Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bold Activism

In the beginning...first bag only half-filled at this point.
 I guess I should not be surprised that folks who drink booze while riding in cars are not especially concerned with the environment. Still, the amount of beer, liquor and wine bottles we picked up tonight did amaze me. I guess they needed to dispose of all evidence of their drinking before arriving at their destination, because let's face it, people usually can't tell if you've downed a pint or two so long as they don't see the bottles anywhere, right?

Same goes for the junk food and latte junkies, who apparently need to hide the evidence of their Mac-splurges and four dollar caffeine fixes. I can't think of any other logical reason that we found so many McDonald's bags and burger wrappers along that roadside, and the founders of Starbucks would probably cringe in horror if they knew how many of their plastic cups I picked up.

And we're nowhere near done with this small strip of wild. It's not totally wild, but it does border some wildness, wildness that we value and want to keep free of the garbage of modern society. Literally. Cleaning up the route we walk along most evenings was my son's idea, and of this, I could not be more proud. You never saw a more enthusiastic little steward of the earth as he dutifully picked up even the ickiest of the debris and tossed it into his bag. We only brought two, and filled them up quickly. And while I am proud of my son for valuing the environment and speaking for the earth, trees, and animals, I'm absolutely racked with disbelief that so  many other people simply don't.

The evening's haul...sad, isn't it?
I wonder where they learned not to care. Was it demonstrated to them by their own families, or are they just so self-absorbed that their personal needs - like having a clean car - outweigh the needs of the their community, or the environment? It's hard to say. But the good thing is that there are so, so many people - like my own child - who DO care. And who will make the effort and go the extra mile for the earth they love. On drives, my son will point out places in subdivisions where people could put community gardens. Recently, he asked me why people preferred growing grass - as in lawns - to having gardens in their yards. I smile at this suggestion, because I know there is an entire  movement going on that is encouraging people to do just that - tend gardens, not lawns. He doesn't know this...he just knows it makes more sense to grow food you can eat than it does to tend tidy neat lawns while buying produce trucked in from the other side of the continent.

Spreading soil and mulch in the community garden beds...
And I love that he's figured this out already, without having to be told, because talk is talk, nothing more. In the end, the most important things we pass on to our children are what they learn when we lead by example. Those hours I have spent in the garden; the times I picked up trash on our hiking trails; the saving of bread crusts to take to the geese and ducks; the painstaking sorting of recycling, he sees all of these little things, and little things done in the name of love for the earth become big, huge things when you are raising a child to be bold enough to care about their environment.

No one wakes up one day and decides to become an earth activist...the seed of love for the environment has to be sown, tended, watered, and encouraged to grow and grow and grow. Read more about this, and about two renown earth activists, at http://boldnessinitiative.blogspot.com/2011/04/bold-activism.html

Monday, February 4, 2013

Don't Be Afraid to Climb Mountains...

Helping cut green beans for dinner...
 We were at the check-out line when I realized I'd forgotten freezer bags. The good news was, they were right there at the end of the aisle, so I didn't have to go very far. I left my son in charge of unloading our cart, and stepped over to grab a box of freezer bags. I have about a gazillion pounds of pecans I'd picked up in my parents yard and had shelled that need to be cleaned up and stored, a time consuming task worth every effort. Walking back to the check-out, wondering when I was ever going to find time to finish the job, I nodded hello to the elderly gentleman who'd came to place in line behind us.  He was bearded and stout, with a red cap over bushy white hair and a heavy flannel jacket, jeans, and hiking boots.

"Do you climb mountains?" My son asked the man, out of the clear blue sky. He chuckled, "Why yes, I did, young man. Many of 'em, back in the day."

"Do you look for gold?" was the next question. "Well, kind of. Found a vein of silver once, but it was on government property so it didn't help me none. Loved roaming out west, though. Had me a burro for a long time. We'd go up in them hills and stay long as we could. You prospect?"

I explained to him that my father was a long time prospector, and that I'm climbed many a mountain and was taking my son on his first real climb this summer.

"Lemme tell you, tell your dad he needs to go to Yuma, out by Arizona," the old-timer went on, and told the story of a special place of legend, just somewhere between the California and Arizona borders, about 3 days on foot from Yuma, and a lot of other twists and turns and even a trailer park landmark, and if a person might find themselves in a certain place at a certain time, they'd see the opening to a treasure trove of gold that has not been seen in 100 years. "Its like another planet out there, in the desert," he said. "Like another time."

Fabulous story. And a fabulous, bold man. He was rustic and authentic, and I did not doubt a word of his tale. Before heading out, he turned to my son and smiled. "Live big, little man," he said, "and don't be afraid to climb mountains."

Later that evening, while preparing supper together, we talked about the mountain man and his story of hidden gold and trekking up and down mountains with burros. "I hope we see him again," my son said.

I do, too.