Welcome to Issue 38.3 of Digestable, your daily mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
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Today’s news, fermented:
I woke up this morning to a crane floating outside the window. I’ve been in Vermont, a place I’m lucky to get to spend time in.
The crane dropped its counterweight; moments later, it reeled back, a regal arm of elm in tow, a branch to outsize full trees of fewer years.
This elm is no longer alive, but grew for probably 100 years. Until recently, it was one of a few remaining healthy trees of this kind in the whole state.
Some other trees are in the news today: logged ones and threatened ones. The history of trees on this landmass is inextricably intertwined with the story of colonization and extraction. It is old growth forests that made white loggers rich, and made this place ‘wild’—a designation that both celebrated and doomed what is now this country. Current battles about trees are also proxies about climate change, land restoration, the global economy, the rights of nature, the primacy of human rights over those of trade.
This tree died of Dutch Elm disease, which comes from beetles believed to have originated in Asia. Bringing new disease to a place where living systems are unable to resist it is a cornerstone of this nation’s founding. In the last year, we have seen what can happen when we concurrently destroy ecosystems that can support biodiverse life and travel all around the world.
This tree is also an ancestor, holding memory in its branches and trunk and roots of a millennium of weather and seasons and birds and insects and rodents. Now that the tree is no longer safe to stand where it does, meters from roads and buildings, and vulnerable to high winds and heavy snow, it will take a new form as fuel and furniture.
Watching each branch of the tree’s crown come down fills me with sadness and gratitude. I know it will have more life in a different way—and still, my human brain resists, and wants to mourn this passing of a friend.
Thank you, dear elm.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
Yesterday afternoon, actor Elliot Page posted this essay, coming out as a non-binary transgender person, going by he and they pronouns. Elliot is currently starring in the Netflix show The Umbrella Academyand has appeared in hit movies such as Juno, Inception, and the X-Men franchise.
Elliot's announcement was met with widespread support from many, many people. He's always been a strong and outspoken supporter of the LGBTQI+ community and it's not surprising at all that there's been an outpouring of love for Elliot since he came out. I don't have any additional snark or commentary to include in today's story -- I just wanted to share this uplifting, happy news with all of you this Wednesday morning. Congratulations Elliot!