Preview of the Future

Beginning around 5:30 this morning a line of severe thunderstorms came through Indianola, Iowa.

I don’t remember ever being in a storm when there was continuous lightning for a prolonged time. The wind caused trees to violently whip around and nearly bow to the ground. Almost three inches of rain fell during the nearly one hour the storm raged.

I thought about the recent experience of my friend Peter Clay (who was also on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March referenced below). You get a sense of the magnitude of both the physical damage to the land, and the emotional damage to Peter. The Iowa Land Acknowledgement Statement found at the end of this relates to Peter’s reference to “stolen land”. (I appreciate Peter giving me permission to share this.)

On July 19th, just two days after I returned to our stolen land in northeast Wisconsin, a monster storm destroyed our entire ten acre Red Pine plantation around me. I was inside our cabin, which also made it through the 100 mph winds pretty much unscathed. In the surrounding mixed hardwood forest around the now former pine plantation the devastation was also horrific, with many of the places most sacred and special to me utterly unrecognizable now, with huge, noble trees lying splintered and supine. I am now 69 and have been in relationship to this land since the age of 9, when my parents first planted Red Pines here. I’m still in shock, numb and traumatized.

And when Peter returned later:

The devastation on our family/stolen land is even more devastating than I had previously known. I arrived back here on Saturday, August 17th. On Sunday, I traveled through the mixed forest surrounding the now former Red Pine plantation. Up to 90 percent of the large oak trees are down, most of the large maples, popple/aspen and on and on it goes. It is almost impossible to even travel through the destruction. Our logger will have a difficult time even figuring out how to do the salvage logging of these tree persons. I am trying to take in that the forest as I have known it for most of my life has been completely destroyed. I have no idea what healing looks like, for the land or for me. I will continue laying down virtually all formal roles or responsibilities that I have, Quaker and non-Quaker, for the indefinite future. I don’t have the energy or interest anymore.

Peter Clay

We did experience some severe thunderstorms during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March last September. The following are descriptions of the storm the first night of the March. Rain was predicted for the entire week of the March. Although there was rain for the next few days, the last couple of days were dry.

We had prolonged, severe thunderstorms for much of the night. Lots of lightening and thunder. Again I was surprised at how well the tent held up, keeping the water out. There were times when the intensity of the rain could only be described as a downpour. I did get a little concerned when for about a 15 minutes the wind was blowing so strongly that side of the tent bowed inward. I was thinking of escaping to the farm’s shed, but was afraid without my weight, the tent might blow away.

Jeff Kisling,

I couldn’t believe how hard the rain was falling during that storm. I recorded the sound of the rain falling on my tent that night:

Rain and thunder

Ed Fallon wrote “I’m a veteran tent-dweller, yet have never seen my tent pummeled so mercilessly by the driving rain that hit us in the middle of the night. It was as if buckets of water were being hurled against the sides of the tent. I worried that the nearby ditch between our tents and the road would fill with water and wash over the field where we camped. That didn’t happen, but if our first night’s rainfall had been as bad as some storms that Iowa has seen in recent years, that field could have indeed been swamped.”

First Night of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March

It is predicted there will be more frequent and severe storms with our evolving environmental catastrophe. During this morning’s storm, with the power out, I realized this may soon be the norm as widespread areas of no energy result from damage to the infrastructure, breakdown of the energy grid from increased use for air conditioning as temperatures continue to climb, and less energy production.

Sitting in the dark this morning I thought about the breakdown of the Internet, and how I couldn’t receive news, publish this blog, etc. No electricity would mean spoiled food. So many things that millions of people have never had. We need to start preparing for these and other changes to come now.

We begin by acknowledging that the Land between Two Rivers, where we sit and stand today, has been the traditional homeland for many independent nations. These include the Ioway and the Otoe, who were here since before recorded time. The Omaha and the Ponca were here, moving to new lands before white settlers arrived. The Pawnee used this land for hunting grounds. The Sioux, Sauk and Meskwaki were here long before European settlers came. Members of many different Indigenous nations have lived on these plains. Let us remember that we occupy their homeland and that this land was taken by force. Today, only the Meskwaki Nation, the Red Earth People, maintain their sovereignty on their land in the state of Iowa. They persevered and refused to be dispossessed of their home. Place names all over our state recognize famous Meskwaki chiefs of the 1800s like Poweshiek, Wapello, Appanoose, and Taiomah or Tama. We honor the Meskwaki Nation for their courage, and for maintaining their language, culture and spirituality. May our time together bring respectful new openings for right relationship to grow.


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