Wednesday, April 23, 2008

thinking about Earth Day - slowly

When Earth Day falls on, say, a school holiday, it's the kind of coincidence that makes a mama look good. Having crawled out of my detail-lined Passover-planning burrow long enough to notice that I'm now home with both boys, I did what any self-respecting mother would do: panicked. But then it was Earth Day, and I did what any self-respecting flower child would do (not that I am one, but I did turn up to the accountant's with my 'I Love the Earth' t-shirt on, and she said things like 'ah, so you are the flower child who balances out your husband's bean couting, then?' I ummed, but couldn't quite argue) and: talked eco-responsibility.

We started small, with crafts. I cut out a few big, lopsided circles, and we drew and glued and painted our planet. The Eldest added a big pink rocket that looked suspiciously like a fish. Occasionally, it looked like a fish about to eat the Earth, when he positioned the thing just right. Eep. But not very.

Then, we watered the newly-planted herbs on our teensy deck. Like so.

The herbs are my annual save-money, grow it myself device. For a mere $2.79 a pot (okay, so I cheat and don't start seeds) I'll end up with herbs all spring and summer. Heh. But for the boys, I turned it into talking about growing your own and buying locally. Mostly, they focussed on the dumping water on the dirt part, until they realized that their water bottles could reach to make dark water spots on the neighbor's shed. Eco-lecture over, folks. Time to play.

We later redeemed ourselves (and the neighbor didn't notice - or mind - the wet shed) a bit, with the family 'reduce, reuse, recycle' meeting. We talked about ways we'd improved (a brown paper bag to catch recycling in my little study, reuseable shopping bags) and ways we could improve (turning off excess lights, electric devices, shabbat clocks, using the clothesline). Ah, yes. The clothesline.

I like to use the clothesline once the weather gets warm, and it really does make the laundry smell nice (though my towels come out stiff and uncomfortable). Plus, it's nice how cloth diapers bleach a bit in the sun (although why I care about the aesthetics of a bit of cloth going against the kid's bum is a little hard to explain).

Looking at my clothesline, I had a thought: it's slow. I can fit about two loads of laundry onto the three clotheslines strung over the railing of our deck. And on a warmish day, I can refill them maybe twice. In that time, I could have dried more than that, using the machine. And it takes a lot longer to peg everything out on the line than it does to shove the stuff into the machine. So, being ecologically responsible means moving more slowly?

It does seem to. Consider the options: walk rather than drive (takes longer), avoid disposable plates/napkins/cutlery (now you have to do dishes: takes longer), cloth rather than disposable diapers (laundry time! see above), buy locally grown foods (finding them = farmer's market, not Buy It All Here superstore = takes longer), etc, etc, etc. Add it all up, and eco-responsibility (which is starting to look more like Plain Good Sense than eco-anything) seems to mean SLOW DOWN.

Eh, whatnow? I'm a nice Jewish girl from New Yahk, and we don't do that. Worse, I'm a nice overeducated Jewish girl who should be more brain than balabusta, and I really don't do that. Got places to go, people to talk to, As to add to my already type double-A personality. Slow down, my too-busy Auntie Fanny.

Ahem. Moving on, now.

I've been thinking about the things that I enjoy. Cooking (time), gardening (time), reading (time), writing (work, but also pleasure - and yes, time), and of course my Man-love (time), and my recklessly water-spraying children (a huge lot of time, just now with muddy hands). My greatest pleasures seem to ripen, to be slow and nothing at all Insta-Happy. I think also about my father, a workaholic who once warned me to have an exit strategy to motherhood. Don't let yourself be just a mom, he warned me, or you'll get so wrapped up in your children that you won't be able to let go. I considered this advice, and started running to keep up, to get ahead, to think about the next degree, the next career move. And then I considered my workaholic father, so busy flying around the world that he complains about not having time for his grandchildren. Sometimes, you have to stop. Sometimes, you have to let youself be just a mom, so that you can focus on it and do it right. To be slow enough to live the life that you love, rather than scrambling to keep up with it. Jeez, I wish I were better at that. Still, this idea rings true to me and my endless To Do lists.

So, then, SLOW DOWN.

It's the message that we've settled on for Earth Day around here. It seems to suit us, to make sense and to be a reminder to allow ourselves to live the life that will give us the most joys, and the most satisfaction. It's a good message, I think. Not to mention one that best increases our chances of losing the gerbil in the round exercise ball feeling.

Here's a worrying thought: I went to Blogdigger and typed in 'tier drug,' to see what kinds of reactions there have been to the rolling out of tier 4 and 5 drug copays. The second article was my blog post, and the bloggish silence was deafening. Similar results for 'Wellpoint Anthem.' Sigh.


mother in israel said...

I hardly ever use the dryer, but after a few rainy days it occurred to me that the clothesline is the main reason why I never fall behind in my laundry--I don't give myself the option of procrastinating and finishing up several loads in, say, the middle of the night. I have to think about laundry a day of so in advance of when I need it. Hanging it, for me, is enjoyable and not too time-consuming; getting it to where it needs to go is more of a challenge.

dykewife said...

i love hanging my clothes outside to dry but haven't had the opportunity nor the clothesline in over 10 years. the softest clothes were hung out on windy days.

i have some problem with the proposal of buying locally grown food. while we're not living in the arctic, our winters do tend to last 6 months of the year. plants don't like winter much, they tend to die or go into hibernation. also, i can't think of any greenhouses around that sell their stuff for under scalping prices. if we want anything remotely resembling fruit, it has to be imported.

it's only in summer where the farmers' market has anything other than craftsbaked goods, turnips, potatoes and carrots.

mama o' the matrices said...

Yep, dw, one has to be pragmatic about this. Buy local when you can, and make the sensible choice when you can't. I'm in serious envy of Mary Jr, whose now lives in an area with three growing seasons. By the time I even turn over the ground in my garden, she's got her second crops planted and thriving...