Catching rainwater and pleasant memories

When I was very young, during the summer, when school was out, I stayed at my maternal grandmother’s house while my mother and father were working.  My grandmother was a gardener.  She grew flowers and shrubs and trees mostly.  Her yard was beautiful.  In fact, she was featured occasionally as the “Yard of the Month” in her Dallas suburban home, and, at least once, I remember an article in her local newspaper about her garden.  She was a member of the local garden club, and it was a big deal to her, and it made her happy.

Aside from this, she was a beautiful lady, very kind, and had an awesome laugh, especially when she couldn’t stop laughing and got on a roll.

My paternal grandmother also grew lots of flowers, especially heirloom roses, that had a fragrance so strong you could smell it as soon as you got out of the car to go busting into the house to say hello and raid her candy dish.  Her pink roses were what my definition of “rose” was.  I took them for granted because she had hundreds of them, it always seemed.

I have always been intrigued by the process of gardening, of “making things grow.”  When people spoke of a “green thumb”, I took it literally and frequently looked at my grandmothers’ hands to see what color their thumbs were…hmm, same as mine, mostly pink.

One of the most interesting things at my maternal grandmother’s house was her rainwater collecting habits.  I didn’t understand why she did it — had no understanding of drought or even the needs of plants for water — but she had several jars she kept on her back patio to catch water, and we were warned to keep away from them, my cousins and I.

Now that I’m gardening, and living through an extended drought in this Texas climate, I’m considering the rain catching habits of my grandmother.  I may invest in several rain barrels, but for now, I think some large containers of any type will do.  I have some old plastic storage barrels, and I can manage to improvise, I think, though I may have to figure out how to dispense the water once I have some collected.  I’ll figure that out when we get some rain.

Any ideas?

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Working on my bad eco-habits

water wasteThe more I delve into this lifestyle change, and what the long-term implications of bad habits are, the more I have become aware of some of my bad eco-habits.

One of the worst habits I have had is wasting water by letting the tap run while I’m shaving, washing dishes, watering plants, etc.  When I shave, I have always let the water run so that it would stay warm when I rinsed off my safety razor before reapplying it to my face.  Shaving with a cold razor is no fun!

Another one is that I’ve never become completely devoted to recycling trash.  I am much better at saving trimmings of food for the compost pile than I am at recycling paper and plastic products every day.  At best, I am only recycling about 25% of the paper and plastic products that get tossed after I use them.

One more, I also drive to all my favorite grocery markets on weekends even though one of the stores I use is only a mile from my house.  I also like other produce markets much better, but most of them are at least five miles away, still not too far, but I will often go out of my way to go to one of these because of preferences that have little to do with economy or quality.  Maybe, the clerks are friendlier, the stores more appealing in appearance, etc.  I should do better on this.

The first step, I suppose, is recognizing the problem.  I have that part down.

Making behavioral changes requires some planning, just like changing my eating and food shopping patterns.  I’ve begun working on the water use and have reduced it a good bit already.  Still, for example, I find myself carelessly letting the water run while putting dishes in the dishwasher, instead of handwashing all of them in the sink, and then rinsing all of them at once, using a drain board to dry them.

The recycling thing is “system” problem as far as I’m concerned.  It’s a matter of making separate bins available in the waste collection places, and I need to figure this out and get it done.

The grocery store shopping is an issue that can be resolved in a couple of ways.  I can make sure I stop during the week on my commute home, because I pass right by the store, and pick up the large items, and then walk on the weekends when I have some smaller, non-perishable things to bring home.  I’ve done this before, more for the exercise than anything else, and I can do it again.  I could also get a bicycle, but that might be a little more risky in the heavy traffic lanes I would have to use (6-lane boulevards and such).

Here is an article that inspired my post from Mother Earth News:

How to Break Your Eco-Harmful Habits – Nature and Environment – MOTHER EARTH NEWS

“Walking gently on the land”

gardenYears ago, our little family visited the Thoreau museum at Walden outside of Boston.  I was taken by the simplicity of it.  My daughter and I walked the perimeter of the pond much differently than Mr Thoreau would have done.  He called it sauntering, an art form for walking.  I want to be that kind of artist, a saunterer.  I would think that even in the busy suburb where we live, a saunterer could find pleasure in the art.  Thoreau wrote:

For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

This brings me to the point: the most basic appreciation of the natural world comes from sucking in its beauty and complexity every day, and walking gently through it all.  Away from any device that has a plug, just me and the sunshine, or better yet, just me and the gently falling rain.

A beautiful expression of this kind of environmental activism — because that’s what it is — is in this wonderful article published on the Mother Earth News‘ blog, by Randy Walker.  Walker describes in vivid detail the simple act of “caretaking” for the planet.

Describing a grandfather teaching his grandson, less by words, more by example, through simple acts like carrying a few seeds in his pocket at all times, while on walks, to plant in spots where they could thrive and rebuild that little spot of the Earth, Walker’s article is inspiring.

Grandfather would not only want to interact with the environment to maintain a state of homeostasis, he wanted to leave the area better than it was before. That is the way of the Caretaker. Essentially, a Caretaker is a healer of the Earth.

Source for Walker’s article: Move Toward, Not To, Your Destination: The Caretaker’s Approach to Environmental Awareness – Nature and Environment – MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Wendell Berry on politics and nature

polar-ice-caps-melting“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” ― Wendell Berry

The general election of 2016 approaches, and I have a strong sense of dread.  I have normally engaged heavily in political fights in social media, but increasingly, it has become counterproductive.  The more anyone tries to convince someone else, the wider the gap grows between them.

What’s really important are issues that must be addressed by all of humanity, and unfortunately, the political process, though anachronistic, still demands attention if these issues are to be addressed for the benefit of the planet.

Quote Source: Goodreads | Wendell Berry Quotes (Author of Jayber Crow)

Photo Source: Ecoble | Twitter: @ecoaussie