I’ve always felt a strong connection with nature, even when I was a very young girl. I fondly remember wearing a very large, floppy, yellow rain hat during wet recesses in Wisconsin, thinking that if I held my head just right, the storm’s wind would pick me up off my feet. My friends and I would spend all of our summers in our forest, playing all sorts of games with the spirits that we ‘imagined’ lived there. Now I live in the foothills of one of the only mountains in the San Francisco Bay Area – a mountain my father proudly announced was named after us. Every morning I wake to the sounds of bird calls in my neighborhood from my bedroom window and walk to my car with the calls from various corbies (crows and jays), doves, pigeons, quail and the odd owl echoing around me. Come Spring and the train station I leave from is full of the cries of newly –hatched chicks begging for food as their parents fly around gathering berries, bugs and other treats. Even walking in the concrete jungle that is downtown San Francisco, nature is with me, blowing my hair around as I walk in the sunshine, or dripping damp air on me as the fog covers the buildings. One doesn’t have to live in the deep woods to be connected to nature.
As a child growing up, we had a small garden in our yard, filled with gourds and squashes and I remember making pickles with my mother from our own cucumbers, and the taste of muskmelons(cantaloupe) fresh off the vine. This is how I like to think of the Earth – as the provider of life. I’m probably one of the few Pagans that doesn’t see the Earth as a ‘Goddess’. I see the Earth as being more like a living organism with a very delicate ecosystem that must be protected, quite a bit like an endangered species is – and perhaps even more so as there is currently only (unfortunately for the SciFi geek in me) one organism that can support life such as we. And as such, we should protect her as we should any endangered species; by consuming as little as possible and returning as much as possible.
Some of the easiest ways to do this is to conserve and recycle wherever you can. While the area I live in is near a number of rivers as well as the Delta sloughs, we always seem to be low on water due to the lack of rainfall and snowpack. So water conservation has become a standard practice in the house, almost to the point where it’s a natural action versus something to think about. Our waste disposal company also offers free recycling of grasses and plant material, as well as cardboard, paper, glass and aluminum. If I had the space for composting, or more the time, I might consider doing that myself, but at least this way the grass, tree and flower cuttings are being composted and recycled – just not by me. In addition to making sure that these recyclables are sorted out, we’ve reduced the amount of ordinary ‘garbage’ that we produce. We’ve also managed to reduce our electrical usage by 50% this summer. After twenty-five years of marriage, I may have finally gotten my husband trained to turn off lights, the TV and the DVD when he’s done with them. We also are not turning on the air conditioner unless the house gets above 85 degrees (which means it is likely 100+ outside).
Eventually, I’d love to be ‘off the grid’ as much as possible, and for such a goal I am currently researching various Solar power companies, their costs and if my roof can even support such a structure. I know that this will take time, if all else to save the funds needed for such an expense. In the meantime, I’m also researching the types of birds that are native to my area and what kind of feed I can put out in a feeder and a birdbath to encourage them to return. My goal is to have this part all set by the beginning of winter at the very latest.