November Reflections and Connections

Carol A. Hand

Reflections – November 1, 2017

Do you ever have mornings when a question plays in your thoughts and you don’t know the answer? This morning, as I gazed at the trees on this first day of November, I wondered if they process carbon dioxide in the winter. The answers I found are fascinating. Maybe everyone else learned this and remembers. But just in case, I thought others might find the answers interesting, too.

The first question that came to mind – Do trees process carbon dioxide (CO2) in winter?

Birch Tree in November, 2016

The answer –

“Most of the land mass of the earth is in the northern hemisphere, and most of the vegetation is Northern hemisphere. During autumn and winter, the leaves fall and exhale carbon dioxide (through decomposition). Throughout the spring and summer days, leaves grow and inhale carbon dioxide. So, when it’s winter in the northern hemisphere, global CO2 levels rise quite sharply and fall again during the warmer months.” (Michael Bloch, 2006, November 30. “Deciduous trees and carbon dioxide,” available at

Another site offered a more global, connected perspective.

“In general, it is inevitable (whether or not trees lose their leaves) that photosynthesis should reduce during the winter months, simply because there is less sunlight through the winter months. The question is as to where greater photosynthesis is happening, in the southern hemisphere (with large oceans, and more marine algae), or in the northern hemisphere (much great land masses), so which winter is the more significant (that of the north or that of the south)? Then you have the additional issue that as oceans get colder in winter, they will dissolve more CO2, and as they get warmer in the summer they will release some of this CO2 back into the atmosphere (this is also made more difficult to judge because of the complexities of the ocean currents).” (The Naked Scientists, 2007, July 10. “Carbon Dioxide in Winter,” available at

February 3, 2017

Winter, or rather, below freezing temperatures, affect photosynthesis for coniferous trees as well. (Ayumi Tanaka (2007), “Photosynthetic activity in winter needles of the evergreen tree Taxus cuspidata at low temperatures (2007), Tree Physiology 27, 641–648 © 2007 Heron Publishing—Victoria, Canada).

There is so much to learn about the complex interconnections on earth and how much we all depend on each and every being that shares the same tiny home. The most critical processes are often invisible. It makes me wonder about an educational system that fails in many cases to recognize our interdependence and responsibility for inclusive stewardship. In school, I learned how to dissect things, name all their parts with Latin words, and a little about how other living beings interact with their immediate environments. But we often don’t learn about the interconnections within a larger context, and the importance of helping to maintain the delicate balance necessary for all life to harmonize as each unique being performs its functions as part of a grand symphony throughout the millennia.

I’m grateful for the winter that brings rest for trees and the scent of new fallen snow, even if the air is laden with more CO2.

Reflections – November 6, 2017

The first Monday after
artificial “time” seasonal adjustment
allows me to wake “early”
greeted by the morning sun
streaming through the window
illuminating things that carry memories
with light and a golden glow

Morning Glow – November 6, 2017

I breathe in the light
so rare these days
highlighting poignant memories
of other times and places

The sewing table, now folded,
a legacy from my mother
like the skill I learned as a child
There was a time when I sewed often
with an old secondhand “portable” Necchi machine
if one can honestly call a 50 pound machine portable
but it traveled the country with me
from Los Angeles to Illinois,
to Massachusetts then Connecticut
to Wisconsin, Montana, and back
It’s how I clothed myself at times
and my daughter when she was a child
After decades, I had to retire the Necchi
when it could no longer be repaired

There are days when I can relate
to the feeling that one may no longer
be able to serve a useful purpose
The prayer flags hanging on the open door
symbolize family connections and repaired vision
but I honestly don’t know how
to repair a heart that keeps breaking
from senseless wars and destruction
or from cruelty and tragedy everyday

But today, I awoke to sunshine
with the awareness that I can still breathe
and do small things – trying to be mindful
and compassionate regardless of context
while I am here

34 thoughts on “November Reflections and Connections

  1. Carol, thanks for sharing your heartfelt reflection.

    “I honestly don’t know how / to repair a heart that keeps breaking / from senseless wars and destruction / or from cruelty and tragedy everyday”
    ~ I believe that, as a nation, we are in denial of our brokenness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Rosaliene. I realized the depth of my sorrow when I was listening to the challenges students in my class are trying to balance in these times. They’re studying a discipline, social work, while they work, commute, and take care of families. Even if they can find jobs when they graduate, they know they will never become wealthy. They’re studying and taking out student loans because they care about oppression and others who are less fortunate. There’s so little I can do to change the contexts that make change necessary and so difficult for those who care.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. But the mere fact that you and millions of others do care helps counteract the words and actions of those who have another agenda, and that matters a whole lot.
    I used to have an old black Singer hand-driven machine for many years before I was forced to give it away because it was too heavy for me. My daughter learned to sew on it.
    We also have a cabinet treadle machine that was given to my mother-in-law for her 21st birthday. Sadly, no-one uses it and no-one in the family wants it, it’s very heavy to move and the cabinet is very careworn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Chris, and for sharing your wonderful stories about old sewing machines. I do have a newer one, but I do miss my old Necchi. Perhaps I’d be more inclined to sew these days if I still had it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In one of the Jewish traditions it is believed that despite man’s chaos God will not destroy the world as long as there are 36 good people on the planet. You try to be one of those 36 and maybe you are and ordinary goodness is enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I too awoke to bright sunshine if colder temperatures today. It is winter after all and a cold wind is blowing from the N-East, from the Fraser River canyon and our largest inland body of water here, Harrison lake. The Teachers taught me that when nature creates change around me it is telling me to open myself up to the changes; to allow my body to attune itself, to “tune up” the immune system so it can continue to function optimally regardless of conditions. I was taught we were designed to accommodate all natural change (barring of course catastrophes but in a world where everybody is mobile such can usually be mostly avoided – we’ve forgotten that part!) and live long, healthy lives. I tested that on myself and I’ve reached 71 years, the last 40 or more without any intervention from drugs or the medical system. I self-heal, much like animals in nature. It works, what more can I say but to add that these latter years have been the very best of my life? Civilization has made nature into the enemy but it is civilization that will fail, not nature.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lovely description of your morning awakening, Sha’Tara. To be honest, I am usually healthy, too, and able to avoid using medical services, but not always. I prefer Reiki. It helps heal a lot of things, even pneumonia, but it couldn’t heal a cataract, glaucoma, or debilitating back injuries. Nonetheless, I avoid medications, vaccinations, and invasive routine exams, knowing that if I remember to live wisely, with compassion and integrity, my life will be as long as it’s meant to be. But there are times when I grow weary…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I agree, our interdependence and connectivity to each other in life is so important and is vital to teach in our schools. Each of us need to take responsibility for this knowledge. A wonderful post of insight and reflection. Thank you Carol. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Carol, you write: “There is so much to learn about the complex interconnections on earth and how much we all depend on each and every being that shares the same tiny home” I absolutely agree and it’s the theme of a book I am reading at the moment: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wolhleben. I’m not sure I can heartily recommend it yet as it doesn’t capture my attention too well, but he brings out the inter-relationships very well between individual trees, trees and fungi, trees and other living organisms etc.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Jkaybay. I’m glad to hear that you found the book Denzil mentions interesting. It is. You might also be interested in a book by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013), Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Denzil. I’m glad to hear you’re reading Peter Wohlleben’s book. I have only read portions of it as a foundation for a class I co-taught last spring ( Nonetheless, his work has continued to inspire me to learn more about trees. I look forward to your final review. Although I too have his book, I’m not sure that I will ever have time to return to read the rest of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I always enjoy your beautifully poetic words, but I’d like to comment on the first part of your post.

    As you wrote, we learn to analyze the world around us and to label “things” in our European-American educational system. And we’re taught to do this with a simplistic mindset instead of understanding the complex relationships of all living beings. We memorize names and numbers instead of learning an appreciation for the beautiful, delicate balance of nature. Of course, understanding certain scientific concepts can help us better preserve the planet, but only if proper resources are allocated to it. That’s where the problem is: an imbalance that causes us to not turn much of our knowledge into wisdom.

    This flaw is exacerbated by the social system we’ve designed which promotes progress (destroying other life forms and seeing them as things we need to enjoy our lives) through advancing technology and exerting control over the outside world instead of learning to control our selves. Few of us realize the true cost of this way of life. We define quality of life in dollars and cents instead of air, soil and water quality, cooperation between species and even our own true appreciation of life.

    I could go on, but I’m already rambling. 😆

    Thank you for another beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your crucial observations about the contrasts between differing ways of determining “what matters,” A Shift in Consciousness. To some, it’s the wonder and beauty of life and what could be. You have described the antithetical alternative perspectives held by many Euro-Americans in power very well, and the disastrous consequences that inevitably follow. Thank you your your always thoughtful and thought-provoking comments, and for your kind words as well. 🙂


  8. “But today, I awoke to sunshine
    with the awareness that I can still breathe
    and do small things – trying to be mindful
    and compassionate regardless of context
    while I am here.”

    Your thoughts on gratitude, awareness, mindfulness, and compassion remind me to find happiness and beauty in the small things around me and in nature – thank you for sharing your thoughts and words.

    Liked by 1 person

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