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LMRD 715, March 30, 2019
~~weekend edition~~
Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

~Voice of the Lower Mississippi River~

All things Great and Small

~~In this Issue~~

1) Why the 1st day?

2) New Direction -- Clarksdale: Rejoin Paris Accord!

3) Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner

"...All things Great and Small
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all..."

(The Water, Water Pop-Up Invitational refers to this poem, a favorite of Walter Anderson's. You'll find the entire text below. I recently re-read and was surprised by certain aspects not before noticed.)

4) Rumi on Fasting

Upcoming Events:


~Earth Hour:

Earth Hour takes place on Saturday 30 March at 8.30pm local time, wherever you are in the world. Will you join us?

Monday, April 1:

~22 Months: 22 Hours
April will be 22 months since the US left the Paris Accord (June 1, 2017); if you are joining us, fast for 22 hours on Monday, April 1st.

All things Great and Small:
We All Breathe the Same Air
We All Drink the Same Water

Monday, April 1, 22 hours

April will be 22 months since the US left the Paris Accord (June 1, 2017), so if you are joining us, fast for 22 hours on Monday, April 1st. Suggestion: start fast at 12 midnight (which is easy — while you are sleeping!) and stop 22 hours later, at 10pm. Every month following add on one hour. So in May, 23 hours, June, 24 hours, and etc. I will send out a simple monthly reminder, but nothing more. Participation is purely voluntary of course.

New Direction: Clarksdale Petition

We’ve decided that there is no way our president will ever go back on this, so we are re-focusing efforts locally and are going to instead petition our Clarksdale leaders to adopt the Paris Accord, and make its goals our goals: to reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025. (PS: We’re not alone in this —18 states and 160 cities have already committed, including nearby Nashville and Birmingham). I have created an online petition at, go here to sign on! Anyone can sign it, and we hope you all do in support of our effort. Your positive input will have a beneficial effect. Even though ultimately it will be those with Clarksdale or Coahoma County Zip Codes that count, we need your moral support! We will be reporting on the effort here. Maybe someday you will be inspired to do the same in your own community? Eventually we'll connect all he dots and take it coast-to-coast. We're all in this together!

Add 1 Hour on the 1st Day of Each Month

Monday, if the first day of the month of April. We had to sideline our monthly cycle of fasting last year, but it’s time to get going again. Many of you have written me and expressed just how meaningful that practice was in 2017. And now the earth is calling more than ever. So it seems like a good time to restart the monthly cycle, with a new mechanism: on the 1st day of the month. We Started March 1st fasting the number of hours that equals the number of months since the US left the Paris Accord (May 2017). March will be 21 months, so we fasted for 21 hours in March. Start fast at 12 midnight Monday morning and stop 21 hours later at 9pm. Every month following add on one hour. So in May 23 hours, June 24 hours, and etc. I will send out a simple monthly reminder, and restart the petition, but nothing more. Participation is purely voluntary of course.

Why the Cycle of Fasting?

Why did we start this cycle of fasting? We are committing ourselves again to a renewed cycle of fasting due to the trauma mother earth is suffering with the U.S. departure from the Paris Climate Accord. Also, hitting home: this ill-made decision has negatively affected our business in nature tourism. We link arms with the Mississippi River mayors and many other mayors, businesses and organizations nationwide, and encourage America to rejoin.

Why the 1st day?

Why the 1st day? The US left the Paris Accord on June 1, 2017. So it’s an infamous date to signify. But more importantly, the 1st day opens up new opportunity: the 1st day of the year, or the 1st day of the week, or the 1st day of the month. It’s like a journey. The 1st day sets the course for what follows. The first day of the year is that day we make our resolutions for a better life. The first day of the month is a new beginning in a fresh month. It’s the day when all the doors are open, and the possibilities seem limitless. Every morning the world is remade, and every day is a new day. Every month a new month to remake the world. The 1st day is the 1st day of the rest of your life, it is the 1st step on the long journey ahead, it is the 1st paddle-stroke downstream and into the wonderful mysteries that lie waiting around the bend. And all creation is suffering, and could use a little mercy now.

Fasting Hints:

Hint: personally I am most successful at fasting when I do it in nature. If possible include a long walk or hike, a campout, or an overnight canoe trip as part of your fast. It’s easy: don't pack any food. You’ll find you think about eating a lot less when you're surrounded by nature, and the temptation of food will be removed by not packing any. But be sure to pack plenty of water! Every time you feel a growl in your stomach take a sip of water. Write me if you need help or support. If you live anywhere close to Clarksdale, or Gulfport, join me on the water.

Embarrassment Continues to Smolder Across the Globe

Is anyone up for this? The US left the Paris Accord on June 1, 2017. This embarrassment continues to smolder across the globe, along with smoldering forests and increasing rates of warming and carbon output. The 2018 US rate is greater than previously predicted. The polar caps are melting faster than predicted. Penguins, orcas and starfish are in dire straits, all God’s creatures are dangerously effected. We burn more fuel than any other nation except China, and yet we are the only ones not to sign the accord. You can join in on this fast to meet your own personal or religious purposes. Doing it together makes it more meaningful, both personally and communally. Besides hundreds of North Americans, We have friends from Argentina, Austria, England, Sweden, Japan, Australia and elsewhere around the globe who joined us last time we fasted. Their countries had signed, but they joined our quest anyway because they believe in us N. Americans, and the atmosphere knows no boundaries.

Waters Connect Us All; We All Breathe The Same Air

The waters connect us all, and we all breathe the same air. And our time is running out. The Harvard Business Review gives us 12 years to figure this out (see below for article). Fasting is a simple thing, and will help the solution, for at least 1/30th of the average month. Our president won't budge on this, but you can work with your local and state leaders to adopt carbon-cutting measures independently. If you want to make your fast even more effective, turn off the lights, your computer, your heating & cooling systems, and step outside — and don’t make any purchases. Make it a day for creation. The only way we will figure this out is when we embrace it whole-heartedly, mentally, physically, and spiritually. As recommended above, leave your house and spend a day in nature. Make it a “Date with Creation.” Bring a notebook, pens, pencils, for writing and sketching. Practice your art form, whatever it is. Explore new art forms. Pack a prayer book or other inspirational reading for when things get slow. Pack a hammock. Nap a lot. Meditate. Be prepared for visions. Record your dreams. If you cannot take a day off, incorporate fasting into your work day. Yes, it will be uncomfortable at times, but you will feel great at the end of the fast, and those temporary stomach pains will pass, and your small effort will help ease the suffering of the all.

Regain the Balance

We are all about balance, in our canoes, in our work, in our lives. Let's regain balance and rejoin the Paris Accord…. If not nationwide, then town by town, and state by state, Our Paddles Up and a Big River Blessing to you all!


There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.

We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox

is stuffed full of anything, no music.

If the brain and belly are burning clean

with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.

The fog clears, and new energy makes you

run up the steps in front of you.

When you fast, good habits gather like friends who want to help.

Fasting is Solomon’s ring. Don’t give it

to some illusion and lose your power,

but even if you have, if you’ve lost all will and control,

they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing

out of the ground, pennants flying above them.

A table descends to your tents, spread with other food,

better than the broth of cabbages.

~Jelaluddin Rumi

(Dale Sanders: Oldest Man to Paddle Mississippi)

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
(text of 1834)

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge


How a Ship having passed the Line was driven by storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole; and how from thence she made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country.


It is an ancient Mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three.

'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,

Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,

And I am next of kin;

The guests are met, the feast is set:

May'st hear the merry din.'

He holds him with his skinny hand,

'There was a ship,' quoth he.

'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'

Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye—

The Wedding-Guest stood still,

And listens like a three years' child:

The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:

He cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Mariner.

'The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,

Merrily did we drop

Below the kirk, below the hill,

Below the lighthouse top.

The Sun came up upon the left,

Out of the sea came he!

And he shone bright, and on the right

Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,

Till over the mast at noon—'

The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,

For he heard the loud bassoon.

The bride hath paced into the hall,

Red as a rose is she;

Nodding their heads before her goes

The merry minstrelsy.

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,

Yet he cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Mariner.

And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he

Was tyrannous and strong:

He struck with his o'ertaking wings,

And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,

As who pursued with yell and blow

Still treads the shadow of his foe,

And forward bends his head,

The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,

And southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,

And it grew wondrous cold:

And ice, mast-high, came floating by,

As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts

Did send a dismal sheen:

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—

The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,

The ice was all around:

It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an Albatross,

Thorough the fog it came;

As if it had been a Christian soul,

We hailed it in God's name.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,

And round and round it flew.

The ice did split with a thunder-fit;

The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;

The Albatross did follow,

And every day, for food or play,

Came to the mariner's hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,

It perched for vespers nine;

Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,

Glimmered the white Moon-shine.'

'God save thee, ancient Mariner!

From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—

Why look'st thou so?'—With my cross-bow

I shot the ALBATROSS.


The Sun now rose upon the right:

Out of the sea came he,

Still hid in mist, and on the left

Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,

But no sweet bird did follow,

Nor any day for food or play

Came to the mariner's hollo!

And I had done a hellish thing,

And it would work 'em woe:

For all averred, I had killed the bird

That made the breeze to blow.

Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,

That made the breeze to blow!

Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,

The glorious Sun uprist:

Then all averred, I had killed the bird

That brought the fog and mist.

'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,

That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free;

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,

'Twas sad as sad could be;

And we did speak only to break

The silence of the sea!

All in a hot and copper sky,

The bloody Sun, at noon,

Right up above the mast did stand,

No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!

That ever this should be!

Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs

Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout

The death-fires danced at night;

The water, like a witch's oils,

Burnt green, and blue and white.

And some in dreams assurèd were

Of the Spirit that plagued us so;

Nine fathom deep he had followed us

From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought,

Was withered at the root;

We could not speak, no more than if

We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks

Had I from old and young!

Instead of the cross, the Albatross

About my neck was hung.


There passed a weary time. Each throat

Was parched, and glazed each eye.

A weary time! a weary time!

How glazed each weary eye,

When looking westward, I beheld

A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,

And then it seemed a mist;

It moved and moved, and took at last

A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!

And still it neared and neared:

As if it dodged a water-sprite,

It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,

We could nor laugh nor wail;

Through utter drought all dumb we stood!

I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,

And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,

Agape they heard me call:

Gramercy! they for joy did grin,

And all at once their breath drew in.

As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!

Hither to work us weal;

Without a breeze, without a tide,

She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame.

The day was well nigh done!

Almost upon the western wave

Rested the broad bright Sun;

When that strange shape drove suddenly

Betwixt us and the Sun.

And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,

(Heaven's Mother send us grace!)

As if through a dungeon-grate he peered

With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)

How fast she nears and nears!

Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,

Like restless gossameres?

Are those her ribs through which the Sun

Did peer, as through a grate?

And is that Woman all her crew?

Is that a DEATH? and are there two?

Is DEATH that woman's mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,

Her locks were yellow as gold:

Her skin was as white as leprosy,

The Night-mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,

Who thicks man's blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,

And the twain were casting dice;

'The game is done! I've won! I've won!'

Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out;

At one stride comes the dark;

With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea,

Off shot the spectre-bark.

We listened and looked sideways up!

Fear at my heart, as at a cup,

My life-blood seemed to sip!

The stars were dim, and thick the night,

The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white;

From the sails the dew did drip—

Till clomb above the eastern bar

The hornèd Moon, with one bright star

Within the nether tip.

One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,

Too quick for groan or sigh,

Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,

And cursed me with his eye.

Four times fifty living men,

(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)

With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,

They dropped down one by one.

The souls did from their bodies fly,—

They fled to bliss or woe!

And every soul, it passed me by,

Like the whizz of my cross-bow!


'I fear thee, ancient Mariner!

I fear thy skinny hand!

And thou art long, and lank, and brown,

As is the ribbed sea-sand.

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,

And thy skinny hand, so brown.'—

Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!

This body dropt not down.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,

Alone on a wide wide sea!

And never a saint took pity on

My soul in agony.

The many men, so beautiful!

And they all dead did lie:

And a thousand thousand slimy things

Lived on; and so did I.

I looked upon the rotting sea,

And drew my eyes away;

I looked upon the rotting deck,

And there the dead men lay.

I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;

But or ever a prayer had gusht,

A wicked whisper came, and made

My heart as dry as dust.

I closed my lids, and kept them close,

And the balls like pulses beat;

For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky

Lay dead like a load on my weary eye,

And the dead were at my feet.

The cold sweat melted from their limbs,

Nor rot nor reek did they:

The look with which they looked on me

Had never passed away.

An orphan's curse would drag to hell

A spirit from on high;

But oh! more horrible than that

Is the curse in a dead man's eye!

Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,

And yet I could not die.

The moving Moon went up the sky,

And no where did abide:

Softly she was going up,

And a star or two beside—

Her beams bemocked the sultry main,

Like April hoar-frost spread;

But where the ship's huge shadow lay,

The charmèd water burnt alway

A still and awful red.

Beyond the shadow of the ship,

I watched the water-snakes:

They moved in tracks of shining white,

And when they reared, the elfish light

Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship

I watched their rich attire:

Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,

They coiled and swam; and every track

Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue

Their beauty might declare:

A spring of love gushed from my heart,

And I blessed them unaware:

Sure my kind saint took pity on me,

And I blessed them unaware.

The self-same moment I could pray;

And from my neck so free

The Albatross fell off, and sank

Like lead into the sea.


Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,

Beloved from pole to pole!

To Mary Queen the praise be given!

She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,

That slid into my soul.

The silly buckets on the deck,

That had so long remained,

I dreamt that they were filled with dew;

And when I awoke, it rained.

My lips were wet, my throat was cold,

My garments all were dank;

Sure I had drunken in my dreams,

And still my body drank.

I moved, and could not feel my limbs:

I was so light—almost

I thought that I had died in sleep,

And was a blessed ghost.

And soon I heard a roaring wind:

It did not come anear;

But with its sound it shook the sails,

That were so thin and sere.

The upper air burst into life!

And a hundred fire-flags sheen,

To and fro they were hurried about!

And to and fro, and in and out,

The wan stars danced between.

And the coming wind did roar more loud,

And the sails did sigh like sedge,

And the rain poured down from one black cloud;

The Moon was at its edge.

The thick black cloud was cleft, and still

The Moon was at its side:

Like waters shot from some high crag,

The lightning fell with