Friday, March 14, 2008
One warm winter day, I pushed our reel mower back and forth across the lawn, listening to the birds' chatter and not disturbing a cat that dozed nearby. An elderly gentleman walking along the sidewalk stopped to gape. "Wow!" He gasped. "I didn't know people still used those things." Yes sirree, they do.
In the midst of devouring Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic, a friendly acquaintance stops by to invite you out for some "retail therapy." You make up an excuse and finish reading your book.
A neighbor asks, in wonderment, whether that is Swiss Chard growing in your front yard flower beds. Yup. And that's lettuce in the window boxes and cover crop on our planting strip. Yee haw!
Your son's teacher asks, incredulously, whether you hang your clothes on a clothesline. She confides that the teachers thought your son was making it up but he swore it was the truth. You'd like to respond with something snappy like:
My boy ain't a liar.
Keep using that dryer
Gonna drive the temperatures higher.
Instead you mumble "yes" and vow to remind your five-year old that silence is golden.
Ever feel like you don't quite fit it in? Like the world is spinning around without you? Like you're some sort of extra-terrestrial or eco-freak? I do. Apparently Arduous and Beany do too.
While the masses are coming to terms with concepts like recycling, CFL bulbs and hybrid cars, us eco-freaks have long since plucked the low hanging fruit. Heck, we've moved quite a way up the tree, perched determinedly on a borrowed ladder. You can find us in the kitchen canning home grown fruit or in our front yard planting a victory garden and muttering about Peak Oil and the dwindling food supply. Our families, dressed in thrift store chic, cart around cloth napkins, coffee mugs and broken lunch boxes. We stop in the middle of the street to retrieve an errant plastic bottle cap tossed out of someone's window or dropped from a stroller. Hey, we've read Plastic Ocean! Do you have any idea where that plastic will end up?
Yeah, we do all that stuff and we fervently believe we're doing the right thing. "All that stuff" though leaves us a bit out of touch. I pray more people will wake up to the realities of our changing climate but, truth be told, I'm surrounded by SUVs, disposable Starbucks cups and shopping trips to Neiman's. My greenness is an oddity and I'm not quite sure how to connect - both in terms of convincing others to live more lightly and building relationships not punctuated with "do you really make your own X?"
When I lament to my husband that no one else seems to be living more lightly, he kindly tells me that it is because I am the "vanguard." I can't see the changes being made, he assures, because everyone else is behind me. I hope he's right. I do see occasional rays of light - like the public thank you I received on a local mother's club board after drumming up opposition to aerial pesticide spraying in our area. That was awesome.
For the most part, though, I still feel like E.T. - except in the realm of the green blogosphere. Here, I am far from freakish. This world is saturated with eco-nuts, Crunchy Chickens, kooky vegetables, fishy folk and more Little House on the Prairie references than a Laura Ingalls Wilder biography. This world is home and just like that cute little alien, I inhabit one world, but, to stay healthy, I sometimes need to phone home. Thank you, green blogosphere.