Earth Day. Those words take me back to Enid, OK. where our family lived in an old farm house on Maine St. At that time our kids were in grade school & middle school, and it was a pretty quiet time. Except for the alcoholic need to be always planning the next big project, next move, next place where life would be "perfect". We read Mother Earth News, talked for hours about moving to Canada to farm, grew vegetables in the back yard, canned and made jelly and jam, baked the bread we ate and lived in a perpetual state of transience.
There was never a real sense that we belonged. Or were building a home or life that we would stay in.
It has taken me years to overcome that time of confusion. I've moved a few times since then, but these moves have been with a sense of purpose and a plan. I know now that "place" will not give me a sense of safety or belonging. Those ideas come from my confidence in who I am and what I have to offer. I belong right where I am at this moment. And where I am is good!
My efforts to try to take care of the earth have always been small, including having a compost pile, using the farmer’s market and earth friendly household products. But my newest adventure has me truly excited. One of the members of this group introduced us to a Texas mill that offers heritage wheat, so I’ve decided to pursue baking using these varieties. These are wheats that were grown in the US before WW2 and have been specific to that region for decades. They have adapted to a region’s environment, so do not require agricultural inputs, thus resulting in sustainable farming. Just as with grapes in wine producing areas, the soil, growing seasons and weather affect the taste and other qualities. Growing these wheats decreased during the growth of industrialized farming, but there has recently been a small resurgence in their use in bakeries and at home. We have diverse varieties of life throughout earth, but I never thought of this being the case with something as “ordinary” as wheat. There are also personal benefits to baking with the heritage flours, including increased protein, decreased gluten, absence of chemicals and, for me, the most important, improved taste. With this new undertaking, I truly feel as if I am in partnership with Mother Earth.
What a different Earth Day Birthday for me! The earth is healing, at least, temporarily. I would like to be able to see it from space for comparison from the usual. I read that Everest is visible where it hasn't been for 30 years. What other beauties might we be able to see with the air cleaner and fresher and the rain forest not having to work so hard. Animals are freer to roam when there are no people present. It would be a surprise to see a coyote coming down the street.
For me, it was a very slow day. This has allowed me to slow down. It was also a day of rain and hail, the first hail I remember on a birthday so the earth was showing off a bit. It does that in Oklahoma.
I am wondering if this will have a lasting effect or will we go back to business as usual when this is over. What will the new normal look like? Will we begin to use less and recycle more? I know that as an American my carbon footprint is larger than many others. What makes sense for me to do? I don't have the answers and often have little interest in studying this, but the current situation bears some thought. Might the Coronavirus save more people since many fewer will be dying from air pollution? What other unintended consequences might we see?
I think of myself as a joyful person, ordinarily. But as everyone has been saying, these are not ordinary times. I have to admit that many days, I briefly become quite sad and shed a few tears and then I remind myself that joy is still present in my life.
As always, I find joy in communicating with my family and friends, whether it be by texting, talking on the phone, FaceTime or Zoom. We may not have exciting news to report, but it is even more meaningful now. I have always found joy in using my hands to create a variety of things, so starting to weave a scarf and baking another loaf of bread brought me comfort and a sense of accomplishment.
And then there is being outside in this beautiful time of the year with the flowers blooming, birds singing, and the warmth of the sun. Today was especially joyful, as a friend came to walk with me. (Yes, we kept at least 6 feet between us.) Living alone as I do, this short contact with a familiar face is cause for celebration! I have also found joy in some small, unusual places, including YouTube and Netflix. It’s been fun to watch and listen to the virtual choirs sing, and Andrea Bocelli’s concert from the Duomo on Easter Sunday was beautiful. I have also been watching a documentary series on Netflix called Babies about how they develop. And who can resist smiling and laughing when babies are so joyful and loving? So, yes, joy is still very much a part of my daily life!
Joy comes in the tiny things in my every day life now. Driving around the city and seeing all the desert flowers in bloom. Having Capt'Jack snuggle up next to me any time I sit still. The produce section of the grocery store and window shopping through the Bakery department. (Don't dare buy that stuff). Making Chris laugh at some silly thing. His sense of humor and joy in our life is lovely and eases my tensions & bad moods. Watching my flower pot garden growing and being able to take basil, parsley and rosemary for cooking. Getting to text with friends and family in other cities and sometimes talk together.
I have been taught the lesson of being present in my life over and over. That the only thing I really have any control over in this world is my attitude and how I choose to respond to life. This time of isolation is an excellent training time for me to take what I know and put it more and more into practice.
And our Wednesday calls are a lifeline! It is so good to hear you all & know you are well.