Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

I think all of us can agree that 2016 had a bit of a rough run. It was politically charged; it was tragic and sorrowful; it was also beautiful in many ways; and I hope it will open the door to some much needed healing in the year to come. Holding with tradition for the eighth year running, I put together a bit of a recap of the past year seen through the eyes of My Munchable Musings.

This year seemed particularly replete with environmental and social grievances, as if the Anthropocene - the age of Homo sapiens - had finally come into its own. Despite international efforts to overcome poverty and injustice, we are still battling inequalities reminiscent of bygone eras. This was my fifth year Living Below the Line, contemplating the trade-offs the food insecure face in terms of costs, calories, and nutrition. Perhaps a product of my own news filters - thanks selection bias and algorithms for reinforcing our bubbles - but there also seemed to be considerable coverage of human-induced environmental problems and social justice issues. Imminent climate change catastrophes made late headlines, victims of environmental exploitation made small waves, and the world watched rather silently (or preoccupied) loss of human rights and dignity. Thanks Twitter for making the world's atrocities so much more accessible (and Storify for allowing me to rehash it all).

Going back through my actual blog posts from the year, however, there seemed to be much more to celebrate. In true Munchable fashion, we took a bit of a tour through through the beauty of biodiversity and food, at the intersection where art and agriculture collide. About halfway through the year, a challenge to compile a week of photos depicting beauty in nature made its way around the interwebs. A lunchtime conversation spurred a post on the amazing tuber diversity. And of course I could not go a full year without pontificating on the joys inherent in the art of bread-baking. These may seem like small potatoes, but to me they seem more like beacons of hope amidst stormy weather.
Finally, this year saw many developments here at command central. At the end of January, I left the damp of England after 2.5 years and moved to Australia in order to continue the over-education process. On the two month journey between the two Commonwealth countries, I made a second transcontinental rail trip to see immediate family in the US, followed by a first foray into Southeast Asia (including some history lessons and another train trip). Starting the PhD has helped me finally come to terms with my identity NOT as an ecologist, but as intentionally straddling disciplines (good luck with that...).

Mid-way through the year, I did some stock-taking as a 30th birthday exercise. Almost as a physical reminder of this aging, I proceeded to tear my ACL and menisci (...lesson to all that gymnastics takes hours of training, particularly when you are no longer 17). To ensure the year ended on a high note, I scheduled in my first surgery and overnight stay at a hospital the week before Christmas. I suppose out of necessity, the new year will be one of recovery, and not just for me, but hopefully more broadly from all the cruelty, divisiveness, and hatred that has taken place recently. Here's to a more enlightened 2017.

Read Years Passed

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