Radical Joy Revealed
April 2, 2014
Dear Friends of Radical Joy for Hard Times,

Welcome to Radical Joy Revealed, a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places. We hope you'll enjoy these doorways into places that are both familiar and surprising, and we welcome your suggestions, stories, and photos. Click here to subscribe.

Dance of the Mergansers

Red-breasted mergansers. Photo by soenke

Visiting the oily, noisy shores of Newark, New Jersey, author Dan North discovers that mergansers are oblivious to--or know how to transcend--their conditions:  


Mergansers were diving together here long before today's diesel fumes, tank farms and garbage dumps. They were here many millennia before landfill reduced the Hackensack meadowlands to half their original size and invasive phragmites crowded out native reeds. Mergansers dove here long before industrialization brought paint, varnish, hat, leather, jewelry, fertilizer, defoliant and pesticide factories to the Passaic's Newark shore. They fished these shallows eons before the New York, Philadelphia and Washington 19th century

vacationing aristocracy swam and sailed from the 200-room colonnaded, turreted, flag-bedecked La Tourette Hotel on Bayonne's Newark Bay shoreline. Mergansers wintered here long before the Native Americans, Dutch and English discovered this then-pristine bay. Now, as our carbon emissions begin to further transform the planet in unimaginable ways, mergansers still dive together here. Seeing them is a gift that no amount of plastic bags flapping in the stunted bayside willows can spoil, and I'll take it.  

(To read Dan's entire essay, click here.) 

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Radical Joy for Hard Times is a global community dedicated to finding and making beauty in wounded places. Reconnecting with these places, sharing our stories of loss and despair, and making acts of beauty there, we transform the land, reconnect people and the places that nourish them, and empower ourselves to make a difference in the way we live on Earth.
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