Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

With the new garage screen hanging up, we worked and played in our Creativity Room. The cats and Maria can't wander to the busy street, but the fresh breeze can blow in. With most everything as organized and comfortable as it ever will be, we found ourselves enjoying the new space. And in the spirit of Earth Day, I sit a little taller knowing that we re-thought, re-used and recycled to make the best of our world.

I am beginning work on a very special quilt. Max and Alex helped me think about how I want to use the fabric we are repurposing. There was some design debate about whether to use the bright side or the backside of aloha prints and it was decided that both sides would be appropriate and pretty. Maria sat at the cutting table and made bits of the scraps I let her cut. Benjamin sat with his nose to the screen and watched birds and cars.

So, today is Earth Day. I think that it is unfortunate that when I can do very little I sometimes do nothing at all. I am conscientious about the environment. I have been conscientious since about the first grade, when I was also a devoted seatbelt advocate. I recycle and I turn out lights, we cut back, we eat less of that and more of those... the usual stuff. Looking around here I can see where we need improvement, and I know what I would love to do to make a difference, like gardening. I don't have time to explain why we should bother, so I offer you: This. Please read it, if you need reason to bother.

This barrel is my garden. There are a lot of tropical plants and quite a bit of lawn in the front and even more concrete all around the house, and unfortunately none of these fall under my jurisdiction and even my attempts to enhance and modify these have been met with a landlord's weed-whacker. Sigh.

Last year when my sweetpeas were pulled up and my violas were raked over, I cried and I felt helpless and degraded, and I did not want to ever bother again. Not here. Not at Garage Mahal. By summer I regained some of my composure and the call of the garden beckoned me to try again. Geoff brought me wine barrels, and I planted tomatoes. Unfortunately, the walled garden and area trees don't let a lot of sunlight into the yard and the tomatoes failed to heat up. They grew green and leggy, but the fruit never came.

I think gardeners cannot help themselves. I cannot keep from slowly turning the pages of seed catalogs and making wishful gardens in my mind. I cannot help bringing home green bean seeds. I want fresh cut flowers and summer salsa from hot, plump sweet garden tomatoes. Gardeners have a calling, a need that cannot be denied and so when the season changes and the signs of spring awaken our senses, we try again.

Alex and I strapped the barrel to a handtruck and moved it to the backyard, where I am hoping we will have more sun, better luck. And so, maybe this little blossom will become a tomato.

Or, maybe not. There is a lot of shade in this irrigated suburban paradise.

Is it the shade that these blackberry canes need? Between palm trees, bird of paradise and concrete walls, these spiny berry plants force their way and seem to manage quite nicely. It was June of last year when we were sampling backyard berries... only 1 or 2 at a time, but much appreciated. I am noticing more flowers this year and hopefully our dedicated picking has prompted the plant to produce more to meet demand.

I often wonder how much or how little it would take to be self-sufficient, to sustain our family. For many years I have followed the progress of the the Dervaes family in Pasadena. They are amazing. Seriously, what can any of us do with 1/5 of an acre? They have taken a "Path to Freedom" that is extraordinary and an example to us all. I cannot say that I will ever achieve that level of self-reliance, but I deeply appreciate that they are showing me what is possible. They raise my thoughts.

Our tadpoles are marvelous. We are so pleased to see them thriving and growing. We brought in a fresh supply of creek water and an additional plant. The wild celery smells so good... potent, the way wild things do. Everyone enjoys sitting beside the aquarium and meditating. Gazing at the pebbles and sand, watching the tadpoles dart and feed, observing tiny air bubbles rise and roots spread. We look forward to returning healthy frogs to the creek.

Every day is Earth Day. Every day I care about the environment and our role in improving life on this planet. I should care more and do more or in some instance less. So, I keep trying. I keep thinking and feeling and learning. These are some bloggers that care a great deal, and make a point of keeping Earth Day a daily issue:

Garden Punks

Mom, What's For Dinner?

Mrs. Crunchy

Slowly She Turned

I Heart Farms

Mama's Village


Andylynne said...

Loved your post, all life is important. How it all interacts is amazing and wonderful. Thanks for the pep talk about Earth Day. It's something I think about, do some things about. Then slide and get lazy or frustrated. But I keep slogging on. Why because I want our childrens children to see Tadpoles in the creek :) To be able to see them grow and change with out feeling like an endangered species is nigh on disappearing. Simple,organic, natural fibers, recycling & all the other things we do.

Jennifer said...

We DO believe that every day is earth day, but we went out for some plants and seeds today just the same. Never give up, never surrender -- right? Every bit does matter, just the way to live. Have you read Animal Vegetable Miracle? I got it for Christmas and have been working my way through it; food for thought as well as, well, food.

Tilly said...

Very interesting and thoughtful post. Hope your garden blooms and grows -that little tomato flower looks promising!

Joan said...

My heart broke when I read about your landlord's destruction of your flowers. I am calling him bad names, like plant murderer and other unprintable things. A long time ago my neighbor's dog got into our yard and destroyed some flowers as she made her way home through the fence. I cried like a baby. But at least the dog didn't mean it.
I used to grow veggies in my yard until it became too shaded. I really miss it. It was simple, just tomatoes, zucchini, beans & basil. Sigh. I'm so grateful for the farmer's market.
Now I have a lovely shade garden with some woodland plants that I just love. I'm in zone7, so no tropicals here.
Happy barrel gardening--

nikkipolani said...

Wonderful solutions - the 1/2 wine barrels! I have a few of those on the side of the house, too, where tomatoes and hopefully eggplant will grow. One tip for future wine barrels: Before you fill them, have Geoff turn them over and install four sturdy castor wheels. The flexibility in rolling those heavy things around is wonderful!

Katie said...

Natalie - keep the faith. You WILL have tomatoes.

Thanks for the link. I tried to add your feed to my Google Reader, but it's not working. Do you publish a feed? Just curious. :)

Happy Wednesday (because EVERY DAY is earth day!)

village mama said...

Happy Earth Day amiga, yesterday, today, and always!

You inspire me too, that's why you are a staple on my blogroll. XO Village Mama

gloria said...



Mama Spark said...

Those tadpoles are great! Have you tried crayfish? Do you have crayfish by you? I took them into the school and we had a male and a female so we ended up with babies!! But the kids didn't notice until the end of the year when I was packing the aquarium to take it home. They keep the wee ones wrapped in their tail!
I like your quilt too. Pinwheels are one of my favorite blocks and all those colors look so happy!!