In spite of this four year drought we are enduring in California, there are still beautiful gardens to discover and enjoy, wonderful natural places, and old trees. We are adapting to using less water. The benefits is, we are appreciating native species, and recognizing the beauty in the less thirsty plants, like succulents, yarrow, salvias, ceanothus, rock rose, the lupines, and rosemaries. There are even roses that take less water, like my longtime favorite, Cécile Brünner. The hardships are real, like the loss of mature trees in our forests, dying for lack of water. The fires are harrowing. We are holding out hope for a turn around with this El Niño winter coming (not without its risks,) but I hope the good habits we are adapting will stay. Water catchment, drip irrigation, veggies over lawns, and foregoing acres of lush tropical gardens, when we are living in a dryer, hotter climate... none of this feels unreasonable, or too trying to accept.
Even more than last summer, as made our drive up the California coast, we were struck by the devastation of this drought, and also by something else... litter! It's incomprehensible, actually, to see mile after mile of roadside garbage... plastic bottles, and bags, junk, refuse, paper, wrappers. No place is untouched. And I wonder, with a heavy heart, when did this happen? When did our society let go, and stop caring? It's too extensive, too rampant, to be chance, to be a case of absentminded neglect. I am loath to point fingers, or accept this label, but it's got be said: We have become careless, slovenly, lazy citizens.
We collect garbage off the beach, when we visit. Garbage. It's left there, by people who... what? Think it doesn't matter? Don't think? I am crushed, and mystified. I want to start a conversation, wake up a movement, re-engage our concern about what we are doing, what's happening when we don't put trash in a receptacle, recycle, clean-up. I feel sheepish, too, because there have always been some places that were littered, and there's a tolerance for it... in empty city lots that are neglected, where medians look like ashtrays for smokers at traffic lights, but we are seeing trash in nice parks, on the beach, school yards, after concerts, or festivals, and none of it is right, none of it should be tolerable.
I am buying one of those trash grabbers. It's going to be my small gesture, my righteous fist of indignation raised in defiance. And I am going to clean-up. The world is full of causes and crises, we can hardly make a difference, it would seem. But I am going to do a little, and hope it helps.
All those gardens, all those spaces filled up with growing things, and pretty things, the huge oak trees, the shade beneath redwoods, the cool ferns in deep coastal canyons, and roadside blossoms were wonderful to see, inspiring. I was happy to come home to our own blooms... Calamity Kim's seeds took hold, and now we have more flowers for the bees!