June 9, 2012
While the world economy continued its air-climbing clawback from the Wile E. Coyote moment of the previous week, we’ve had a rather productive week here at my house.
I’ve managed to do away with about two-thirds of the exuberant, yet extraneous growth around the perimeters of the yard and house. Our new backyard fence in finished (sadly, not as beautifully as the one in the photo). The garden and the grape vines look healthy – except for the missing row of okra plants done in by the rabbit that inhabited the new brush pile until the dogs chased it away. Hopefully, now that the fence is up and the tenant’s three dogs can spend much of their time in the backyard, the rabbit will take the hint that he is unwanted and leave for friendlier climes.
The ceiling fan/kitchen light has been replaced, which should further postpone the use of my window air conditioner well into summer. I’ve scheduled Needed Repair that I Can’t Do, # 4, for next month. And, after I buy the paint next week, the tenant’s son has kindly offered to help me paint the two porches.
Over the next month, my son and the tenant have promised to fence in the garden, including an area big enough for me to expand it, add some rain barrels and, perhaps, add another barrel for compost. The two small dogs have discovered the joys of digging in the loose soil – though they have not bothered the plants, yet. So, a fence should remind them that the garden belongs to me. Sorry, doggies, you have the rest of the backyard to romp in and chase squirrels.
By the end of summer, the repairs should be done and I’ve scheduled the fall (in my mind, at least) for replacing the two leakiest windows upstairs with energy-efficient ones. Whether my pocket book and this old house will cooperate, I do not know, but I’m on a roll, so why quit now?
And there are other projects I’m working on, long term. Trash reduction and recycling – not the kind where you sort your trash before you send it off to the dump, but the kind where you don’t send it to the dump in the first place. That’s hard to do when you live in the city, where most everything you buy comes wrapped or packaged in stuff that becomes the next trash bag full of waste. But, over the last five years, by adding vegetable and paper scraps to the compost, saving glass, plastic and metal containers to store odds and ends and watching how I buy what I have to buy, I’ve gone from one or two fifty gallon trash bags a week to the dump down to one thirteen gallon trash bag a week. That’s still a lot of trash over a year, which is why this project is ongoing.
I’m no longer trying to save the earth; I’m trying to save myself. Over my lifetime, I’ve contributed as much to the mess we’ve gotten ourselves in as the next person. It’s a scary thing to wake up in your late fifties and realize the “better life” your parents wanted for you, that you wanted for your kids, has metastasized into a “lifestyle” in which having more has replaced living better and now devours the very things that make life better – our land, water and air, our health, our ability to survive – if we can’t find a different way to live.
The world economy that most of us willingly believed would bring us that better life is crumbling under its own weight. The one hundred years of energy we thought would sustain the unsustainable will do us no good when we can no longer afford to force it out of land and sea. The soil, water and air we have so greedily poisoned, in our haste to have it all and have it now, is dying and we will die with it unless we each, individually, find our way back to a truly better life.
I don’t see our challenge as moving back into poverty; I see it as moving forward into real wealth. And every week that I – that we – can take a few more steps toward that is going to be a very good week.