Connie May Fowler's Blog:

July 23, 2017

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Published on July 23, 2017 06:09 • 87 views

July 7, 2017

April 23, 2017

The Hammock

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Published on April 23, 2017 06:07 • 9 views

April 13, 2017

“A Million Fragile Bones stands as testament to the devastation
caused by the greed and irresponsibility that lead to environmental
disasters, to all creatures, human and otherwise.”

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Published on April 13, 2017 12:14 • 10 views

April 12, 2017

April 8, 2017

“In the memoir, you see me working out what is sacred to me and why. I
think identifying what and why is deceptively complex. It took me years
to recognize that much of my need to find refuge in nature was a
daughter’s attempt to remain connected to her long-dead father. What now
seems like an obvious truth came to me only through the writing. And
also this: I learned knowledge not only gives you power, it gives you
courage. I wept for years. I grieved with a purity that could break
stone. And now I am ready to do the necessary work, to fight for what is
left, for what I love, for what this good Earth needs.”~~From my Flavorwire Interview with Sarah Seltzer. A MILLION FRAGILE BONES comes out April 20 and can be pre-ordered now.

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Published on April 08, 2017 09:16 • 44 views

April 5, 2017

Here is an excerpt from my environmental memoir, A MILLION FRAGILE BONES, to be published April 20. Thanks to The Florida Review for publishing it.

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Published on April 05, 2017 09:57 • 6 views

March 30, 2017

March 28, 2017

MARCH 28, 2017

originally penned these words as the Afterword for A MILLION FRAGILE
BONES. Ultimately, my publisher Joan Leggitt and I took it out of the
book because we didn’t feel it was the right fit. However, in light of
the Trump Administration’s decision to prevent the Environmental
Protection Agency from enforcing climate change regulations, I feel
strongly it is time to publish the piece.

Here it is in its entirety.

abiding truth is as simple as it is profound: All living creatures are
threads in a single tapestry of life. The loss of one species, the
anguished deaths of 1,000 dolphins, the slow-oil-agony demise of 800,000
birds affects the entire planet, perhaps even the cosmos. As John Muir
said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached
to the rest of the world.”

We are enlarged, made better, by a
healthy and vibrant Earth. We are not detached beings, divorced from our
planet, only operating on the surface as if we’re bullet trains
impelled by magnetic force, hovering above but never touching the
tracks. We are of the Earth and of the sky. On this, our only home, we
share DNA with every living organism. The worm and the butterfly. The
gnat and the loon. The wolf and the crab. The whale and the ant. We are,
individually and collectively, part of every molecule in our universe
for every living creature is, at its essential self, stardust. One
glance at the Periodic Table of Elements is a view into the building
blocks that sustain and drive the complex lives of stars and every life
form on our planet, including humans. Nitrogen or calcium, iron or
carbon, chromium or nickel: these elements and more are created at the
end of a star’s life when the energy producing nuclear reactions in the
star’s heart cease, resulting in gravitational collapse. Perhaps this is
the source of our origin story, the leitmotif of sacrifice: We are all
sparkling moments of rebirth.

But we are also astonishingly
effective purveyors of death. We destroy a species, an ecosystem, a pod
of dolphins caring for its young, a turtle completing her journey, a
rare and mighty collective of whales that have a song like no one else
in its genus, and we have effectively driven arrows into the very
essence of our humanity. We have diminished our home, the thing that
gives us joy, sustenance, life, an inkling of the holy.

I have a
friend whose hobby is deep-sea diving. She told me she stopped eating
fish after she had several dynamic encounters with grouper. She claimed
they are very curious, intelligent fish that often swim right up to her
and seem to study her. She began making faces at them and the fish made
faces back. She said she could no longer eat them because they are
sentient beings, animals of intelligence with a range of emotions.

is not an act of anthropomorphism but of acute observation and
interaction with her known world. If she’d never had those encounters,
if she’d never paused long enough to notice what the fish were doing and
to risk an interaction, she would have never been moved, changed. She
would have continued to exist in an echo chamber of limited experiences.

have no idea how people harm animals, or clear-cut forests, or shear
off mountaintops, or through greed-fueled negligence destroy rivers and
oceans. In order for humans to slaughter sharks for shark fin soup (they
cut off the shark’s dorsal, pectoral, and caudal fins, leaving the
shark unable to swim, sentencing the animal to a prolonged, horrendous
death), I believe they must enter a mindset similar to that of
combatants: dehumanize your opponent. But in this case, since the
opponent is a non-human animal, I suppose the process would more
accurately be labeled de-recognizing. By de-recognizing another living
being’s value, it’s easier to kill it. How else could one inflict such

And what madness causes men to think rhino tusk powder
will make them more virile? Perhaps it is the same madness that prompts
wealthy American men to travel to Africa and “trophy hunt” (a
de-recognizing phrase—the animal is reduced to the status of object—for a
killing ritual in which all the cards are stacked in favor of the man
with the bait and gun). Somehow, cruelty inspires in these wealthy
hunters, some of whom shoot the animals from the sniper-esque advantage
of helicopters—a fetish-centered belief in the glory of their phalluses.
They de-recognize the world in order to kill it, and for them killing
translates into power, control, sex.

I am no longer naïve. I
understand death is integral, even necessary, to life … sparkling
moments of rebirth. And that people create religions. And that people
fear death.

You must sacrifice that goat, that child, that man, that woman in order to appease the gods.

Believe this man is the Son of God and you will never truly die.

If you live by the Prophet’s rules, you will be given a harem of virgins in heaven (what, I wonder, do the women get?).

are all stories humankind has created in order to make peace with the
inevitable black door of death. But they also prevent us from rationally
dealing with the science of nature. Life begets death, death begets
life. But nature offers balance in the life-death tango. A cyclone
spawns off the coast of Africa and eventually makes its way to the
American plains where it drops enough water to relieve drought and water
crops. When humankind decides to play god, chaos ensues: global climate
change, rising sea levels, acid rain, extinct species, cancer
epidemics, marginalized nutritional values in our food, and an entire
ocean and its inhabitants poisoned.

We are living in a time where
there is increasing awareness that natural disasters are also social
disasters. In an essay titled, “There is No Such Thing as a Natural
Disaster,” anthropologist and geographer Neil Smith writes in reference
to Hurricane Katrina, “In every phase and aspect of a disaster–causes,
vulnerability, preparedness, results and response, and
reconstruction–the contours of disaster and the difference between who
lives and who dies is to a greater or lesser extent a social calculus.”

same holds true for manmade disasters. The Gulf ecosystem and the
people who depend on its health and abundance for their well-being were
already stressed due to a panoply of human factors, the most pressing of
which were agricultural pollutants, the megalopolis called Atlanta and
their mushrooming drinking water supply needs, and the fact that
everything runs downstream. As an Alligator Point neighbor once said to
me, “Every time someone flushes a toilet in Atlanta, the Gulf dies a

Fertilizers and pesticides have affected the Gulf basin
since their introduction post World War II. Indeed, one of the enduring
legacies of a war that was technologically advanced for its era is the
develop[L1]  and reliance on chemicals which, while killing pests, also
destroy waterways and human health.

In order to meet its
ever-growing need for fresh drinking water, Atlanta relentlessly draws
down the Flint, Chattahoochee, and Apalachicola watershed. This system,
when working properly (read: not manipulated by humankind), creates the
salinity balance necessary for thriving oyster beds. The proper flow of
freshwater provides nutrients to the oysters without which they succumb
to illness and predation. But Atlanta, because of its increasing
population, has been manipulating the flow for years. As a result, when
natural or manmade disasters hit the Gulf region, the oyster beds have
an increasingly more difficult time bouncing back. This was the
situation when the BP oil spill occurred. The oyster fields were already
embattled. So, too, were the people who have for generations made their
living off harvesting oysters. This is how a manmade disaster becomes a
social disaster: Take away someone’s ability to make a living,
especially when the livelihood is intractably tied to a cultural way of
life, and everything falls apart—the individual and the community.

the hundreds of hours spent researching material for this book, I
discovered a secret. It’s a secret that is beginning to slowly emerge
from the shadows in large part because of the Internet. Now what was
once a nearly impossible task becomes a matter of keystrokes. I have at
my disposal studies, plans, reports, maps, and diagrams detailing vast
fields of disposed weaponry piled in watery trash heaps in the Gulf of
Mexico. After World War II, without making any ado about it, the
military began using the Gulf as a garbage dump for all manner of
ordnance. A 2015 article published by Texas A & M University
asserts, “The ordinance includes land mines, ocean mines, torpedoes,
aerial bombs and several types of chemical weapons … . The chemical
weapons may have leaked over the decades and could pose a significant
environmental problem. The military began dumping the unexploded bombs
from 1946 to 1970, when the practice was banned.”

And the U.S.
Army sent three soldiers to my shack who were charged with digging up
non-existent ordnance in my yard and all the while chemical weapons were
and are, in all probability, leaking into the Gulf, mixing with
petroleum and dispersant, and nothing is being done to address the
situation. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Do we not
understand that we get one chance to save this planet? And that saving
our planet is the very definition of redemption?

experiencing the manmade destruction of my sacred place, I’ve come to
understand there are people who apparently don’t possess an empathy gene
and, as such, are capable of inflicting massive harm.

ignorance, apathy, and greed are just as dangerous and just as much in
play. Glaciers are becoming their own rivers. Extreme weather is
rampant. Species are disappearing at a rate that is up to 10,000 times
greater than what would happen if humans did not exist. We are creating a
period of extinction, what biologists call the sixth great extinction,
and it is being primarily propelled by our addiction to fossil fuels.

is under three dollars a gallon, prompting a boom in truck sales.
What’s next, the return of the dinosaur-sized, hydrocarbon spewing

The Florida legislature is on the precipice of opening up
the entire state to fracking. This is more evidence we have elected
people who are insane. Florida is essentially a thin crust of limestone
veiling and protecting our lifeblood, the Florida Aquifer. The aquifer
is the source of our drinking water and feeds our natural abundance. The
aquifer is interconnected. You dump poisons in the north and they will
circulate throughout the system. Fracking would bust through the
limestone, contaminating the totality of the water table.

In a
First Amendment-wreaking edict, officials banned Florida Department of
Environmental Protection employees from using the phrases “climate
change” or “global warming.”

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, but the facts on the ground don’t change.

am reminded ever more of the Cree prophecy, “When the last tree is cut
down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will
realize you cannot eat money.”

Prior to drilling underwater
wells, energy companies conduct studies to pinpoint oil deposits below
the ocean floor using sonic cannons. According to Time Magazine, the
cannons “emit sound waves louder than a jet engine every ten seconds for
weeks at a time.” Common sense and science tells us this is detrimental
to marine life. We are stressing our environment—air, water, flora,
fauna—to the breaking point. Sometimes I wonder if the rich and powerful
won’t be sated until everything is gone: all the sweet water, all the
animals, all the good air, all of us … you cannot eat money.

to the excellent 2014 documentary on the Gulf oil disaster, The Great
Invisible, in the past decade 111 energy bills have been proposed in
Congress and only five have become law. Those five contained subsidies
for nuclear and fossil fuel energy sources. The 106 bills that did not
survive all contained alternative energy provisions.

Fact and
metaphor: Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons formed from the remains of dead
animals and plants that died millions of years ago. Their transformation
from corpse to the earth’s hidden blood also took millions of years.
Fossil fuels—dead animals and plants that underwent
transmogrification—are not renewable. Nearly every aspect of our modern
life is fueled with their blood, with the fragile bones of death.

far as I can tell, wind and solar power do not intersect with any
blood, ancient or otherwise. And I suspect the same will hold true for
marvelous energy sources not yet invented. Life fueled on the remains of
a million (and far more) fragile bones is not only unsustainable, it’s
killing us.

Must we do everything in our power to embrace clean,
renewable energy? Resoundingly, yes. What other choice do we have? Our
fossil fuel addiction is a form of slow suicide. And with each tick of
the clock, our demise speeds up. Tick, tick, tick: closer to the brink.

We cannot risk trying to perform CPR on a cadaver. My poor mother tried. It didn’t work. It never does.

In Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese,” she writes:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

us all, with infinite devotion, love this good earth. Let us understand
with greater intimacy the meaning of “home.” Let us love with ever
expanding intention and purpose, placing greater faith in nature and
science. Let us view our planet and all its moving parts—stars,
galaxies, winding rivers—with a shaman’s fierce gaze, a scientist’s deep
knowledge, and a child’s open heart.

Yes. Let us love enough and more than enough. Now. Today. Forever.

–Connie May Fowler

 Cozumel, Mexico

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Published on March 28, 2017 12:55 • 8 views

March 2, 2017

In all the world’s hubbub, finding the peace to create can be a challenge. That’s why we created the VCFA Novel Retreat. Come to Vermont this May and immerse yourself in your writing project in your own private studio. Scholarships are available.

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Published on March 02, 2017 08:15 • 7 views

Connie May Fowler
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