, 17
Denver, Colorado

TREES

Standing here
Victims of some silent holocaust
Reach upward
Groping for the unpassionate sky
Losing hope
Yet they stay for ages eternal
Stripped soulless
Still they cry out against their fate
Trembling giants
Cowering strength that yet guides the world
Role models
Mother Nature should be so kind
Nothing lives
Everything eventually falls from Her grace
Losing battle
Strength is merely a facade
Dying world
Will you remember those fallen before you?
The trees.

Susan Marlin, 15, Flint, Michigan.
"This poem came to me one day in a burst of anger, when
everything looked especially dark and gloomy. I decided to propose
another view on the age-old assumption that trees are a symbol of
strength."

The Rainforest

The rainforest
A paradise
Lush vegetation
Emerald green
Colossal trees
A mosaic rainbow
Towering trees
Reach for the sky
Boughs waving
Grasping
To get above
Pollution
Pure air beckoning
Just out of reach
A forest
Gasping for life.

-- Abigail Hutchins, 14, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"In school I was studying about pollution. I was shocked by the
amount of pollution people pour into the air. Humans are killing off
the animals and plants on Earth. I was thinking about pollution, and
then I thought about the rainforest. So I wrote this poem about the
effects of pollution on the rainforest."

Seasons

In winter snowflakes gently tumble
While frost slowly covers the cold ground
Tiny snow sprites do beautiful snow waltzes
That sometimes turn into violent blizzards.

Lovely spring bouquets make a fragrant breeze
Dainty butterflies flutter gracefully in the air
Beautiful ribbons are twisted around a tall May pole
While woodland nymphs peek carefully around trees.

When summer is here the lilacs bloom
Girls make flower garlands to dance with
Little fairies flitter around peaceful meadows
Enjoying the long, lazy summer afternoons.

Summer gradually becomes autumn
Gentle storms blow sweet melodious songs
Colorful leaves frolic playfully around town
The most beautiful leaves do a pas de deux in the sky.

-- Jessica Liu, 9,
Sandy, Utah

Flower Power

Sunflowers are not just any old ordinary flower,
They give me power to climb a huge tower.
Once I reach the top,
        I would smell a beautiful
        sunflower.

Lillies are very sweet,
I can't say they can be beat
        by any fragrance used in
                bath or shower.

When I see a rose, it tickles me.
I spray them with a hose
        or place them between my toes.
                Ouch! What a prickle!

Daisies make me lazy and crazy
        One day I came home,
                my daisies were gone
        So I couldn't act crazy or lazy.

-- Darnisha Tannehill, 11,
Alexandria, Louisiana

A Moment Frozen in Time

Treading silently over the carpet of pine needles, I creep softly through the woods.
I can smell the clean, fresh scent of the recent rains in the breeze caressing my cheek,
As the sun reaches down through the leaves to draw shifting patterns on the forest floor.
Nearby, birds warble softly to each other, fish splash in the gurgling brook,
Squirrels whistle and screech as they scold me...
And then I see her.
        My first deer.
A young doe drinking quietly from the brook, bronze except for the belly and chin.
As the wind blows my scent away from her, pine needles underfoot muffle my footsteps.
I raise the rifle. As I turn off the safety, the doe hears the click and turns.
I take aim, tense myself, and then stop.
She is looking at me through her dark liquid eyes.
Ocean-deep, they gaze at me until I find myself lost within them.
Unable to move or think, I can only stare.
For a second that lasts an eternity, we stand facing each other.
The woods are silent; nothing is moving.
It is a moment frozen in time.
Then, without warning, she breaks the gaze and bounds away gracefully, silent as a spirit.
I catch a glimpse of the white underside of her tail before she disappears into the trees.
I leave the gun on the forest floor and go home.

-- Alice Yu, 12,
Gibsonia, Pennsylvania

Airport Headaches

Arriving at Mumbai Airport,
My head splitting from:
        hunger.
        customs.
        baggage claim.
Of course our bags were the last to arrive.

Jumbling in a crowd where
        voices scream and yell
        in Bengali, Hindi and Marathi.
Babies squall.
Ceiling fans and brats whine.
        My mom barks,
        "Watch our luggage!"
I wish I could yell back at her,
        or stomp away.

Sweat pours off my forehead,
Everyone gives my shorts a dirty look.
I glare back at them.
It makes me feel just like I do
        when Texans stare at my sari.

My dry throat wants a Coke.
        Even water will do.
Porters scramble toward us.
I flop down on the luggage
        and wish I were home.

But when my mother
        pivots,
        smiles,
        and hugs nanaji and naniji,
I realize she is home.

Suddenly my headache evaporates.
No longer exhausted, I jump up and squeal,
"Hi, Grandpa and Grandma!"

-- Gazal Taparia, Indian American,
Houston, TX

The Day I Woke Up!

Have you ever felt like something was just not right with you or that you were a little different? At times I used to feel that way. You see my family is very special. My mother is a beautiful woman with brown skin, dark hair and ebony eyes. My father has light skin, dark blond hair and gorgeous, green eyes.

As I started to get older, I would notice "the look." First they look at me and smile. Then they take a quick glance at my mother, then turn again to look at my father. Then they check his ring finger to see if he really is the father of that girl with the light green eyes. Those were the moments when I felt a little weird. What were they looking for? What did they see? Why were they always looking at me?

One day the answer came. They are looking, but they don't see. They could look for years and still not understand. They would never see how special I am. They will never know the joy of coming from two parents who love each other the way mine do.

That was the day I woke up and realized that I am not strange, not even a little weird, but special. I am a blend of wisdom, strength and love. It takes wisdom to look beyond our differences; it takes strength to bring those differences together, and it takes love to keep it that way.

-- Charmayne Rozenek, Erie, Penn.
"I have been married for 13 years. We are an inter-racial couple, with a
six-year-old son who is wonderful. We have overcome many
challenges, different views and opinions, and we have only grown
stronger for it."

 

 

Skipping Stones Magazine
P.O. Box 3939
Eugene, OR 97403 USA.
Telephone: (541) 342-4956