In this beautiful and haunting essay, Anna Badkhen remembers playing with amber necklaces as a child, suggesting that sentience could very well be trapped within each bead. As she considers the catastrophic repercussions of the flood and drought cycles that have taken place on Earth since the beginning of time, she writes of how humans have recorded the suffering from these weather events on “hunger stones” only visible in Europe in times of severe drought.
Each bead was a memento from a time when much of Europe and Central Asia were underwater and no ice capped the poles of the Earth, each necklace an abacus of planetary memories that I was still too young to compute into a warning.
Because of its soft warm feel and because of the insects it sometimes captured, I always suspected that amber was more living matter than gemstone. Even now it seems to me almost sentient, only a wandflick away from being able to speak and tell us all it knows—advents and vanishings of plants and animals, human and nonhuman, and of water, and of land, and even of the soil and rock that make up land: it could remind us that even terra firma is impermanent, that it, too, can migrate.