It’s been an unusually hot day today. High was 87. In the evening, after dinner, I watch the French news on my laptop, Le journal de France 2 vingt heures. I listen to it in French for two reasons, the first being my ongoing struggle to learn French, and the joy of hearing it spoken, the second being the obliqueness of getting a view of the world through another country. I have nothing but disgust for what passes as journalism in the United States. It’s all lies and propaganda, information biased in favor of powerful corporate entities, the technocracy in particular, and the military-industrial complex. The news in France also, I’m sure, reflects a corporate bias, but it’s significantly less aggressive, a little less distorted, and centered more around human communities. The news tonight is particularly terrifying, and has to do with the severe megadrought France has been experiencing. The segment, titled Climat : la sécheresse sévit toujours dans 93 départements (Climate: drought still rages in 93 departments), shows two satellite images of France; the one from just a year ago shows a France that is still largely green. The other one shows a France yellowed by the lack of water. They haven’t had such low levels of precipitation since 1959. Currently, precipitation is at a few millimeters to almost zero. Rivers – including the Loire – are dried up, their beds caked mud with threads of water trickling through. The fields of agricultural growth are dry, short, and brittle, barely any life to it at all. The dirt is more dust than dirt.
The situation in the U.S. isn’t much better. California and the southwest have been devasted by drought and wildfires. Lake Mead and Lake Powell could feasibly be gone in a few months. The future of food in our grocery stores is beginning to look increasingly threatened.
It’s hard getting mustard in France. The problem is seeds. There’s a shortage of seeds that affects the whole planet. Canada, the world’s largest supplier, experienced a historic drought last summer that destroyed a third of its mustard seed production.
I love mustard. This is a worry. Among many other worries. Worry has become the mustard seasoning my life. The yellow spicy flavor of worry that roils the static of my hot dog.
The mustard is all over the New Testament. In Mathew, for example, 13:31-32, “He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
This is true: the mustard seed becomes a tree. I didn’t know that.
It fascinates me no end that colossal sequoias and redwood come from tiny – and by tiny I mean miniscule, about the size of a pinhead – and the many implications to be drawn from that. What was the seed out of which Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables grew? Or The House of Grimaldi? How many palimpsestic layers in a single word?
“Longing is like the seed / That wrestles in the ground / Believing if it intercede / It shall at length be found.” Emily Dickinson.
If words could repair the world, I would if I could make everything wood.