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Hawaii Feet April 17, 2019

Wherelings, whenlings

(daughters of if-but, offspring of hope-fear, sons of unless and children of almost),

never shall guess the dimensions of him

whose each foot likes the here of this earth

whose both eyes love this now of the sky.

endlings of isn’t shall never begin

to begin to imagine how

Him whose each foot likes the here of this earth

Him whose both eyes love this now of the sky.

(only are shall be were

Dawn dark rain snow rainbow

and a moon ‘ s whisper in sunset

Thrushes toward dusk among whippoorwills

or

tree field rock hollyhock forest brook

Chickadee

Mountain. Mountain)

Why-coloured worlds of because

Do not stand against yes

Which is built by forever and sunsmell.

(sometimes a wonder of wild roses sometimes)

with north

over

the barn.

 

e.e. cummings

20/50

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Lab Girl

“People don’t know how to make a leaf, but they know how to destroy one.”

–Hope Jahren

Have you ever wondered what secrets the trees are telling each other deep beneath the ground with their intertwined roots? If not, please read this book and enlarge your perspective.  Hope Jahren is a scientist who has made a respectable career out of playing in the dirt. She’s my hero for that. Her memoir, Lab Girl, is infused with her love of science, sunshine, soil and seeds. It features funny and highly entertaining tales of her travels and misadventures in academia and the band of misfits she loves along the way.

“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”

–John Muir

waterfall

9-3-13 001

Here is a list of stuff I’ve recently traded for the fresh eggs of Myrtle, Pearl, Gertrude, and Freebird:

1. two jars of homemade pickles

2. a loaf of whole grain organic bread

3. two hands full of home grown green beans

4. a bag of home grown cucumbers

5. a bag of home grown jalapeños and bell peppers

Also, a friend recently offered to house/dog/cat/duck/chicken sit if and when I ever go out of town again, in exchange for fresh eggs.

Personally, I find this an impressive list given I’ve had the girls less than a month. The farmy bartering makes me downright giddy. Let it go down on the record that I have not eaten any of the eggs myself. I gave up eggs January 11, 2011 as a strange experiment with “enlightenment.” On a side note, when I just went back to find the link to the first blog post in which I announced this decision, I realized that the date translates to 1-11-11 . I suppose I won’t be forgetting that date again. It wasn’t an intentional “oooh-here’s-a-date-with-a-buncha-ones-in-it,-let’s-do-something-crazy” sort of decision.  But apparently it was a good date for new beginnings, especially since the post I wrote right before that one was aptly named Conflict and Crisis.

a mama carrying her silver orb

a mama carrying her silver orb

On another tangential note…2 years, 10 months, and 1 day after beginning my enlightenment quest, my mother and I are still driving each other nutters. (Hi Mom!)

Looking back, it’s funny to see all the obvious patterns you missed as you’re moving through a life unfolding in real time. It’s also a little embarrassing. There I was, ego bare, for all to see.

And here I am still….

*TaDA!*

I wonder what obvious things I’m missing even now that I will look back on someday and snicker about.

duck eggs

duck eggs

The self-imposed egg prohibition was largely a symbolic gesture, which I attempted to explain many times to others (and to myself), as in the post: The Incredible Inedible Egg.  In spite of all this, it has never made much sense to any of us I’m afraid.  As a result I caught a lot of flack from family members who were baffled, horrified, or just plain outraged by my perceived havoc-wrecking habits on our family feasting functions.

My life is so different now from when I started all this. I am different. And I am the same. As life continues to unfold in real time, one pattern that has not escaped my notice is the irony.  For someone who has worked so hard to avoid eating eggs, I’m now surrounded by them being laid before me on a daily basis.  This certainly wasn’t planned, but it is welcomed.

 

darkness

A spiritual practice is one that brings us full circle – not to a new self, but rather back to the essence of our true selves.                                                                   

-Rolf Gates

 

butterfly

butterfly

How was that even normal, to cry over insects?

–Delarobia, Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver

There are very a few authors whose collections I feel compelled to devour in their entirety. Barbara Kingsolver is in that select few. She’s brilliant. Her mastery of the English language inspires me. Her intellect humbles me. Her reverence for nature motivates me to observe, conserve, and appreciate the natural world.

Her latest book,  Flight Behavior  is set in the Appalachian Mountains. The story centers on Delarobia Turnbow, a young wife and mother, literally running away from her life in someone else’s cast off boots. Delarobia chances upon a discovery that changes her life: millions of monarch butterflies unexpectedly alight in the forest.  Miracle or sign of impending environmental doom? You decide. Kingsolver, a trained biologist, throws in enough science to make you feel like an armchair lepidopterist.  Staying true to the region, she also smacks down some religion. Any time you pass by the Bible Belt you can expect a good spank.  It’s a good mix that creates a nice tension.

I relished most of this book, but there were parts that made me really tired.  I understand the story is set in Tennessee, but I could have done without the Honey Boo Boo vibes. I like my fiction to take me away from my real life, not put me right back at the heart of it.  I live in Tennessee.  I have relatives that wear shirts that say things like, “You mess with me, you mess with the whole trailer park.”  If I wanted to experience a marital dispute in Wal-Mart I could just load up the family in the pickup truck, drive a couple miles down the road, and go at it.  I’m already familiar with this routine. I don’t need to read about it. And if I wanted to experience Wal-Mart scenery, but felt too lazy to drive down the street, I could surf the People of Wal-mart website from bed without having to read pages and pages of dialogue devoted to this sort of thing.   Wal-mart drama does not make good literature. In Kingsolver’s own words, “It could not be more tedious or familiar, any of it.”

Also, I wish academia was half as fabulous as described in this story.   Kingsolver paints an idealized version of this endeavor featuring researchers with the purest intentions who are blessed with outlandish funding, and the most understanding of spouses.   It’s a really lovely picture, even true to a degree, but still incomplete.  (Where are the turf wars, conspiracies, and petty squabbles over the minutia?)

Despite my minor gripes, it was an awesome story.  I was smitten with the real main character of the story: the butterflies.  In the end I cried for what was revealed about the interconnectedness of individuals to each other and to the environment.

~~@~~

And only because I brought it up, I have to include this video of the People of Wal-mart.

Arugula, freshly picked

Arugula, freshly picked

I’m the black sheep vegetarian in a family of meat eaters. It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it.

This is not a brand new thing.  It’s been two years since I converted. Still, when I get invitations to family functions they say things like this:

We’re having a party. I know you don’t eat x or y…or z — good lord aren’t you starving yet?? Well, you can come anyway.

I swear I am not trying to wreck havoc on people’s dinner parties (unlike The Good Greatsby, whose humorous post can be found HERE). I don’t mean to be difficult, but I might be a little complicated. The vegetarian thing is just what makes sense in my heart and in my head.  I’ve tried to explain it all, but I obviously haven’t really done a good job of it because just a week ago I was asked (again):

So…I still don’t understand…are you doing this for religious reasons or what?

And then there was there was the following exchange with the Resident Teaologist, who when preparing lunch couldn’t find what she needed:

Resident Teaologist: You said you had arugula, so I didn’t get any at the store, but I don’t see any in the fridge…

Me: That’s because it’s out in the yard.

Resident Teaologist:….oh.

So we go out to the yard to pick the arugula.  She stares at it and says,

It’s so weird that you are about to eat something that was just growing in your ground.

I had to giggle. That this bewilders others bewilders me.  How did we ever get so far removed from our food? And what have we lost as a result of this distance?  And what exactly have we gained?

Once plants and animals were raised together on the same farm — which therefore neither produced unmanageable surpluses of manure, to be wasted and to pollute the water supply, nor depended on such quantities of commercial fertilizer. The genius of American farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems.

–Wendell Berry

Cultivating compassion and joy is not a linear process; it’s organic, like growing flowers.  If you work regularly at decreasing your compulsive desires and narcissism gradually you will see beautiful results.

–Lorne Ladner, The Lost Art of Compassion

~~@~~

 Last June, I spent two weeks deconstructing at an ashram.  On the surface, the ashram experience seemed a nightmare.  Group constipation, perpetual cravings for hamburgers, and sleep deprivation combined with withdrawal from various vices, hard work, heat, and allergic reactions.  (See Poo-poo Tea at the Ashram and Ashram Adventures for a recap of those fun details.)

Beneath that muck, seeds of joy were being planted.  Several lifetimes of lessons were condensed into those two weeks.  It was a lot to processes. I’m still working to understand what I learned and to apply it to daily life.  (For more on that end, see A Heart Flung Open and Knowing by Doing.)

And here is but one of the many lessons I learned from the experience: Beauty will unfold day by day when you work to tend the garden.

There’s a certain man in my life who has taught me a great deal about good environmental stewardship by the example he sets daily. Around here he’s known as “The Devil,” because he torments me relentlessly (Exhibit AExhibit B). 

He keeps a mean backyard vegetable garden. He was composting before it was cool — much to my dismay initially, but hey, evolution takes time.  Maybe you didn’t know composting was cool? Well it is. Click here to see why: Voila!

The man knows exactly what’s in his bread because he bakes it himself. He gave up beef, chicken, and pork more years ago than I can remember.  He’s an amazing cook of all sorts of vegetarian dishes.

He single-handedly insulated his attic to cut energy costs. He also installed a solar powered fan to cool the attic in the summer. He’s replaced all the lightbulbs in the house with the spiraly energy-efficient kind. He’s the kind of guy who conserves water by turning it off while brushing his teeth — something I’m just not able to do even with his admonishments.

He recycles religiously. He has been known to reuse aluminum foil.

He reads the books I buy on environmental stewardship and when I don’t have time to read them, he reads to me.

He is, in short, pretty awesome and I am lucky to have him as a mentor.

In this video Janine Benyus shares her story of being courted by an amorous waterfowl and what sexy birds have to do with environmentally-friendly design.

Welcome to the third post in the series celebrating creative individuals doing what they can to be good stewards of the environment. 
 

Some of these heroes stretch a little beyond the boundaries that one may call ‘hometown,’  but a little geographical yoga can be good for the soul.

a sign in Heifer International Museum (click to enlarge)

The Wolf River Conservancy is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the Wolf River and watershed.  They lead canoe trips, guided hikes, and educational events for the area.

Project Green Fork certifies restaurants based on six criteria: use of sustainable products, recycling, kitchen composting, using non-toxic cleaning products, reducing water/energy consumption, and preventing pollution. To date, 41 Memphis restaurants are on board.

Heifer International makes my heart glad in so many different ways.  Their headquarters building in Little Rock has won the highest “green” building award possible from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  Heifer took an old railroad switching yard littered with industrial waste, cleaned it up and recycled and reused the old masonry to build their headquarters in Little Rock.  The building’s narrow, curving design features a glass exterior to allow natural sunlinght to permeate the building. Their roof is designed to collect and recycle rainwater. The result is 52% less energy used than in similar sized conventional office buildings. (Yes, ok, this one isn’t exactly my hometown, but it’s close enough and their impact is far-reaching).

The City of Bartlett gets a lot right.  They have gorgeous parks, lots of bike lanes, and recycling centers.

The University of Memphis has several ongoing initiatives that help educate the community by….

providing tips on how students can conserve energy in their dorms,

offering “green” internships,

and panel discussions on sustainability

 

Please share: Who are your hometown heroes?

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