My pool guy and I stood outside one early morning last week, talking about politics and sustainability. (We manage a property next door with a pool.) The absurdity of this situation was not lost on me. There is just nothing sustainable about a swimming pool. Unless you turn it into a fish pond, like my friend Mary. Mary does her research, adding appropriate plants and sub-species, and in a few years that former unused swimming pool will yield many pounds of protein to feed her family. With or without society’s approval, she has made something productive out of what was a waste of resources in her back yard.
Mike the pool guy and I agreed that in order to address the environmental challenges the earth and we face at the current time (dying corals were under discussion), what it will really take is not pontificating pundits and whatever they do, but US making uncomfortable choices every day. Changing the way we do business. How completely can you remove plastic from your life, for instance? Let’s say just plastic trash bags. If you don’t use plastic trash bags, what do you use? How do you manage garbage? Shopping bags are much easier. If you use cloth diapers or menstrual pads, which I have found superior to for the users’ skin, you use a lot of water to clean up. Caring for a special needs young adult I use a great deal of water anyway – and I feel like it’s easier to clean water than to find a home for garbage that won’t ever break down. But maybe this will not always be the case – in a well-run trash-to-power incineration process for example.
But each of these choices take consciousness and trouble. Not doing things just the way we always did. I love the story my brother-in-law Allen told me of Lebanon, which in ancient times was covered with forests. Today you know Lebanon as a desert nation, (map of Lebanon). As I was told the story, ancient people discovered plaster in their soil, and became a huge user and exporter of this product. But the process required heat, which meant fire, and chopping down those trees to fuel an exciting new economy … and centuries of business as usual meant that a woodland area became irreversibly arid. How do you reverse from desert to a forest again? It’s a lot of work, maybe impossible. (Lebanon’s environmental issues today )
Then Mike went on to clean more pools, and I went inside to eat breakfast made up of food trucked in from miles and miles away.
But not all of it. Trucked, I mean. I am working on that. The Simons Gardens are having a good year so far.
As the sour cherry harvest rolls in from our three little trees, and pepper and tomato seedlings go into the soil, and sunburn prickles across my shoulders and back, I pause today and take a minute to rejoice for a good start to this season of growing and harvest. Five little chicks have become so much bigger in the two weeks since you saw them last –
The sugar snap peas are producing crunchy deliciousness, thanks to the extended cool weather and rain that is otherwise driving us crazy. And we have never harvested lettuce and kale like this before, though I sure hope to again.
We suburbanites truly can grow a portion of our own food on our 1/4 acre lots. A box of salad greens costs $5-6, and is often partly rotten, since it is trucked from distant California, subsidized by your tax dollars. We can do better – we can eat better. But whether we choose to do so or not depends on so many factors in our crazy busy suburban lives – mostly whether we love to do so or not. Ya gotta wanna, as they say. I say the sour cherries are “rolling in,” but it is fairer to say that I am stealing them from the birds and mold who are trying to eat them up ahead of me. I got out there each morning last week, sometimes up in the dewy leaves on my ladder, picking for 20 minutes. I pitted them pretty quickly (thanks to with the wonderful German cherry pitting tool my son Scott gave me years ago) and I froze 5 Ziploc-ed quarts so far – best ever!
But I last year I missed the cherry harvest altogether – and the black raspberries too. Before I knew it the trees were stripped and those harvests gone. But I wanna! So this year I am attuned to the early signs. I know to change my schedule, and to pick a little every day. The birds and the Maryland mold don’t wait around to give me my turn. The movements of nature will also not wait for us to figure out how to do things better – nature will work as she her laws dictate. And do what she has always done.
It’s up to us to work in accord.