Oxygen and Wishes

Kachemak Bay in June


It’s raining today–a beautiful, windless, cool summer rain. It’s filling our rain barrels, settling the dust, watering our garden. Everything is green. Bright green. Alive green. New green. I open the front door. I inhale. I hold the air in my lungs for as long as I can. I let it out slowly.

I put on a rain jacket and pick greens from our garden. Every plant is growing at a miraculous rate. Each leaf is crisp and succulent. It is food and it is medicine and I want for everyone in the world to feel the satisfying crunch of this fresh bok choy, taste this raw spinach a second after it’s picked.  I want for everyone to hear the squirrels chattering in the spruce trees and the golden-crowned sparrows calling to one another in the open meadow. I want for everyone to breathe deeply of this morning’s air.

Right now, my mother in law is having a hard time. A few months ago she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which is a hardening of the lung tissue. She needs supplemental oxygen–each day a little more than the last.

When I think of her, I find myself conscious of breath. I fill my lungs with a little more air than I normally would. I imagine oxygen finding it’s way to every part of my body.


This afternoon I am meeting friends and acquaintances, community members and strangers by the Seafarer’s Memorial on the Homer Spit. We’re going to make our wishes known and we’re hoping our pleas won’t fall on deaf ears.

Later this month, the United States Navy is planning to begin training exercises in the Gulf of Alaska. They have a permit to use live artillery and sonar to practice for war. The training is scheduled to happen for the next five summers during key breeding and migratory periods for marine life. By the Navy’s own estimation, the impact will be detrimental to as many as 182,000 marine mammals.

So we’re going with our homemade signs and our kayaks. We’re going with our bicycles and our skiffs. We’re asking the United States Navy to listen to us. We’re asking them to change their plans to accommodate the migratory animals. We’re hoping they’ll remember that the Gulf of Alaska is not a strategic military or political space but rather a life-giving body of water that is worthy of our protection.


Looking out my window, past the tomato plants on the sill, past the garden in my front yard, I see portions of Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains. I think of my mother in law, fighting for every breath. I think of the ocean life, unaware and undeserving of the battle that’s about to be inflicted upon it. I am heavy with gratitude and sorrow and wishes.

I want a world where war games aren’t necessary. I want everyone to feel the sense of satisfaction I felt when I stepped into the cool rain this morning. I want the world to change. So I make my homemade signs and I pick a lunch salad from my garden. I write words on a page and I take one deep breath, and then another.


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