An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of July 4, 2004
written in the woods not far from Natchez, Mississippi, USA

ME AND THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

I love this kind of weather. For weeks it's been so humid that morning haze and afternoon cloudiness have kept it cooler than if the sun had shined all the time, and if it does get very hot then you can bet that a storm will soon come up cooling things off. On the Internet if you watch the regional radar in the afternoons you'll see storms popping up all over like mushrooms. They're quick and violent, and then they're gone, and mostly they miss you. Hearing the thunder through the afternoons as the storms come and go is very satisfying. I'm getting deaf. Birdcalls and cricket sounds are drifting away from me, but I can hear that thunder all through my body.

Sometimes I take up my hoe or scythe and go work in mid afternoon heat, exactly when it's hardest to breathe and keep going. But I like feeling all that weather-power around me, to experience my body sweating and tingling with edgy just-surviving. When a little breeze comes along, the coolness rippling across my back and legs is one of the most pure, uncomplicated pleasures a human can enjoy. The other day I heard a Johnny Cash ballad in which he sang something like "I hurt myself just to see if I could still feel." That's not me, but Johnny and I are exploring similar corners of the human condition.

When I'm working and there's a storm brewing nearby, and from the corner of my eye I'm watching flashes in the slaty darkness to my side, sometimes I feel like I'm on a powerfully dramatic stage. Maybe I'm just a tall, balding hermit dressed less elegantly than some would like, but when I'm out there with the looming storm it's like being in the old classic movie Dr. Zhivago. For, maybe my dedication to sustainable living in a small way can be compared to the sacrifices of those nearly a century ago who worked and died for the Russian Revolution. The great storm rearing next to me is the Revolution itself with its flashing cannons and mindless destruction, and the heat and humidity in which the scene is cast accomplish the same poetic resonance as the cold and snow did for Dr. Zhivago.

How beautiful to work beneath a sky that's so heavy, dense and potentially dangerous, while silently within I'm harboring this unshakable dedication to something grander, as the great revolution comes, comes, comes... Facebook Icon.