The Biloxi-Chittamacha-Choctaw, Pointe-au-Chien, and Atakapa-Istak Chawasha Indians live in a part of Southern Louisiana that is losing ground. The sediments that once replenished “uninhabitable” swamplands with silt carried from 41% of the lower United States naturally subside. But, the levee system along the Mississippi River diverts almost the entire flow of the river directly into the Gulf of Mexico, carrying the sediment with it. Canals built to service the oil and gas industries and increasingly intense tropical storms have caused severe erosion and allowed salt water to intrude where once all was fresh water. This has killed vegetation, leaving “ghost trees” and removing even more of the land. Added to that, sea level is rising.
Clancey's Stone Lion is across the highway, tucked in by the railroad tracks. It securely anchors tiny Custer, Wisconsin. In spite of my expectations otherwise, I learned that it was closed on Fish Fry Friday, the second night of the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair. Composed of handsome blocks of stone, its wooden shingles lie upon uniquely curved rooftops. A tiny leprechaun peaks out over the top of a sorry potted plant, his raised arms below the rim reaching up in silhouette over my bar table by the window. A pair of shillelaghs adorn the bar, which is well-provisioned. One Irish whiskey label advises us to destroy the bottle when we are done, lest it should fall into the hands of an imposter.
In a quick dash across the road, I enjoy wild-caught cod with the first fresh green vegetables seen in many days. Then, it's back to the Fair, again, for the evening's speech and concert. Last year, a well-timed Clancey's Facebook post announcing "Fresh Blueberry Pie" lured three of us here, the results of which visit are shown, above.
I have come again for the wind turbines, celebrating our homemade machines that transform the powerful breath of our planet into light and heat in an alchemy of electrons, changing air into fire. Local beer, Midsummer sunsets, a full Moon together with planets Mars and Saturn over the Homebrew turbine at the edge of the fairgrounds lead me to fleeting cosmic thoughts. This quickly mixes with nearby small talk about shared passions and commitments, and whether tonight's band is ever going to play any danceable music. What does it take to live "off-grid"? Why do we do what we do? Will the "geezers" successfully hand this ritual celebration off to younger generations? Another memorial tree has been planted in the Arbor of Activism.