All the wings in motion. Alaska News Brief February 2022

The thick sludge of winter can get to me sometimes. The dark, the cold, the cycling from snow to slush to ice to snow to—you get the picture. All of it gets old. I suppose that’s how cycles feel sometimes.

That’s why we have to break out of them—at least in terms of our emotions and perspectives.

This month, chocolate and birds gave me the nudge I needed. I definitely appreciate the serotonin surge when I bit into delicious locally made chocolate. Luckily, I have an inside track with Suzanne Bostrom, one of our senior staff attorneys, who is also one of the makers of Wildland Chocolate. Absolute yum!

Judging from the commotion at my bird feeder of late, my winged relatives get a similar thrill from sunflower seeds. I had to refill feeders three times last week!

The chickadees always hang out, so they got a little ruffled when the pine siskins showed up in a mini-flock of darlings that dodged to and from the feeder. The nuthatch seemed to want them off its lawn with that yank-yank honking. Then the redpolls started going nuts, with a few dozen bouncing around for food, and soon the waxwings swooped in, too.

Just pausing to see all those beaks and wings changes my focus, my breathing, my mood.

After thinking and writing about human challenges the last few months, I am grateful to the birds for giving me a reason to take a deep breath. They remind me how much my health depends on the array of living things in the world.

Recently, our legal director Brian shared a story about how doctors in Canada can now prescribe free national park passes for their patients’ health. Because, yes, a walk in the park can do wonders for people.

So can watching birds.

That’s another cycle I’m paying attention to—an old wisdom really—about how our health and the health of our communities depends on other living things, the bugs and flowers, the trees and streams, the mountains and tundra, the waterways and lands that make up the planet.

Epidemiology now has evidence of what our bodies have already told us. Human beings are part of a larger living world, and our lives and well-being improves when we connect with it and remember and nourish that connection.

For months now, I have taken up this space with thoughts and observations about the challenges we face, together, from the climate crisis to the crisis of biodiversity to the crisis of trust and truth and empathy.

Today, in this midwinter month still too far from spring to sense its warmth and light, I want to share instead the palpable presence of wings in motion at the little feeder outside my window.

There is so much to fight for, so much to love, so many reasons to feel such grateful delight!

Vicki Clark, executive director

PS. Thanks to supporters like you, we can continue fighting to protect Alaska’s land, water, air, wildlife and people!


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