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The Worlds From Which We Come

We have no waters now: ditches lined with mud only; the pond, empty and dry.

What we do have, strangely, is a fantastically-elevated water table — fantastic in the sense of “unlikely” or “surreal.”

That, too, is a product of climate change. Fewer than two years ago, we broke ground on our home. Laying the foundation required also laying the piping for plumbing and septic systems, and at that time, the earth beneath the work site was bone-dry. In under a year, when it came time to install the septic system itself, the groundwater had rerouted itself — to the exact same place where we had dug a few months previously. The table had also risen to within four feet of the surface. A week or so ago, we learned that it had risen by another foot.

We realized a few days ago that this is spectacularly good news.

This might, over the long term, present new complications for our already hyper-managed septic system, true. But those a structural, material issues that, given enough financial resources, can be handled. But we in near-record drought conditions now. If the water itself runs out?

That cannot be handled, nor can it be replaced.

We had been amazed to see how well the flora here were thriving in the face of zero rainfall; we had forgotten about the inexplicable rerouting of our water table. [It’s not entirely inexplicable, either, of course; last year, scientists reported the rerouting of an entire river in the space of four short months due to climate change.] But it has served as a reminder to us that what appears to be an obstacle on the surface may in fact be a facilitator underneath.

As indigenous people, it reminds us, too, to look for the deeper meanings in our origin stories. Many of our cultures are grounded in stories of emergence, whether from the earth or from the waters . . . but it’s easy to forget that those two are often one and the same, occupying the same space. Our histories, too, are riddled with prophecy: often dire predictions that have matched up all too well with the events of colonialism, but also the promise of a better world beyond — beyond in time (colonialism) but not in space (this plane of existence).

The recognition that, at the individual level, the effects of surface drought may be neutralized by subsurface resources is a lesson that carries over into all aspects of our lives.

It’s one, too, that is captured in today’s featured work, and beautifully so. From its description in the Rings Gallery here on the site:

From the Waters Ring

Some of the old stories tell how our earth emerged from the waters, and the people with it. With this ring, Wings has crafted an image in miniature of Turtle Island, amidst other land masses, arising with its own seas out of the shimmering silver waters of the underworld. The ring is formed of a single wide band of solid sterling silver, hand-texturized by hundreds of strikes of a jeweler’s hammer, with a lip as slender as a silver thread raised at either edge. At the center, set in a spare low-profile bezel, rests a stunning round cabochon of spiderweb turquoise (likely from the Royston or Fox mining districts of Nevada), blues a mix of robin’s-egg and sky, with twin matrices of mossy green patches and fine inky purple spiderwebbing, evoking the continents rising from the seas in a massive tectonic shift. The band is a half-inch wide; the cabochon is 7/16″ across (dimensions approximate). Sizeable. Side and underside views shown below.

Sterling silver; blue-green turquoise (likely Royston or Fox)
$525 + shipping, handling, and insurance

This work reminds me, too, of the beauty of our natural world, drought or no. We are blessed: The air is warm, the sun bright, the earth green.

And what, a few months ago, seemed potentially disastrous is precisely what has helped to make the green possible.

We live our lives on the surface, in so very many ways. But as the old stories teach us, the worlds from which we come enable our lives well lived in this one: from the waters, from the earth, from the ancestors, from the spirits.

~ Aji











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