I have a fierce love for this earth
Which means I cannot be a bystander
Which means I must not be silent or separate
What we love we will not turn away from
I have found questions to be great companions – elusive questions can be lifelong friends. What is the wild, how are we wild? What are dreams made of? How about profound synchronicity? What is possible between species? Do unusual animal encounters mean anything? Can several layers of meaning – the mundane and esoteric - be true at the same time? And what about time – is it linear, circular, simultaneous?
We live in a period of great paradox: such beauty, such peril. My daily practice is to embrace this duality: joyous and marveling at the wonder of the natural world without turning from grief or response-ability as it is threatened. My writing aspires to hold it all, including those who have been left out of the conversation: animals, plants, landscapes, ancestors, the yet to be born.
We can become saturated with the pain of the earth’s destruction. Our shared creative actions are our lifeboats. To keep afloat we need to bail, not as in give up, but bail as in scooping out the water around our ankles as the sea rises. Let us paddle our boats to shore together. Please join the dialogue.
What we love we will not turn away from
Which means we must not be silent or separate
We cannot be alone in these times
As we fiercely love our world
Pictograph Grand Gulch Primitive Area, Utah
Sculpture by Carol Gaab
Deep Time Medicine Sept 9,2023
In need of a radical reset, I set off for the Grand Canyon in hopes that the vast expanses and the presence of Deep Time (geologic layers a billion years old) would give me perspective as I grapple with holding onto beauty in the midst of mass extinctions. I never anticipated how this paradoxical dilemma would directly manifest through an encounter with the condors in the canyon.
Elemental Theater - March 25, 2023
Atmospheric rivers, floods, mudslides, and toppling trees. In this essay, I grapple with how to hold contradiction - the awesomeness and the awfulness - as we in California endure historic weather events. Join me in my own experiences of the beauty and the destruction as well as my reflections regarding those dealing with truly devastating circumstances.
Who Is Kathy Shoopman? - November 19, 2022
Beguiled - June 3, 2022
Color is one of my great joys in life. And there it is, all around us, free for the taking. I am equally transported by a Georgia O'Keefe painting or the lasting image of a boldly colored king snake slithering into its hole. Certain vivid images, without any explicit meaning, can get inside us and stick around for years. In this essay, enter a multi-hued journey as I explore the world of color.
Feeders - October 23, 2021
In this essay I first ponder why sometimes I feel “bone tired” and then explore deeper sources of nourishment when the depletion relates to existential concerns (threat of fire, pandemics, climate change) more than the day’s exertion. Not your typical self-care essay, instead I explore the more-than-human-world of dreams, ancestors, synchronicities, and animal encounters.
CZU Lightning Complex Fire Series
Read about my experiences with the initial lightning storm, evacuation and finally coming home.
Encroaching fires, falling ash, evacuation. It all began with one of the most magnificent lightning storms I've ever witnessed. It evoked vivid memories of my fire lookout tower days. And then after the storm, devastation followed. This is the first in a Fire Series where I share how my life has been changed as I hold the paradox of peril and beauty.
“My Greater Skin” is the second essay in my Fire Series about my experiences during the explosive CZU Lightning Complex Fire.
This piece moves from a fleeting moment of innocence into frenzied evacuation as I grapple with what it means to pack up and leave a place that feels inseparable from what I love and who I am.
"Returning: Renewal of Vows," the third essay in my Fire Series, begins with a howl as I finally come home after twelve tense days of evacuation. As I clear brush and trim trees to reduce future fire hazard, I enter a profound intimacy with the land and a blurring of time boundaries.
If you wish to read the Fire Series in order, begin with Lit Up.
Earth Dialogues Announcements
Second Wind: Words & Art of Hope & Resilience
Edited by Kate Avraham & Melody Culver
I am honored to be part of such an amazing collection of poetry, prose, and artwork that offers solace and inspiration during these challenging pandemic times. This book draws from our talented local creative community as well as from authors from all over the country. It would make a wonderful gift to yourself or to those that you care about. All profits go to Community Foundation Santa Cruz County's Covid-19 Response Fund. While it can be purchased on Amazon, if you go to the link below, it will send more funds to the fundraiser. Cost $15.
Interview on KSQD 90.7
I was interviewed by Christine Barrington on “Talk of the Bay." The theme was "Honoring and Protecting Earth Life." We talked about many things, including what motivated me to create Earth Dialogues. You can listen through their website at https://ksqd.org/earth-dialogues-with-marilyn-duhamel/
Christine is a talented interviewer - her questions were deep and thoughtful. This is a wonderful station that is fully supported by the community and therefore is free to speak what feels true about what is happening in our collective world.
Native Animal Rescue "Nature Writer"
I'm so pleased that Santa Cruz Native Animal Rescue asked me to be their "Resident Nature Writer."
It has been such an amazing experience volunteering at their center and rehabbing injured and orphaned animals in my home. In 2020 they took care of over 3000 birds, mammals and reptiles!
Updates for the Benny fans
He's three and a half!
Benny loves camping
Essays are written by Marilyn DuHamel for Earth Dialogues in hopes of increasing connection with the natural world and heightening awareness of endangered wildlife and habitat. In keeping with this goal, feel free to share these essays through social media by clicking the three vertical dots at the top of each posting.