Now comes Greta Erlich with some of the most insightful and moving words ever written about glaciers, as wildfires continue to rage through the Siberian Arctic, in the midst of a record-shattering heat wave.
Her entire meditation can be found in the pages of the exceptionally worthwhile Orion magazine. Excerpts below, with images from Basia Irland’s revelatory Ice Books project.
About her Ice Books, Basia Irland writes:
River water is frozen, carved into the form of a book, embedded with an “ecological language” or “riparian text” consisting of local native seeds, and placed back into the stream. The seeds are released as the ice melts in the current. Those who contribute to or participate in the Ice Book launches are determined by the location. Along the Nisqually River in Washington, for example, Nisqually Tribal Members, salmon restoration specialists, musicians, fifth graders attending WaHeLut Indian School, students and professors from Evergreen State College, Forest Rangers, all joined in the ice book launches. Participants in New Mexico on the Rio Grande have included artists, farmers, acequia majordomos, college students, professors, hydrologists, Pueblo members, and hundreds of interested watershed citizens.
Ice Receding/Books Reseeding emphasizes the necessity of communal effort and scientific knowledge to deal with the complex issues of climate disruption and watershed restoration by releasing seed-laden ephemeral ice sculptures into rivers. I work with stream ecologists, biologists, and botanists to ascertain the best seeds for each specific riparian zone. When an ecosystem is restored and the plants grow along the riverbanks they give back to us by helping sequester carbon, mitigating floods and drought, pollinating other plants, dispersing seeds, holding the banks in place (slowing erosion), creating soil regeneration and preservation, acting as filters for pollutants and debris, supplying leaf-litter (for food and habitat), promoting aesthetic pleasure, and providing shelter/shade for riverside organisms including humans.