Thursday, April 22, 2010

EARTH DAY - 40 years on

I remember what I was doing 40 years ago. (Frightening, isn’t it?) I was a student at St. Francis of Assisi Elementary. Our teacher made us clean the schoolyard. We had some idea that someone in the U.S.A. had just invented Earth Day and chosen April 22 as the first one. Mostly, it was just a day to fight pollution in the way we were told.
Soon after I noticed things happening. All around, the environmental movement was beginning. Even as a girl, I realized that pollution (water and air) was bad, and clean wild areas had to be protected. I had visited a few and felt I belonged there. Whatever sullied those places hurt me. I felt the earliest sense of being one with it all, even if the implications were to take years to emerge. My understanding took decades.
However, that sense of connection that came so easily to me may not have to be “instilled” in anyone! It may be innate, like a baby’s gripping reflex, or the bond between mother and child, which seems to merge their very consciousnesses. If it is innate, it does need to be maintained and shaped, encouraged and nurtured. Otherwise, it will wither, and other forces (e.g., materialism, and anti-social influences that want us all to stand alone) will propel our ambitions instead of this love.
Or at least this is what I hold firm. How else to explain that the mad hunger for plasma TVs and tiny social isolation devices masked as connection units (cell phones) supplants any awareness of the birds on the trees or the plants underfoot? If you doubt my words, ask an 18-year-old boy to name one local bird and what it eats, or a gardener to point out a native plant (versus the hybrids most gardeners prefer).
Earth Day has been celebrated for 40 years. Think of how far we’ve advanced in our understanding of the biosphere – yet how much forest has been lost to toothpicks or construction boards, how much more CO2 now warps the atmospheric currents, how every ocean will be riddled with our plastic for eternity, and how many more human beings now crowd out what remains (about 2.5 billion extra people in four decades) of the habitable areas of the planet since 1970. All those people threaten to squeeze out the fresh water, the land, the food, the wild creatures - yet the hope for everything lies with those people, too!
The more that changes, the more everything stays the same.
I am still that little girl, seamlessly one with the wetland dragonflies and red-winged blackbirds.
What are you?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Community Garden

A few days ago, I took this photo of my dwarf daffodils, opened 3 to 4 weeks early.I am not sure what to make of the premature departure of winter in early March, but I cannot complain if this is the result.
I have never owned a house, and doubt I ever will, but the prospect of having a garden might compel me to transcend my fear of having to deal with repairs, mortgage, etc. There is nothing quite like watching things grow to heal the spirit! I'm sure many people can relate to this, whether it is a bed of blooms they planted themselves, or a patch of wild flowers discovered in a nearby spot. In my case, I have been blessed with a community garden plot a mere five minutes from my small apartment.
For the past two years, I have planted and nourished various flowers and vegetables in my plot, with many degrees of success. The sandy soil proved too much of a challenge for some species. The resident rodents (squirrels, groundhogs, rats) gnawed my tomatoes and ruined a few squashes in other gardens. Variable rain took its toll. Yet, thanks to ample sunshine (and my daily administrations), I harvested beans, peas, herbs, small potatoes, sunchokes, and carrots.
If I were Supreme Ruler, I would see to it that every city had such plots, with supplies for anyone unable to afford them, and instructions on how to grow food.
What a wonderful way to promote self-sufficiency, meet people, and heal the spirit at the same time.