Sunday, May 19, 2013

Find your place on the planet

photo of Spring sunrise
© harrington
Hi! Thanks for the visit. Living in the moment and enjoying ephemeral pleasures while they last seems to be a skill I'm still acquiring. This morning, Si-Si, the yellow lab, and I walked beneath a stunningly pink sunrise. Picture everything blue above looking like the sky was nearby when a pink cotton candy machine exploded. I'm grateful Si-Si got me up in time to see it. Ten minutes later, it was gone, and not a trace left. Yesterday, I would've sworn there wasn't a dendelion in the entire state. Today, I noticed their bright yellow blossoms almost everywhere.  Now, I know there are those who consider dandelions as nothing more than pernicious weeds. Most of these folks are focused on maintaining the purity of their Kentucky bluegrass lawns. That's sort of like being concerned about maintaining the purity of a bed of purple loosestrife or zebra muscles. None of the three are indigenous to North America. Dandelions can be used as food; to make wine; and for medicinal purposes. Bluegrass serves as cover for small animals and as food for insects. The seeds are also animal food (if allowed to grow to a point that seeds are produced). I'm not suggesting we rid North American of Kentucky bluegrass (although, if we're going to consider eliminating non-indigenous species it would seem to qualify). I am proposing that our fixation on monocultures such as corn, soybeans, pine plantations, Kentucky bluegrass lawns and industrial-scale agriculture is sorely misguided. My mother and grandmother repeatedly told me when I was young: "be careful what you wish for, you may get it." I took that to mean, if I wished for a pony, I'd best be prepared to muck out the stall. It seems to me we have become like the sorcerer's apprentice. We wish for magical solutions without being willing to put in the effort and sacrifice needed to support them over the long term. First it was magical herbicides. Weeds responded so we needed magical genetic modifications so our agricultural production could survive more and stronger herbicides.I don't know of anyone, outside of Wall Street or the Tea Party or a few farmers, that thinks magic is a sustainable solution to the challenges we face. I'm coming more and more to appreciate the wisdom of Wes Jackson, Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry and the approach outlined by Ian McHarg in Design with Nature. Nature has been working out sustainable strategies for eons. Perhaps we should try a little harder to understand how she does it. Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served daily in My Minnesota.