Two days ago, I was on Day Three of my Climate Ride Across Nebraska (CRAN). Maybe it was the 57 hilly miles of headwind,
or maybe it was the tepid response I’d received in the North about why I was doing this, or maybe I was feeling the ancestral energy left behind by the pioneers who had attempted, in far worse conditions, with covered wagons (for gosh sake), to trek the sandhill terrain I’d been pedaling across for the past 72 hours.
Whatever the reason, by the time I turned East on Hwy 2, my mind was a tornado and my heart a jumble. Hwy 2 marks the place where the ranches and rodeos, meet railroad and industry. The trains barrel by on the tracks nearly every 20 minutes and every second or third one is filled to the brim with coal.
For a few hours that morning, I had the morale boost of a riding companion (I’ve seen a total of 5 cyclists this week!). It was a gift to share conversation and humor as we both leaned in and howled at the wind. My new friend, it turns out, is a scientist, with advanced degrees in conservation. When I shared how much I was looking forward to seeing the Nebraska State Forest (I would be passing it that afternoon), he mentioned that all those trees, hand-planted in the 1920s, were wreaking havoc on Nebraska’s water table.
I really didn’t want to hear that. Nor did I want to be reminded of my dependency on coal in a steady train-after-train succession, and NEITHER did I want to puzzle any more over what I could ask or say when I’m talking with others who don’t believe there’s a problem with the way we’re using the remaining resources on this planet.
In that moment, clipping along the highway shoulder at a steady 14 mph, I lost it. Tears ran down my face, sobs unlocked the knot in my throat and I wailed loudly as another train roared past. “Why Do I Care So Much?” asked the voice in my heart? “Hmmmm, Right,” said my head. “Why do I care? And, would it really be fair to think that others do NOT care?”
I mean, let’s start with you. Do YOU care? And if enough of us care, why isn’t change happening faster?
Global warming isn’t going to stop because we reuse our bags and ride bikes (great things, of course – keep doing them, start doing them, don’t stop doing them), AND change is going to be fraught with complexities we don’t want to hear and will find overwhelming.
It takes courage to stick with it. I shrink away a lot. It requires vulnerability to feel the grief and of what humans have done to our Earth home. I look the other way sometimes. When we vow to do this together, sort of like working with that damn headwind, we set a pace for one another, resisting the seduction of becoming complacent.
I think that’s part of what my CRAN is about. I’m looking for ways we can ban together, use our voice, and foster change. One way to do that, is to support others who are organizing this effort grassroots to grand, all around the globe. Thanks to so, so many of you, we have raised nearly $9000 to divide between my three chosen beneficiaries. My ride, however, is NOT over. If you haven’t made a donation and want to, there’s still time. Whaddy say? Finish line together with 10k? You can make a secure online donation NOW by clicking on the ‘Support Me’ button, on my Climate Ride page. You’ll automatically receive an acknowledgment and I will be notified by email of your support. Thank you for your help!
I speak for the trees! 🙂 And context is important. I’m curious what percent of draw on the water table is agriculture and any other industry, versus trees. That said, it is true that many tree types aren’t naturally in some landscapes (like the great grasslands of the Flint Hills of Kansas just to the south with which I’m more familiar) Enjoy the ride, enjoy the wind, and may we all increasingly share the wisdom of renewables.
Yes, Yes, Lorax Jaber, ME TOOOOOO! I’ve been doing some investigating…. Professor Bessey, the man who lead the tree-planting at the time, had reason to believe that area of the prairie had once known trees, but they’d been destroyed by fires or the like. Certainly, the prairie can thank trees for wind protection, shade and oasis of all sort. SOOOO….like so much of this conservation/preservation equation, it’s complicated. I bow to the mystery and do what I can. I am so grateful, David, for all you do!